As soon as summer weather hits, Americans light up the grill for more than just special holidays, according to Online Athens.
Nearly three out of four adults own at least one grill or smoker.
Thanks to scientists at the University of Georgia College of Engineering and a company in Monroe, backyard grill masters can use more environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to petroleum-based charcoal lighter fluids.
Lighter fluid can release compounds that leave an unpleasant taste and odor on grilled foods. Manufactured by ESCOGO, EcoGreen Charcoal Lighter is made of plant-based products.
“They had a product that worked great on lump charcoal but briquettes are much denser and the fluid would burn off before getting the briquette hot enough to ignite,” said Dan Geller, a research engineer in UGA’s College of Engineering. “We needed a product that burned really well and one that met the strict air quality concerns for volatile organic compounds.”
The product also needed to be priced to compete with other options already on the market.
UGA and ESCOGO performed trials on over 100 formulas and organic ingredients before finding an all-natural byproduct of the fermentation industry.
“We looked at a lot of different options that would burn, that we could buy in large volume, and that were natural byproducts of other industries,” said Geller. “This really was a classic engineering design problem because we were trying to figure out a way to meet all these specific constraints.”
The Center of Innovation for Agribusiness, a state agency that provides technical assistance and connections to academic, business and government resources, provided funding for the project.
“We didn’t have the research and development expertise or the budget to come up with this new formula,” said Rick Huszagh, a founding member of ESCOGO. “Working with the University of Georgia, with the grant money we received from the innovation center, allowed us to come up with a formula that works great and diversifies our product line.”
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