We live in a technological age, with advances and innovations happening on a seemingly daily basis. It’s hard to believe that certain industries rely on tools that have changed very little in over a century. One such industry is metal cutting, where legacy fuels such as acetylene are slow to embrace innovation.
Acetylene, an accidental discovery in 1836 by chemistry professor Edmund Davy of the Royal Dublin Society, has been used for welding and metal cutting since the early 1900s. To this day, it remains the go-to metal cutting fuel used globally, despite being one of the most unstable and dangerous cutting fuels if not handled properly; it can explode with extreme violence, causing large amounts of damage from even a relatively small cylinder.
But, change is coming in the form of alternatives that burn hotter, cut faster, cost less and are significantly safer and more stable. In addition, a limited number of these fuels are made from readily renewable resources, making them cost-effective and, more importantly, environmentally friendly.
One such alternative fuel example is MagneGas2®. Based in Tampa, Florida, MagneGas® Corporation is an innovative alternative energy company that invented a patented Submerged Plasma-Arc Gasification® technology that can either gasify or sterilise a variety of renewable liquid wastes. In its gasification mode, the technology can take renewable liquid wastes such as readily available liquid feedstocks, soybean and other vegetable oils, and convert them into a hydrogen-based gas alternative. This gas, called MagneGas2® is proving to be a superior replacement for a variety of legacy industrial fuels, especially acetylene.
MagneGas2® has a higher flame temperature than acetylene and has been independently certified at 10,500 degrees Fahrenheit. It can cut faster and cleaner with little to no slag and uses less oxygen than its competitors. Specifically, it can cut a two-inch steel plate at a rate of 18 inches per minute, a full 38% faster than acetylene and 44% faster than propane. Additionally, it emits significantly less carbon dioxide (CO2) than competing gases.
Adoption of such unique gases is growing in major industries ranging from construction and demolition to metal fabrication and first responders for emergency extraction situations. Today, several top utility providers in the US are using MagneGas2®, and a Fortune 100 auto manufacturer headquartered in the US recently converted one of their factories to using the fuel, replacing acetylene as their sole fuel choice.
”Adoption of such unique gases is growing in major industries ranging from construction and demolition to metal fabrication and first responders for emergency extraction situations…”
The fuel is also being used in high-exposure projects at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre, and an initial order of fuel was placed by the US Navy. The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) approved the fuel for use in special operations and is currently in the procurement process.
In addition to its impact in the industrial gas market, the MagneGas® Submerged Plasma-Arc Gasification® technology can be used to sterilise waste and rid it of harmful bacteria. Testing at a major US pig farm in 2015 confirmed that it can process harmful liquid wastes into sterilised biosolids for agricultural use. The company hopes to expand this testing through a US Department of Agriculture grant later this year, with the goal of becoming a USDA ‘Best Practice’ for farmers currently using lagoons to treat their manure waste stream.
Perhaps most groundbreaking, however, is the use of MagneGas2® in the co-combustion of coal flue gas. Ongoing testing with a research centre associated with one of the largest utilities in the US is overseeing testing of the use of MagneGas2® in combination with a specific co-combustion technology. The company’s internal testing is showing that its gas significantly increases the efficiency of burning coal flue smoke and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Around 45% of the world’s electricity continues to be produced from coal, and using MagneGas2® could turn out to be a huge opportunity for the coal industry – for job retention, for growing energy needs around the globe, and for the environment.
The continued development of these powerful fuels and technologies are providing responsible answers to some of the world’s biggest challenges ranging from waste management and greenhouse gas emissions to resource preservation, worker safety and more.
Innovation may be perceived by some to have come slowly over the last century for the industrial gas sector, but the pace of change is speeding up as a result of the efforts of MagneGas® Corporation and other innovators. These companies are focused on pushing the industrial gas market forward into the next century with safer, faster, more efficient and eco-friendly technologies.