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  • Steam engines

    I couldn't find a steam engine thread. I read the friction steam thread and it had just a bit about steam engines. The price of oil is going up. Every watt of solar energy that goes online hurts the traditional energy producers because it removes the higher profits from selling power during hot weather/peak loads. They are losing hundreds of $ billions and their bonds have been down-rated.

    It would be nice if we could use a ZPE conversion device, that isn't possible for most people. Liquid hydrocarbons are going way up in price and coal is being vilified. Firewood is a different story. Unlike money, wood does grow on trees. One just has to find the best conversion device for one's situation.
    While the GEK seems to be really nice, I want to write about steam.
    About Us - GEK Gasifier

    I have a place in Western Oregon that has an inconvenient hill to the south of me. But, I do have unlimited water and firewood. I've been looking at steam power over producer gas because it seems less finicky. Also, I can't hook the GEK up to a steam room.

    Steam Engines
    Everybody knows about the engines built by Mike brown. Nice but, expensive.
    Green Steam has engines that do away with the traditional crankshaft.
    Tinytech from India wants to sell steam engines,
    The Indian engines have a bad reputation.
    You generally have to dis assemble the beast and fit everything before you use it.
    NEST lists some steam engines, Directory:Steam Engines - PESWiki
    There are also steam conversions. One problem with steam engines is water contamination in the crankcase. They do sell oil meant for this situation. The best conversion seems to be a V2 compressor so that they can always self-start.
    This is a primitive conversion with bash valves.
    The way to get away from a wet crankcase is to use an oil-less compressor with sealed bearings.
    Kimmel Collection: Stan Jakuba V-2 Air Compressor Engine

    Here is a good animation on a double acting steam engine;
    This vid shows one at work;

    Ebay has some cute steam engines;
    Twin Cylinder Marine Steam Engine Fully Machined Kit 8M | eBay
    I believe that the way to go is to select one good oil-less compressor and make new heads for it. Sell them to everybody who wants an easy conversion.
    Oilless Schulz Air Compressor Pump 15 CFM 120PSI | eBay
    While it would be nice to build a double-acting engine, it is a lot more complex. They do have a LOT of torque though;

    Here is one last piston vid by a guy who can really build even though he lacks tools;
    I'll do a separate post for turbines and boilers.
    Last edited by Danny B; 03-28-2014, 02:40 AM. Reason: add something

  • #2
    Steam turbines

    Steam turbines generally means a Tesla turbine. I suppose that you could use steam with a Pelton wheel. Never tried it.
    Here are a few vids on the subject.
    New materials;
    Magnetic bearings;
    A few people are selling Tesla turbines; - Tesla Turbines
    The 2010 TeslaJet- Affordable and reliable turbine power

    Here is a book just on turbines;
    Articles on Turbines Including Steam Turbine Turbine Tesla Turbine Turbo 1243373814 | eBay
    Dave Gingerly is a fantastic designer. He designs machine tools for the DIYer that are simple to build . Here is a book on building the Tesla Turbine.
    Building The Tesla Turbine Gingery How to Book 1878087290 | eBay
    Here is a tech writeup on the Tesla turbine;
    Tesla Turbine - Open Source Ecology
    Mike Brown makes piston steam engines. Here is an article from him telling you how awful turbines are. It has a fair dose of mis-information;
    Steam Turbines

    This seems to be a vid showing a Tesla turbine generating electricity. They claim that it is operating at 850 rpm. This low rpm seems to be way out of the efficiency range for this type of turbine;
    Kubota sells a small PM generator that might take high rpm;
    Last but, not least, a well know Tesla turbine build;


    • #3
      Producing steam

      There are quite a few people offering solar heating ideas. Red Rock has a huge list of devices and ideas;
      Red Rock Energy Heliostats
      Acro Solar sells lots of parabolic stuff. Acro Solar Catalog - Dish Kits
      Acro sells a solar tracker for about $ 250. Red Rock sells one for about $ 39.
      Acro also is working with some kind of turbine mated with their solar collector. Not sure what type it is. They use a small tube type boiler. Reading indicates that a stainless steel tube wound in a coil form and cast into an aluminum block would work well for a solar-steam generator. Casting aluminum is so easy that you can even do it at the beach;
      Hexagonal Pewter Stool on Vimeo
      This is a pretty good vid on forming a coil with tubing;

      I've read claims that a solar heated coil cast in aluminum would benefit from as much surface area as possible. The idea that I came up with was to carve the hollow into a block of pumice. Pumice will take the heat and leave a very rough surface. Pumice is easy to carve and very available. Just fasten your coil to the bottom so that it doesn't float to the top. Nope,, I havenít done it yet.

