How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 918

How does a halogen cooktop unit heat up food? — BS, Logan, UT
A halogen cooktop unit uses thermal radiation to transfer heat to a pot or pan. All objects emit thermal radiation, but that radiation isn't visible until an object's temperature is at least 500° C. At higher temperatures, a significant fraction of an object's thermal radiation is visible light. In a halogen cooktop unit, an electrically heated tungsten filament is heated to the point where it emits a large amount of thermal radiation. Since the filament is small, it takes only a second or two for the filament to reach full temperature and begin emitting its intense thermal radiation. Any dark object above the unit will absorb this thermal radiation and experience a rise in temperature. When you turn off the unit, the filament cools rapidly and stops emitting its thermal radiation. The filament itself is protected from oxygen in the air by a heat-resistant glass envelope that's filled with halogen gas. This gas helps to keep the filament intact and prevents it from depositing tungsten atoms on the insides of the glass envelope.

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