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Author Topic: So what are the real issues when using alternative fuel in a WFO?  (Read 682 times)

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Offline newfangled

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I posted basically the same question in another thread, but I feel that it might actually generate some conversation if I put it in a thread of its own.

I want to set up a very basic pizza place in South East Asia. I do not want to use wood due to deforestation issues. I will either be buying a second hand WFO, build my own, or get a WFO from Pizza Party.

I have found these groovy food grade charcoal briquettes made from coconut husk. http://www.sgfe-cambodia.com/
I guess I would be using the "diamond" product that is free from additives.  The briquettes are quite big (maybe 10cm long) and have a hole straight through them, so airflow around and through them should not be a problem. The caloric value is not extremely high for this product as far as I can tell. I've been told it is 29 J per KG, but I guess they mean 29 MJ per KG?

So what is the ACTUAL problem with putting a charcoal product inside a Pizza Party type oven? I assume the 40% oxygen content of regular wood would have to be replaced somehow, either with running with an open hatch, or by drilling a hole and attaching a pipe with a tiny fan blowing into it (for example).

Have any of you gurus and happy amateurs tested this, or thought about this issue before? I'd be grateful for any pointers.

EDIT: Add-on question. Another thread mentions that coal is very dry and therefore tough on the cheese. Could one not solve this problem by putting a tiny bowl of water inside the oven?


« Last Edit: August 16, 2017, 06:50:04 PM by newfangled »

Offline newfangled

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Re: So what are the real issues when using alternative fuel in a WFO?
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2017, 10:08:56 PM »
Nobody?

Offline mrmojo1

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Re: So what are the real issues when using alternative fuel in a WFO?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2017, 01:10:05 AM »
the only people i have heard using charcoal have been kettle pizza makers on the forum!  new york has famous coal fired ovens, i believe places like lombardis always used coal for over 100 yrs now.....i believe the grimaldis pizza chain also says they use coal.....but if you don't want to use wood what about gas?  i think you can buy a gas pizzone now.....

"My Doctor says I swallow a lot of aggression.  Along with a lot of pizzas!!"

-John Candy(Stripes)

Offline newfangled

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Re: So what are the real issues when using alternative fuel in a WFO?
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2017, 07:33:10 AM »

Yeah, gas is an idea. I just had this idea that I should use a fuel that does not affect this third world nation negatively, whether it be environmentally or financially. Gas is imported here. I'd rather use a local fuel, if I can.

Are there any definitive thread on fuels at this forum? I fail to find one.

Very interesting info about Grimaldis and Lombardis. Thanks Mojo
« Last Edit: September 09, 2017, 07:36:44 AM by newfangled »

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: So what are the real issues when using alternative fuel in a WFO?
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2017, 09:00:33 AM »
A couple observations. First, coal and charcoal are not the same thing nor are they interchangeable. Coal is basically pure carbon.  Second, coal requires a specially designed oven. The airflow in a coal oven is completely different than in a WFO. These are somewhere in the middle between coal and wood.

I suspect these are designed to be burned standing on end so that the hole through the middle is vertical. Obviously, they won't fin in a PP like that. Burned on edge, I think you might struggle to generate enough heat in a PP. Given the small space, you need a fuel that converts to heat very rapidly. Maybe breaking these up into smaller pieces might work? I think you could get a decent temp that way, but my guess is that Neapolitan temps would be a challenge. I think to get to Neapolitan temps you might need to have a constant source of forced air. Maybe you could drill a hole through the front of the oven and run a pipe with holes in it along the floor and have a fan blow air through the pipe into the fire. It would be a big gamble to test the theory though.

Why not get some and try burning them in the oven whole and broken up and see what happens?
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Offline mrmojo1

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Re: So what are the real issues when using alternative fuel in a WFO?
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2017, 07:36:04 PM »
Good info Craig!  I should have been more careful with my words.  Didn't mean to suggest burning coal in PP! Or any oven not designed for coal,   And I know charcoal and coal are much different was thinking of alternative fuels to wood that get ovens to high temps a fuel burning oven not wood and the new York coal fired ovens came to mind. 
"My Doctor says I swallow a lot of aggression.  Along with a lot of pizzas!!"

-John Candy(Stripes)

Offline newfangled

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Re: So what are the real issues when using alternative fuel in a WFO?
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2017, 07:49:38 PM »
Thx Craig and Mojo

These briquettes are really quite small. About 5cm high as far as I can tell. Their caloric value is similar to that of wood.  This is what they look like https://youtu.be/ZHTlzK6SzqY?t=96
I will try to borrow somebody's oven to try them out.
Points noted regarding forced air.

I think I might try to get an oven locally. Seems like a Pizza Party costs $500 to deliver here. Might try to make an oven, or get one from China nextdoor.






Offline TXCraig1

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Re: So what are the real issues when using alternative fuel in a WFO?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2017, 12:12:16 AM »
If you make one and plan to burn those briquettes, I'd design it with an air grate under the burn area. That should make it simple to use a fan to blow air up through them. The space under the grate will need to be large enough to catch the ash. The burn grate needs to be (1) heavy duty, and (2) replaceable.

Unlike with wood, when you have a charcoal fire going, don't mess with it. Just add more to the top as needed.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

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