As environmental and safety regulations grow more demanding a question that is on the minds of welding operators is worth examining closely: Can a safe and environmentally sound welding process also promise high-quality connections? According to the developer of a new, mixed oxygen-hydrogen gas generator unit, the answer is yes.

Another quality detail is that, thanks to the neutral flame and high temperature (3,650°C), the Oweld mixed-gas generator allows brazing alloys to penetrate deeper into the joint, producing a stronger connections.

Enrico Andreetta, general manager of Oxyweld International, a global company based in Italy that designs hydrogen gas generators, explains that welding, brazing, and soldering can be performed using an oxygen-hydrogen gas generator using just water and electricity. Gas is generated through a particular electrolytic cell, able to get H2-O2 from the water.

The gas that is produced emerges perfectly mixed from a single pipe, so there is no need to adjust the mixture of the two gases. The flame has a perfect stoichiometric ratio of H2-O2, Andreetta reports, and thanks to the design of the Oweld mixed-gas generator there are significant advantages for quality, cost, and operator health and safety.

Process quality
In detailing the reliability and performance of Oweld mixed-gas generator, it’s notable that the flame produced is neutral and concentrated. Therefore, the heat the flame generates is localized and tactical, eliminating the risk of overheating a workpiece or nearby components. “Such a flame drastically reduces the oxidation inside brazed pipes,” according to Andreetta. For refrigeration and/or air-conditioning technicians, less oxidation inside the copper tubing will prolong the service life of the components.

The generator mixes the two gases automatically, eliminating human error, so the flame’s quality is consistent, every time it is ignited, which improves the quality of the production and standardizes the process.

Costs saved
In economic terms, Andreetta explains that the Oweld unit generates gas from distilled water and electrical current, so the users will save on the cost of process gas, storage, cylinder rental and transport. In addition, the cost to comply with workcell safety standards is less than may be expected with more complex gas-generating systems, as is the cost to train operators to manage the process of mixing gas with a conventional torch.

Manufacturing costs also will be reduced with the Oweld mixed-gas generator, because the high-temperature flame allows operators to work two- to three-times faster than with a conventional gas-mixing system, Andreetta claims.

Safety and health
Possibly the most important advantages of the Oweld mixed-gas generator system are the safety factors. By adopting the process, operators will eliminate their need for gas cylinders and the constant possibility of explosion that they represent.

During production the mixed-gas generator produces an environmentally friendly flame, because the combustion of hydrogen and oxygen produce only water vapor, not CO2 or any other emissions. The result is better working conditions for the operators.

In addition, the gas pressure inside the generator is very low (<10 psi or <0.5 bar), which is below any safety standard regulation: OSHA compressed gas standards apply to pressures 15 psi and greater.

Add to these factors the fact that there is no need to store hydrogen, because the Oweld machine produces gas on demand. Operators do not need to wear dark glasses when using the system, because the flame is not carbonized and the fumes it produces are up to 70% less by volume than what is produced during a conventional brazing process.

There are more advantages to the Oweld mixed-gas generator, too, starting with convenience. “This generator system is flexible and easily transported,” Andreetta explains. “Most are equipped with wheels for ease of movement.” This makes it flexible for use in numerous welding and brazing applications, including electric motor repair and manufacturing, transformers production, precious metals and glass fabrication, as well as several others — in addition to refrigeration and air conditioning already mentioned.