      Youtube is full of ideas for building boilers. Anybody can find them. E-Bay has plans for boilers. An operating pressure somewhere around 180 psi seems adequate. I would build with a lot of margin.
      There is another option. There are tons of old steam cleaners lying around. I got a coil of an old Alkota cleaner for free. It operates at about 2,000 psi and is very heavy. I mated it right on top of a wood stove and I just play with the baffles to get the heat right. When i got it, it was somewhat plugged with precipitates and I had to clean it out with acid.
      The coils are made to stand a direct flame.

      This is supposed to be a good book on steam boilers and valves;
      Steam Engineering Seminar Manual (Boiler Basics)
      You can build with the water in the tubes and the flame outside. Or, you can build with the water outside the tubes and the flame passing on the inside.
      If you build with the water outside the tubes, It is much easier to keep the precipitates from plugging up the system.
      This is all pretty basic stuff but, I wanted to get it all together in one doc.


      • #4
        In the early 70's, the USDOE decided to build a steam power plant in the California desert. They took a standard water tank(like most small towns use), set it up and then took polished panels of aluminum or stainless steel, bent in a radius to reflect sunlight on the tank. Arranged in a large circle around the tank so that anywhere the sun shone from it was reflected onto the tank. They fitted a steam generator on top of this tank with a pressure relief valve that fed it. They claimed it only took around seven minutes for it to start producing electricity. They never attempted to collect and reuse the water, but simply let it evaporate into the air. They had to pump water from a river quite a ways off so they found they could not replenish the water fast enough and so shut it down. After all, it was only a test. They then deconstructed it and hauled it off. Our tax money at work. It can be done on a smaller scale if need be. The technology is not all that complicated. I would advise doing it a way from your home if you try it, for safety reasons. Good Luck. stealth


        • #5
          Natural Resources...

          Hello Danny,

          I personally do not think our future could be based on Technologies that burn or utilize our only Natural Resources "left"...after so much time burning oil and gas...then we go a step back in time to provide Energy an even older way.

          Cutting Trees out to make not the way to go...

          Separating Hydrogen from Water to burn it in order to run on also not a good idea...

          This Technologies could be used as an "alternative" in case of "emergency" or so...but never to become our primary Energy resource...otherwise...we will be coming back to our "Stone Age" Civilization.

          Kind Regards

          Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses- especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.― Leonardo da Vinci


          • #6
            We have always used steam engines and burning biomass is a reasonable solution on the surface but that is not how it works in reality. This is the largest steam engine running on biomass in the world Home | Drax It is located in Yorkshire, England and I have worked on it many times.

            The biomass is grown all over the planet and shipped there to be burned Woodland is shipped 3,800 miles and burned in Drax power station | Mail Online

            To make biomass a reasonable solution the transportation of biofuels has to be limited to local sources and the sources of fuel must be sustainable. This would mean small engines and nothing on the scale of this place. Drax is 3960 megawatts providing 7% of the UK's needs. The fuel must not be transported over large distances as this nullifies any of the benefits. This would mean in a country like the UK there would be hundreds of small power plants in the 100's of Kw range and the 100+megawatt plants would have to go.

            The CO2 produced could be either directly or indirectly fed back to the source. By the way CO2 is not, and never has been, a problem.

            I believe biomass as a source of power does have a place in our future, but not at the expense of growing food as it does now, and it needs to be on a relatively small scale. Obviously this could not produce all our power needs so we would need to have many other sources of power too. I believe having a diverse range of power producing methods is a good thing as this will make it a little harder for the monopoly players.


            • #7
              I would agree, biomass and trees are considered carbon neutral. It is also known that removing dead fall and old growth can produce a more robust ecosystem.
              The trick is understanding that high volume mass production (clear cutting) is not the same as selective clearing of old growth which promotes new growth. Where many people who don't understand natural systems consider them the same thing. The key word here is sustainability and common sense and we should only use as much as we need at a rate lower than new growth appears.

              As such burning wood at high efficiency for heat and power (CHP) on a local sustainable scale is far better than oil and gas. As well if I were to do it on my own land I would harvest wood in the spring and summer planting new trees as I went to ensure the resource was always increasing versus the standard slash and burn mentality most have. I don't utilize my tree's yet but last year alone I planted 40 fir, 60 poplar and 100 lilac on my property from cuttings with an 80% survival rate. I plan to do the same this year because I like tree's, it matters and it's the right thing to do.

              Last edited by Allcanadian; 03-30-2014, 04:05 PM.


              • #8
                Steam power where it is aplicable.

