Makers: Electric Cream Heater

untitledThis had to be the most unusual display I saw for the day at Maker Faire Africa. Paul Karikari has developed this method of blending together aluminum shavings, water, and some kind of powder to produce a very powerful heating agent. When stored in a container, it emanates a great deal of heat. He and his assistant showed several examples of what could be practical implementations such as a fridge that they had converted in to a heating box, a speaker which they converted in to a space heater, and lastly a pot that they converted in to an “emergency iron”.
It’s all new to me. I had no idea that aluminum would work to produce this kind of effect. From what I’m told, it’s probably all due to a reaction of the components which then boils off the water and heats. Because once bought, the super secret mixture will work for months if not years as long as you add new water to it.
Again, I don’t get it, but I was a horrible student in chemistry. They are however basing a great deal of the model on using aluminum. This particular item is quite cheap in Ghana as they mine it here. I really admire how they are using a common element to power their heater, but that makes the heater really best suited for a place like Ghana. Places where heating is required in larger amounts have aluminum costing a great deal more.
Still, there could be some potential with their design. It is definitely cheap and it did indeed produce heat. If used in a place like the US, there would be never ending questions as to what is in it, but I suppose that bridge would be crossed once it appeared on the horizon.
Makers: Electric Cream Heater

6 Replies to “Makers: Electric Cream Heater”

  1. I bet the cream is a paste made from wood ash and water. The alkaline ash reacts with aluminium to release a lot of heat. Aluminium ore is cheap but the metal takes a lot of energy to extract from the ore. This is the energy that is being released. It isn’t free energy.

  2. Maybe a mixture of aluminum with, say, iron oxide or the like?

    You’ll need to replace the basic ingredients to keep that reaction going, not just water.

  3. Thanks for chiming in on possible systems for this to work. Maybe the guy has his own mixture yet, but even if the gas it puts out isn’t toxic, it was tough watching him reach in to the aluminum and scoop up the mix by hand as I can’t see how that would be healthy.

  4. I recently heard from a friend who is an expert on water filtration that aluminum is toxic and migrates to the brain if not causing then heavily linked to Alzheimers. Some more net surfing showed that it is present in various common processed foods (cheese, non-dairy creamer, self-rising dough) shampoos, and also in cookware which releases into food. Apparently we can excrete small amounts of aluminum but large amounts are dangerous. So if this aluminum cream is going to be a mainstay of African manufacturing and domestic heat generation then maybe the makers should be made aware of it so they can make something to minimize toxicity to themselves and their products’ users. Otherwise, sounds really cool. Though I believe there are lots of other exothermic reactions available. Funny how aluminum metal is cheap there.

  5. Aluminium and Alzheimers link has been discredited – it was due to laboratory contamination.

  6. anaon pls. cite; AlF is neurotoxic, but the MSDS cite 2.5mg/m3 as an exposure limit (kind of high, fluoridosis limit or otherwise.) Al2O3…6 are of course common minerals. Overall, you do not want to put fluoridated water into such an oven with any risk of it going into groundwater rather than a refinery that can handle it. –bias and some age, but some wisdom too –some citation
    Ah. ‘Ere ya go:

    Best o’ luck making new working component distribution loops though; distributing power in sulfur(+6) is sometimes a compelling notion.

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