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OT: Brits Build Steam Powered Race Car

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  • OT: Brits Build Steam Powered Race Car

    One idea for it is to help drive interest in alternative fuels. You can read the article here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4076811.stm

  • #2
    Hmm.. If you read carefully you find he is only trying to break the land speed record for STEAM cars. Seeing as how that was set in 1906 at 127.659 mph (or 121.7 depending on source) that shouldn't be too difficult.
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    • #3
      If it was easy it would have been done 97 years ago.

      I wish the men the best of luck.

      remember the guys with 30,000 c cell batteries going 250+ mph on electric.


      [This message has been edited by tattoomike68 (edited 12-29-2004).]

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      • #4
        It is that easy. It's just that most people aren't willing to wait half an hour for their engine to warm up.

        Hey, wait a minute.. I do that right now... (-25 predicted for later this week)
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        • #5
          my old beater cost a buck or two to warm up also

          -2c or 28f here now.

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          • #6
            There are a lot of advantages to steam power for automobiles. The electric starter pretty much did them in. Had as much time and money been put into their development as was put into the IC engine, our mode of transportation might have been very different today.

            The Doble flash boiler could go from cold iron (66* F) to 1200 psi in 3 min. 30 sec. Minimum operating pressure of 600 psi in 2 min. 50 sec. Much less time than it takes my wife to get from the kitchen to the car.
            Jim H.

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            • #7
              <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by tattoomike68:
              If it was easy it would have been done 97 years ago.

              I wish the men the best of luck.

              remember the guys with 30,000 c cell batteries going 250+ mph on electric.


              [This message has been edited by tattoomike68 (edited 12-29-2004).]
              </font>
              Stanley had a wire wound flash point boiler that got steam in less than ten minutes.
              Evan is right. most people don't want to wait for their boiler to get up steam. However the range of fuels available to make it work, make it an attractive motion alternative.

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              • #8
                There are a number of practical considerations that make steam engines either unattractive or even unusable as motive power for the general public. First is complexity. If the need to constantly refill the boiler from some source of demineralized water is to be avoided then a full condensing system must be used. This is not easy to implement given the space constraints. Secondly, it doesn't idle unless you implement a full clutch and transmisiion system, somthing that would negate much of the advantage of a steam engines power curve. Most important, a steam engine would be useless with water as the working fluid in climates where it freezes. Using another working fluid would involve serious efficiency compromise and cost increase although it can be done.

                Many people have experimented with steam over the years including attempts to develop a steam aircraft engine. None have been able to beat the IC engine or even come close in a variable speed prime mover role.
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                • #9
                  Steam cars are great but they are thermodynamically inefficient. You can't overcome the losses associated with a double conversion Otto cycle. I can't see much hope for them in head to head competition with internal combustion engines. Modern gas engines can get 0.41 HP/hr per pound of fuel and Diesel 0.35. A small 100 HP steam plant running condensing can't compete with even gas engines not only because of efficiency but because of state laws covering fired pressure vessels and their need for regular inspections. There's also collision safety. 10 gallons of water at 1200 PSI at saturated steam temperature if suddenly released would expand to a room sized cloud of steam scalding every square inch of living flesh within it.

                  Consider boiler maintenence. If water is used as the working fluid there is corrosion and evaporating tube deposits to remedy.

                  Steam is a good propulsion method if it can be scaled up to a size that permits its economies to pay for the additional maintenence. Fossil fueled steam ships are now the exception where steam has largely given way to diesel and gas turbine. It's only in coal fired base load electric plante where stem can still hold its own.

                  I wish those steam record car guys luck but I wouldn't expect to see their inspired designs in any production automobile or truck.

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                  • #10
                    what about this idea then.
                    with all the heat an internal combustion engine gives out ...you could power an auxilary steam engine and get the best of both worlds .
                    all the best.mark

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                    • #11
                      Steam is just plain cool. BAH to inneficiency!

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                      • #12
                        <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Forrest Addy:
                        Steam cars are great but they are thermodynamically inefficient. You can't overcome the losses associated with a double conversion Otto cycle. I can't see much hope for them in head to head competition with internal combustion engines. Modern gas engines can get 0.41 HP/hr per pound of fuel and Diesel 0.35.

                        It's only in coal fired base load electric plante where stem can still hold its own.

                        </font>
                        The large scale steam plant can be significantly more efficient than the best internal combustion engine. That is based on the physics. That's why steam more than "holds its own". But even there, non-steam plants are used for variable load and peaking. Steam carries the "base load" very well and almost at theoretical max efficiency.

                        Auto usage is variable speed.....problem with efficiency. Marine plants are much more constant load, and even there diesel took over starting about 100 years ago.

                        The other difficulty is in scaling. A small mobile steam plant, such as a "Big Boy" or "Allegheny" locomotive, is inherently limited by space and weight available.

                        Can't run condensing, to start with. There isn't room for a workable condenser. That dumps a big chunk of efficiency right there.

                        Any reciprocating engine has issues of fluctuating cylinder temperature that are mighty hard to get around. That is the reason for "uniflow" engines.

                        Then, the space for boiler is an issue. Boiler safety is a big issue, as mentioned.
                        &lt;It shouldn't be, as the water-tube flash boilers have very little HP water in them at any given time. But tell that to a frightened mother who knows how to call her congressperson.&gt;

                        After all that, you still need a space approximately as big as a gas engine for the steam engine.

                        You still need space for fuel. Probably more fuel due to inefficiency.

                        The fuel can vary, of course, but not in one single unit. The burner for solid fuel is different than for liquid. LNG is slightly different from LP in burner.

                        The very few advantages are totally outweighed by the disadvantages unless there is NO other alternative.



                        [This message has been edited by J Tiers (edited 12-29-2004).]
                        CNC machines only go through the motions.

                        Ideas expressed may be mine, or from anyone else in the universe.
                        Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
                        Number formats and units may be chosen at random depending on what day it is.
                        I reserve the right to use a number system with any integer base without prior notice.
                        Generalizations are understood to be "often" true, but not true in every case.

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                        • #13
                          Well they are going to burn LPG to heat a working fluid (H2O ) to run through a turbine. Although I wish them luck and find the whole enterprise a little on the neat side it also strikes me as a case of typical (dives for cover here) British ecentricity. True a steam tubine probably does not have to with stand the temperatures that its gas brothern do but basically they are the same machine on the turbine side. They are just getting they're working fluid to run the turbine from different sources. The steam turbine is getting its working fluid from a boiler and the gas turbine is getting its from the compressor stage and burner cans. Seems to me the gas tubine is probaly more efficent than the steam turbine and much more compact especially in some sort of condenser is employed. Didn't Volvo have a gas turbine hybrid running around about 10/15 years ago when the rage in automotive reasearch was ceramics. If the materials research in ceramics ever pays off one could build gas turbines cheaply and run at a steady speed they could provide the power producing side of a hybrid
                          Forty plus years and I still have ten toes, ten fingers and both eyes. I must be doing something right.

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                          • #14
                            Turbine-electric is already on the road.

                            http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/RT1996/6000/6920v.htm
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                            • #15
                              <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Spin Doctor:
                              Although I wish them luck and find the whole enterprise a little on the neat side it also strikes me as a case of typical (dives for cover here) British ecentricity. </font>
                              Hey I resemble that remark

                              .

                              Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.



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