                UFOPolitics, I agree with you. You may have seen the thread on "economic pressures". As a quick summary, I believe that we are soon to be in a situation of "emergency." The obvious buildup to a police state coupled with the internment camps is an indication that GOV also believes in collapse. The stop-gap measure of fracking shows desperation. The U.S. military says that economic collapse is the greatest threat.

                Traditional oil supplies are shrinking in the lower 48. As tight oil is pumped at an ever-higher price, the rest of the economy shrinks. The rest of the world is quite rightly angry with us for blowing everything up and stealing everything.
                They soon won't send us oil except in exchange for gold.

                When the oil spigot slows down, GOV will take first share. The cities will receive quite a bit. The urban areas will be left in the dark.
                In a perfect world, we would all use our solar panels to charge our electric cars.
                I saw the crash coming back in 2005. I started getting ready. I bought property 3 miles East of Myrtle Point, Oregon. It has endless water and firewood. Unfortunately, it has a hill to the south and Iím limited on solar power. It's a bit of a canyon so, wind power is not so great. Steam power makes sense for that property. There are big coal deposits not too far away.

                Most people will be in a different situation and need different solutions.
                I have solar panels and the Bedini solar tracker. I have 20 of the 8D batteries. I have both a Lister and a Kubota single cylinder diesel generator. A few Kohler twin cyl gens. Invertors and convertors,,, Bedini chargers.

                Prof. Armstrong projects this depression to last 26 years.
                Armstrong Economics | Forecasting the World
                Jim Willie phd. says that the dollar will lose 80% of it's purchasing power in the next 3 years. It makes sense to purchase materials now.

                The PTB are going to try to preserve the cities. They will let the rural areas fend for themselves. They will draw resources towards the center and let the extremities die out.
                The Global Economy Suffers From Hypothermia - The Automatic Earth

                While I would love to have a free energy generator, there is another consideration to steam power. Somebody with a gun could easily run off with my Bedini 10 coil machine. They would have a very difficult time running off with a steam engine and boiler.

                Our economic system is crap and it is crashing. The bankers don't want to end the free ride and they block any attempts at a workable system.
                The Daily Bell - Antal Fekete's Neo-Misesian Revisionism and Why He Believes It Is Necessary

                GOV will look out for GOV and you will look out for you.


                • #9
                  Steam cars

                  Back in the 70s, the DOE actually did some good research on steam power. They funded solar 1 and solar 2 which were solar towers.
                  Solaripedia | Green Architecture & Building | Projects in Green Architecture & Building

                  Everyone knows about the early steam cars like the Stanley, White and Doble.
                  The DOE funded research on a modern steam car called the S.E.S.
                  SES Steam Car
                  Reportedly it had a lot of power and went pretty fast. Rumor has it that they are all stored in a warehouse in San Francisco. An Aussie produced a very interesting steam car,
                  The idea is interesting but, of no particular advantage to an IC engine.


                  • #10
                    Having worked on my fair share of steam engines both mobile and immobile in my mind its a safe bet that steam beyond powerplants is dead dead dead! We cannot make engines of the quality that was common in the 19th century. 1/100,000th of an inch was not too good of a tolerance for them. We cannot match that. Further more the engineering knowledge necessary to even be able to match what was done around 1900 doesnt exist anymore. It would take many decades to rediscover it, and put it into practice.

                    As far as mobile applications, the plymouth you reference shows just how crass modern engineering really is... poppet valves? Camshafts? Simpling only?! What they did was force explosion motor engineers to build a steam engine. They dont even take advantage of the natural push pull pressure vaccum dynamic of ye olden high pressure engines.

                    Boiler technology has now progressed to the point where full steam is achieved in less than 10seconds and is capable of continuous pressure delivery as long as its got water. I love steam but as far as a powerplant you could do little better than a restored mill engine(or similar), they are efficient quiet and long wearing. If you wanted to use steam that is....

                    For vehicles the doble with electronic conveniences is basically what you'd want.... i wouldnt want anything less than a compound or triple expansion either.... boiler options are neumerous.

                    Last i heard there were some doble guys working on modernising the basic doble setup. Those guys are like bently owners: constantly tinkering and updating their cars. Having driven a stanley i can say conclusively i wouldnt want my daily driver to be one! You need 50hands and feet to operate one... automation of steam is where its at. But few outside the steam community would care.

                    In my mind rather than high pressure steam we need to go back to watt and look at his stuff because they are vaccum engines, not pressure engines. Ie the power steoke is a pull not a push. I think if we were to take it in a direction of vaccum there might be something new to contribute, the old mine engines were never really developed beyond first iterations. Where as with high pressure engines youre basically beating a dead horse.


