DuPont Industrial Cellulosics by ChemPoint | Applications

Gel Fuels

Gel Fuels

Whether or cooking on a camping stove or keeping the buffet foods warm, gel fluids are becoming increasingly popular for contained flame. One key requirement for gel fuels is that they do not emit a smoke or odor that is potentially toxic. METHOCEL™ are used as thickeners for gel fuels primarily because they effectively modify the rheology but also burn off cleanly.

Without cellulose ethers, there is no gel in a gel fuel. Gel fuels are comprised of both an alcohol and a cellulose ether such as METHOCEL™ used as a thickener. The result is a gel fuel that burns cleanly, generates very little soot, is virtually smokeless, and does not produce harmful combustion byproducts. The thickener’s function is to control burn-rate, reduce evaporation rate, and to reduce possibility of spill. 

Gel fuels (solid fuels, fuel pastes) are broadly used for camping stoves, fire lighting fuel, chafing dishes, and fireplaces. Using gel fuels in areas that are traditionally dominated by firewood, paraffin, or liquefied petroleum gas can offer some distinct advantages. One key distinction is that they heat up to full intensity very quickly, as opposed to firewood or bio ethanol fuels, which take much longer to produce high heat. As a replacement for firewood in fireplaces, gel fuels offer light and heat but do not give off smoke and odor. They help to create a clean, contemporary look while preserving a traditional fire appearance. The key advantage of gel fuels in cooking is in the lack of smoke and noxious odors so that these are not imparted to the food.

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METHOCEL™ and CELLOSIZE™ are ideal thickener choices for a variety of gel fuel formulations, given their solubility in both organic solvents and water.

The desired appearance and burn rate of the gel fuel can easily be changed by varying the water addition. CELLOSIZE™ is a commonly used thickener in water-rich formulations (>25 wt-% water). Designated METHOCEL™ grades require less water for full dissolution. METHOCEL™ is commonly used in fuel gel formulations comprising 10-15% water.


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