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Piezo ignition

Piezo ignition

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Piezo ignition is a type of ignition
Combustion or burning is the sequence of exothermic chemical reactions between a fuel and an oxidant accompanied by the production of heat and conversion of chemical species. The release of heat can result in the production of light in the form of either glowing or a flame...

 that is used in portable camping stoves, gas grills
Grill (cooking)
A barbecue grill is a device for cooking food by applying heat directly from below. There are several varieties of such grills, with most falling into one of two categories: gas-fueled and charcoal. There is a great debate over the merits of charcoal or gas for use as the cooking method between...

 and some lighter
A lighter is a portable device used to generate a flame. It consists of a metal or plastic container filled with a flammable fluid or pressurized liquid gas, a means of ignition, and some provision for extinguishing the flame.- History :...

s, and potato guns. It consists of a small, spring-loaded hammer which, when a button is pressed, hits a crystal of PZT
Lead zirconate titanate
Lead zirconate titanate , also called PZT, is a ceramic perovskite material that shows a marked piezoelectric effect. PZT-based compounds are composed of the chemical elements lead and zirconium and the chemical compound titanate which are combined under extremely high temperatures. A filter is...

 or quartz
Quartz is the second-most-abundant mineral in the Earth's continental crust, after feldspar. It is made up of a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall formula SiO2. There are many different varieties of quartz,...

A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. The scientific study of crystals and crystal formation is known as crystallography...

. Quartz is piezoelectric, which means that it creates a voltage
Voltage, otherwise known as electrical potential difference or electric tension is the difference in electric potential between two points — or the difference in electric potential energy per unit charge between two points...

 when deformed. This sudden forceful deformation produces a high voltage
High voltage
The term high voltage characterizes electrical circuits in which the voltage used is the cause of particular safety concerns and insulation requirements...

 and subsequent electrical discharge, which ignites the gas
Gas is one of the three classical states of matter . Near absolute zero, a substance exists as a solid. As heat is added to this substance it melts into a liquid at its melting point , boils into a gas at its boiling point, and if heated high enough would enter a plasma state in which the electrons...


No external electric connection is required, though wires are sometimes used to locate the sparking location away from the crystal itself. Piezo ignition systems can be operated by either a lever, push-button or built into the control knob. Only one electric spark
Electric spark
An electric spark is a type of electrostatic discharge that occurs when an electric field creates an ionized electrically conductive channel in air producing a brief emission of light and sound. A spark is formed when the electric field strength exceeds the dielectric field strength of air...

 is generated per turn of the knob or press of the button.

Lighters with piezo-electric ignition typically do not work or have great difficulty at high altitude, if the striking mechanism is improperly aligned. They are unsuitable for mountaineering
Mountaineering or mountain climbing is the sport, hobby or profession of hiking, skiing, and climbing mountains. While mountaineering began as attempts to reach the highest point of unclimbed mountains it has branched into specialisations that address different aspects of the mountain and consists...

or other high altitude applications. The higher the altitude, the less likely a lighter with piezo-electric ignition is to work. Above 8000 feet lighters with piezo-electric ignition are no longer reliable.

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