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issue: October 2009 APPLIANCE Magazine

Feature: Ignition Systems & Gas Technology
Responsible Gas Technology

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Tim Somheil, editor

Gas technology continues making efficiency and emissions inroads.

Saint-Gobain’s Mini-Igniter Model 746 reaches 1800°F/980°C in under 5 seconds operating at 240 V. Standard and custom holder designs can be supplied using steatite, cordierite, or alumina.

The environmental train isn’t slowing down no matter how the economy fares, and there’s little doubt that the coming years will see more standards affecting gas technology. Emissions will need to be cut and efficiency will need to increase, and efficiency standards will likely be put in place for appliances that haven’t had to deal with them in the past.

Cooking appliances are often ignored, or at least moved to the bottom of the priority list, during the process of developing standards for white goods. As APPLIANCE magazine reported in the 43rd Annual Report on Cooking Appliances in our July/August issue, OEMs in the United States and Europe have been largely left to their own devices as to how to measure, and promote, the energy efficiency of their products. Further confusing the issue on the consumer end is the lack of comparability between electric and gas cooking efficiency—but it is clear that so far, much of the OEMs’ cooking efficiency promotional efforts, in North America, Europe, and Japan, are focused on electric products, and, in particular, on induction cooking.

But the burner, igniter, control, and other technologies behind cooking, drying, and heating with gas are more green than they have ever been.


Test data show Sabaf’s Series II AE burners have an efficiency level of 69%, well above the 52% European provision and above the 56% efficiency found on several other burners on the market.

The Social Responsibility of Design

Sabaf S.p.A. (Brescia, Italy; www.sabaf.it) unveiled new high-efficiency burners earlier this year at the Milan Furniture Salon. At an event named +LCD –CO2: The Environmental and Social Responsibility of Design, staged in cooperation with premium cooking appliance producer Foster S.p.A. (Brescello, Italy; www.fosterspa.it), Sabaf demonstrated new Series II AE and Series II AEO burners. The supplier said its technology places it well ahead of EU targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and achieve energy savings of 20% by 2020.

The new burners allow an appliance OEM to reduce gas consumption for energy savings; reduce emissions to exceed green gas standards; and provide appliance consumers with the benefits of reduced cooking times and energy costs.

AE stands for Alta (High) Efficienza (Efficiency), and laboratory data on the Series II AE burners show an efficiency of 69%. Switching to the new series is made easy for OEMs already using the standard Series II burners because the Series AE has the same fit. Manufacturing dies, for example, will not need to be changed to make the transition.

The Chinese market requires the use of burner cap materials that resist higher temperatures, such as brass. The O in Series II AEO burners stands for Ottone (Brass). This series has brass burner caps and is designed to be totally interchangeable with the Series AE. This series is also recommended for the semi-professional sector and for Middle East markets. The covers on both burners are designed so they cannot be put on incorrectly, so the user gets the correct functionality. Both types also have standard, incandescent ignition or re-ignition.

The company also launched Dual Double Ring Burners—small, multi-crown burners designed to be powerful (maximum power of 5.0 kW, with some versions reaching 6.0 kW), offering a dual control. The component attains an efficiency of 60% (Sabaf says most multi-crown burners do not exceed 53–54%). The dual control means the internal crown can be regulated separately from the external one and allows the burner to be set down to a power level as low as 0.3 kW for delicate cooking procedures.


Remote ignition devices from Channel Products offer different mounting options and a more-compact design, giving appliance OEMs more design flexibility.

Flexibly Small

The size of components is important even in gas technology for appliances. Smaller parts mean more engineering flexibility, giving OEMs more options to solve problems and more potential to achieve product differentiation through design. Channel Products Inc. (Chesterland, OH, U.S.; www.channelproducts.com) took that approach with new remote ignition devices. A more-compact design is 40% smaller than previous offerings, and for even more design flexibility, it can be mounted in two orientations.

These devices are intended for use in a variety of applications by their very nature—using remote ignition devices, with remote power sources, means a spark can be initiated from a remote location without being attached to the power grid. Re-ignition systems sense flame and begin sparking to relight the burner when flame is no longer detected. They also offer a variety of voltages, “making them a high-quality option for applications such as ranges, RV applications and BBQ grills,” says Steve Hussell, Channel’s director of marketing and sales.

Innovating the Future

Saint-Gobain this summer completed the expansion of its largest international research center. The $15 million expansion of the R&D facility in Northboro, MA, U.S. is 60,000 sq ft and the center employs 200 scientists and engineers researching ceramics, plastics, building materials, and abrasives. Saint-Gobain CEO Pierre-André de Chalendar, at the opening of the new facility, called innovation “central to our long-term business strategy.”

The building is expected to receive a Gold Rating in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program—making it one of very few North American buildings to qualify for this peak-level energy-efficiency and sustainability rating. Chalendar said the building, built with materials from several Saint-Gobain businesses, is symbolic for the company as it puts increasing focus on meeting sustainability needs across its product lines.

Key to the gas appliance industry is Saint-Gobain’s Advanced Ceramics Igniter Products business, supplying hot surface igniters sold in voltages from 12 to 208–240 V and used worldwide in heating, cooking appliances, dryers, pellet stoves, commercial cooking, and other markets. Its Mini Igniter uses a nonporous, high-strength, proprietary composite material with high impact strength characteristics that have made the igniter popular in gas-fired heating applications. The company’s Crystar igniters are made from recrystallized silicon carbide, a proprietary advanced ceramic engineered to combine physical and thermal strength with stable electrical properties.

Clearly, the suppliers of ignition systems and gas technology are ready to develop new safe materials and products with higher efficiency and lower emissions to meet any green standards of tomorrow



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