                    • #11
                      I believe these low pressure vacuum engines could be used in conventional power plants to take advantage of the steam coming out of the turbines. A typical turbine could supply hundreds of such engines that could all contribute to the power grid. All they do with this steam now is run it through a condenser and dump the energy into the environment.

                      The transition from steam to water liberates a lot of energy and this is where these engines come in. Yes they are big and so they will be expensive, but they are very reliable and simple to maintain. The same could be said for sterling engines.

                      In truth you could put high pressure engines in between the turbine and the low pressure engines as there is still significant pressure and heat in the steam coming out of the turbine.

                      In excess of 70% of the heat in a power station is lost through the smoke stacks and the cooling towers and thatís the tragedy in how we make power today. Even nuclear plants run under 40% efficiency.

                      Once put into large scale production steam engines would be considerably lower in cost and when using waste steam, they are not adding to the burning of fossil fuel but reducing it. As an interim measure they are a cheaper, safer and a more logical alternative to nuclear power.

                      In the long term many of these engines could be used in conjunction with smaller bio-fuel plants that are sustainable, so their manufacture is justified.

                      Again steam engines are not the whole solution but should be a significant part of it.


                      • #12

                        The double and triple expansion engines run quite fast on almost no pressure(like 6-8psi by the end). The issues really is getting something of quality. I don't know how much steam pressure those power plant turbines are exhausting but it would be feasable to build or buy an old fashioned reciprocating power plant engine to run down stream. I'm betting that one large old engine would be able to handle the exhaust of one of those turbines. It would depend on whether or not the plant is using reaction or impulse turbines as impulse is low pressure high velocity, and reaction is high pressure and velocity. Some plants already use compounding with their turbines but i'm betting that between the condensing side and the exhaust of the "low pressure" turbines there is still quite a bit of energy, and those old power plant engines need volume more than pressure.

                        Of course the elephant in the room is that this is just a band aid on poor designs. You're right that these plants are about as inefficient as one could build them. The idea of using nuclear radioactivity to heat water is always flabbergasts me. Are we that dense that the only thing we can think to do with the power in these substances is to irradiate water, and make steam??


                        • #13
                          The pressure in the live steam of a power station is well over 100bar, I think I remember 175 in coal plants and 140 in nuclear. The steam is throttled after the condenser to keep heat and pressure up as you don't want any risk of getting water in the turbine as it could cause damage. I don,t know what the pressure is after the turbine but I expect it would be many bar.

                          I'm not sure any single reciprocating engine could handle the output of steam from one of these turbines as the pipes are commonly 0.5 to 1m in diameter. You would be looking at the engines of a ship like the Titanic to handle that.

                          60% of the heat energy of one of these plants goes into the condensers so this is a vast amount of energy and I'm sure that the pressure would be more than adequate.

                          Take a typical 600Mw coal plant, 600Mw is 27% of the energy so the waste steam is 1.3 Gw. Titanic's engine developed about 44Mw, so at 30% efficiency (I don't know how efficient her engines were) it would need a supply of 150Mw as a supply. That would mean we would need 9 sets of titanic engines for a power station of this size. What a wonderful thought

                          For smaller plants of up to 300 Mw, it makes good sense and as these power stations are located away from towns and cities, noise would not be a problem either.

                          I'm Dreaming of polished copper and bronze, and the wonderful sound of a big steam engine


                          • #14
                            Well the engines im thinking of are 2 story bohemoths, the ones too big to scrap that are rotting away in forelorn corners of the world. 100bar would be far too much for those though. Always wanted to see on in operation but the largest ive ever seen is still operating is jay lenos civil war era one and its tiny in comparison. Ive only ever worked engines with cylinder diameters smaller than 2ft. What i wouldnt give to see a 10ton conrod move up and down and a 50ft flywheel spin silently!


                            • #15
                              Practicality of steam power

                              No brass but, nice shiny steel. 2100 hp triple expansion;
                              There is a distinct possibility that we will have a very quick collapse;
                              Should that happen, everyone will need to grab whatever energy converter/generator happens to be at hand. I have unlimited water and wood at my place. While everybody loves steam trains, the more that I read, the more I lean towards a gasifier. Just the same, I'll post some facts and figures relative to steam performance.

                              Interesting builds; Jerry's Web page for Stationary Steam Engines
                              Good reference; Alternative Energy eMagazine - | AltEnergyMag
                              Small turbines; Mizun Consultants & Engineers - Steam Turbine, Generator, Boiler, Power Plant, Thermal Power Project

                              I know where to look if I have to come back here for info.