Author Topic: Any steam engines left?  (Read 1110 times)

MachineNLectricMan

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Any steam engines left?
« on: September 07, 2021, 09:25:04 AM »
More nostalgic than anything else but would also be good for emergency emergency power. I.E. You can't get any fuel for your normal emergency Lister power. We had an ice storm once that was so bad you couldn't buy any fuel anywhere as there was no electricity anywhere to power the station pumps. Outages lasted a couple of weeks. Doesn't take but a few days to use up your reserves. If anything really bad happens there won't be any natural gas either to power those inefficient gas generators everyone is being conned into buying. Thanks to the tree huggers (whose tree's are now all burning down), the natural gas distributors are no longer allowed to burn natural gas to power the compressors that send the gas to you the customer. It's all electric now. Texas is a prime example of what can happen, seems the tree huggers got control of things there somehow before last winter. Next thing they'll have to use mule powered compressors with EPA emissions controls on the mules.

While extremely inefficient, steam could get you by until you could get other means back running. After all, you could burn just about anything to "raise steam". Our pioneers had been known to burn dried cow and buffalo chips, and even cook doing that. Not sure I would like my dinner meat smoked like that though.

Six to eight horsepower would be good. Steam engines are a bit "cool" anyway. Steam still remains a good way of heating too, and in that use is just as efficient as some modern means. This gives a double use for the boiler.

cobbadog

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Re: Any steam engines left?
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2021, 12:43:57 PM »
Love seeing steam but out here in Oz you have to have the boilers certified along with a certificate to operate a steam powered anything. We sometimes go to places just to watch these silent monsters tick over.
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mikenash

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Re: Any steam engines left?
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2021, 07:47:04 PM »
More nostalgic than anything else but would also be good for emergency emergency power. I.E. You can't get any fuel for your normal emergency Lister power. We had an ice storm once that was so bad you couldn't buy any fuel anywhere as there was no electricity anywhere to power the station pumps. Outages lasted a couple of weeks. Doesn't take but a few days to use up your reserves. If anything really bad happens there won't be any natural gas either to power those inefficient gas generators everyone is being conned into buying. Thanks to the tree huggers (whose tree's are now all burning down), the natural gas distributors are no longer allowed to burn natural gas to power the compressors that send the gas to you the customer. It's all electric now. Texas is a prime example of what can happen, seems the tree huggers got control of things there somehow before last winter. Next thing they'll have to use mule powered compressors with EPA emissions controls on the mules.

While extremely inefficient, steam could get you by until you could get other means back running. After all, you could burn just about anything to "raise steam". Our pioneers had been known to burn dried cow and buffalo chips, and even cook doing that. Not sure I would like my dinner meat smoked like that though.

While you COULD go out there and build a steam engine, imho you'd be better off just filling a couple of 200 litre drums brim-full with diesel and leaving them in the back of the shed

I'm inclined to add that trying to build a complex, high-maintenance bit of kit as s solution to a relatively simple problem is probably - and I do stress this is just a personal opinion - about as effective as blaming the greenies for everything from herpes to yellow snow around the Husky encampment

Six to eight horsepower would be good. Steam engines are a bit "cool" anyway. Steam still remains a good way of heating too, and in that use is just as efficient as some modern means. This gives a double use for the boiler.

cujet

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Re: Any steam engines left?
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2021, 06:29:24 PM »
From a thermodynamic point of view, both the output and the efficiency of a heat engine is directly related to the hot and cold temperatures achievable in the system. The post above is correct when stating the lack of efficiency and output. But what's not clear to most is just how poor those real world numbers are.

In real world terms, for this discussion, 5% efficiency is achievable with great effort. Without that effort, expect 3%. Very little of the heat of combustion is used to drive the piston down. There are many reasons for this, but consider the lack of significant steam heat as one of the thermodynamic reasons.

