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Thread: Coal Dust Engine:

  1. #1

    Default Coal Dust Engine:

    A buddy told me the first diesel engines were fueled with coal dust. Dose any one know of plans for a model of this engine? Richard

  2. #2
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    Careful there Richard. It was just such an engine that exploded and killed Rudolph Diesel. And it was just a little experimental engine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Forrest Addy
    Careful there Richard. It was just such an engine that exploded and killed Rudolph Diesel. And it was just a little experimental engine.
    Not quite true.
    His original design was for an engine which could burn coal dust, and yes he did have problems with it. The cylinder head got blown off one prototype. He eventually realised that oil fuel was a much better bet, which might have made him unpopular with the German govt. There were mountains of coal dust in Germany just looking for a good useful home which could have saved a bundle on the foreign exchange bills.
    He actually met his end, it seems, falling from a ferry ship. There are conspiracy theories that he was actually pushed, he wasn't popular (again) with the German govt as he was critical of their foreign policy.

    Tim

  4. #4
    Norman Atkinson Guest

    Default Coal Dust engine

    Somewhere in a dusty corner(!) is a recollection of a jet engine made by Lorin and Babst and ran on coal dust. This was from 1944 or thereabouts when it was last mentioned.

    Cheers

    Norm

  5. #5
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    Goes to show that I sould check my facts before blithely posting remembrances of 40 years ago.

    THis from Wickipedia; "On September 29, 1913, while in Antwerp, Diesel boarded the SS Dresden ferry to cross the English Channel. The next morning, the steward discovered that Diesel's cabin was empty. Diesel's body was found in the Scheldt river on October 18.

    "One theory in Diesel's death is that he died by suicide, possibly due to being deeply in debt. His family stated that he committed suicide because his invention was stolen and a cross in his journal on the date he died indicates suicide. Also, a briefcase containing a very small sum of money and a large amount of debt-ridden bank statements was left to his wife, Martha.

    Another theory revolves around the German military, which was beginning to use his engines on their submarines. Diesel opposed this usage, and may have feared that his invention could wind up powering the British Royal Navy submarine fleet."

    Not all dumbs are old fart.

    End of hi-jack. Please return to Richard's original topic of coal dust burning engines..

  6. #6
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    Lyle Cummins, son of Clessie, wrote a book, "Diesel and his Engine, from conception until 1918" or something like that.

    Diesel's original patent called for running the engine on coal dust, but his first experiments used something akin to gasoline. The first attempts resulted in an explosion that nearly killed him and his lab worker. After long experimentation in attempts to eliminate the severe pounding/knocking, he tried fuel similar to fuel oil and was rewarded with something approaching success. There was still a long way to go.

    That book was interesting, and VERY detailed, lots of stuff on reversing gear used on marine applications where they'd stop the engine and reverse rotation to back up.

    Lyle also wrote a book on his father, Clessie.

    Interesting tidbit on the latter: Clessie retired from Cummins Engine Co. in the 1940s and set up a shop and lab at his home. He invented a means of developing braking, which a Diesel engine is poor at. Having no throttle, there's no pumping losses, it just bounces the pistons against compression, making downhill runs in a truck rather exciting. Clessie couldn't get Cummins interested in manufacturing his brake and ended up hooking up with a company through family connections that agreed to manufacture the device. It's called a "Jake Brake", short for "Jacobs Brake", Jacobs being the same company that manfactures drill chucks under their name.

  7. #7
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    There were several other forms of dust engines made at various times.One significant problem they have is the dust itself.There is no reliable way to garantee the same energy density between different charges of dust.Caking and contamination along with humidity all play a factor.Liquid fuel is much easier to manufacture and meter in specific tolerances.

    It might be fun to play with,but I would give the design one hell of a safty factor

  8. #8
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    Some time in the late 80's or early 90's i saw what was labeled as gm prototype car , it had typical tube chassis similar to a race car and fiberglass body, nothing special, what caught my eye was the small rear wheel mounted turbine that the sign said was gm prototype coal dust as fuel
    turbine,, i tried to find more info never heard another word about.I have since assumed that they could not overcome technical problems. I did assume their would be smoke problem. I used to visit a coal fired electrical plant they would grind the coal to dust blow it in the funace it looked like giant blow torch.

  9. #9
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    2 problems with coal dust IC engine. 1 The ash is abrasive to piston/cylinder or turbine vanes. 2 The ash would be considered a very major particulate emission.

    Ed

  10. #10
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    I have a 30 page article titled "German Fuel Policy & Experimental Engine Design (1890 - 1945)" by M.C. Duffy, published in Journal No: 8 of the International Stationary Steam Engine Society. (Still available from ISSES).

    This article looks at the coal-burning "diesel engine" amongst other ideas, including internal combustion boilers (fuel burnt underwater, in the boiler), rotating steam boilers, even mentions a coal-burning aero-engine (but not much is known of this one). It also examines the reasons why Germany was looking for alternatives to oil (sounds a bit like todays world).

    The coal-burning engine had a huge amount of work put into its development in Germany (estimated around 2000 man years of work), however this work seems to have ended after 1945 as oil became more readily available.

    Work has continued since WW2, particularly in the US and when the article was written most work centred around diesel engines burning coal-slurry, coal-derived liquid fuels and coal fluid mixes. Pulverised coal-firing still being worked on to a lesser extent. A lot of work was being done on coal fired gas turbines. The author finishes by saying "some form of coal-diesel, and coal-turbine, is likely to be established within the next ten years".

    For more information he recommends "The Development of Coal-Burning Diesel-Engines in Germany" A State-of-the-Art Review, by E. Soehngen & Associates, published in 1976 for United States Energy Research and Development Administration, also "Coal-Fueled Diesel Engines" by F. Robben, SAE paper No. 831747, published in 1983.

    It seems that while Rudolf Diesel did experiment with coal dust, it was one of his fellow workers, Rudolf Pawlikowski who went on to do the most important work on this system. Pawlikowski became sucessful in his own right as an inventor and manufacturer, and funded his own work on the coal-burner over many years. He held something like 200 patents and is said to have had an engine powering his own factory which accumulated 11,000 hours running time. He had a working design by 1916, and his ideas were taken up by several other companies (I.G. Farben, Hanomag and others).

    His design differed from Diesel, instead of using compressed air to 'inject' the coal dust into the combustion chamber via valves, he invented the idea (quote) "which used a pressure rise through partial combustion of dust inside a special pre-chamber (the "by-chamber") to force the fuel into the cylinder. This system, invented by Pawlikowski, had many advantages, including the heating of the fuel/air mixture by compression in the by-chamber, and its heating by contact with hot chamber walls and hot air from the cylinder, so that it was dried, de-gassed and prepared for self-igintion."

    Having said that, there were disadvantages, and the compression injection idea seems to have returned to favour later.

    Pawlikowski also tried other fuels in his engines - peat, rice, flour, sawdust, hay and others - this being what makes such an engine still attractive.

    As others have mentioned, the Lyle Cummins books are excellent - "Internal Fire" and "Diesel's Engine" in particular are superb books for anyone interested in the history of engines.

    ps, Richard, I see you are interested in plans - M.A.N. built the first engines for Diesel, maybe they have the drawings....why mess around with models, built the real thing! The Deutsches Museum in Munich (one of the three best technical museums in the world) has one of the first of these engines.
    Last edited by Peter S; 12-22-2006 at 05:46 AM.

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