Combustion can be 2500-3500 degrees F. Steam at a difficult to manage 800PSI is 500 deg F. Remember, the amount of heat is directly related to output and efficiency. So, instead of working with 2000+ degrees, we are working with less than 500F.

Maybe a good comparison is an air compressor. A 2hp garage air compressor can't even sustain a 1/4HP die grinder.

To make matters worse, burning hardwood with a normal moisture content, it takes about 5 times more wood in weight than it does #2 heating oil or gasoline. 30 pounds of wood produces the same heat as a gallon. Add in heat transfer inefficiency and steam inefficiency and the best we can hope for is 200 pounds of wood might match a gallon in work produced.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2021, 06:40:20 PM by cujet »
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Tanman

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Re: Any steam engines left?
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2022, 06:02:17 PM »
Ive also thought of having a steam engine around, there are plans to build a 4hp one that I found. I also thought about using a normal gas water heater (rated to 150-160psi max), running it on wood in the lower burn chamber to produce steam and deliver it to the engine at 125psi. These plans are for an engine that produces 4hp at 600rpm with 125psi of steam.

https://www.reliablesteam.com/new/engines.php?iid=EN01

If I could safely build or buy a wood fired boiler and use the waste heat in my detached garage I could recapture a sizable percentage of the wasted energy. And use the 1.5-2kw produced by the engine to charge my battery bank on cold cloudy days.
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AdeV

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Re: Any steam engines left?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2022, 08:15:27 AM »
Some interesting reading here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_steam_technology

It seems you're not the only one thinking about steam as a potential power solution.... and given it's flexibility in fuel terms, one can see why... Here in the UK, one of our biggest formerly-coal burning powerstations now burns wood chips (which, from an environmental viewpoint, turns out to be a bit of a face-palm as we have to import much of the wood-chip that gets burned from overseas!). Of course, the rest of the plant remains a BFO steam turbine or three.

I'd love to have a steam engine chuffing away generating my electricity - especially in the winter months when the workshop is bloody freezing - but the effort involved in keeping it fuelled and tuned and maintained is, frankly, not compatible with doing my day job, which requires a reasonably robust and 24x7 supply of electricity.
Cheers!
Ade.
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cobbadog

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Re: Any steam engines left?
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2022, 10:13:51 AM »
I went to a Ralliy one time that had a portable steam engine that would end up coupled to a genertor via a flat belt to provide some of the lights round the arena. At the same time during the day there was a young lad being taught how to operate the engine and how, when and where to feed the fire and monitor the pressure and introduce more water.
I know the owner of the engine and he told me to come back later when the lights are on to see the difference.
Well the oung lad went from being fairly layed back and easily keeping the engine slowly ticking over while not driving anything and he thought it was an easy job. Well by night time the poor young fella was in a sweat on a very cool night trying keep up with the demand of the generator. When you know what to expect you can plan better but the owner decided to teach the young bloke a hard lesson and it worked.
The same pair still do demonstrations and the once learner now ticket holder doesit far better than before. Lesson is that once you start dragging power out the boiler requires more attention if it is wood burning.
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scott p

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Re: Any steam engines left?
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2022, 06:58:34 PM »
Speaking of steam, heard about this the other day. Back in time there was a device that used steam to shoot projectiles and was  apparently designed by Archimedes. Basically, one end of  the cannon is  heated and then  water is injected into the heated end and the resulting water explosion can boost the projectile out of the barrel.

What caught my attention was the possibility that this concept is only a couple steps away from a steam engine that doesn't require a boiler per say but would still need a robust expansion chamber. If a drop of water explodes instantly the water expands 1700% and could generate lots of torque to a steam engine under the right conditions or it could  blow up under the wrong conditions.

The solar people  use concentrated sunlight to  heat salts or oil, which do not develop pressure when heated and they hold their temperature better than water when under use.
 
My picture of a  expansion chamber would be a hollow tube closed at both ends with a  drilled rod through the center and connected to  an ejector at one end and the steam engine at the other. The tube would be full of hot oil.