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boiler safety

Posted by TH 
TH
boiler safety
June 24, 2009 07:44PM
I just had an awful thought. We have evaded the long arm of our benevolent government by being only hobby-size projects, but I know one of our goals is to get a real steam car to the market. I just pictured the face of a NHTSA bureaucrat faced with the description of a Lamont boiler, which will contain the energy of a decent-sized bomb when fired up. It was not a pleasant thought. The possibilities of the crash tests and safety requirements they could dream up made my blood run cold.

Have any of you experience with government rules about steam cars? In Texas all you have to do is tell them it's a steam car, and it's automatically exempt from the required testing. Of course, I find Texas has an unusual degree of sanity in it's government. Maybe that's because I'm comparing it to Michigan.

Tom
Re: boiler safety
June 24, 2009 08:10PM
Quote
TH
I just had an awful thought. We have evaded the long arm of our benevolent government by being only hobby-size projects, but I know one of our goals is to get a real steam car to the market. I just pictured the face of a NHTSA bureaucrat faced with the description of a Lamont boiler, which will contain the energy of a decent-sized bomb when fired up. It was not a pleasant thought. The possibilities of the crash tests and safety requirements they could dream up made my blood run cold.

Have any of you experience with government rules about steam cars? In Texas all you have to do is tell them it's a steam car, and it's automatically exempt from the required testing. Of course, I find Texas has an unusual degree of sanity in it's government. Maybe that's because I'm comparing it to Michigan.

I can't reply to the gov't rules about boilers--but I can relate a real-world "boiler disaster" and its result as one possible answer, depending upon the type of boiler.

When I built my RJ Smith based project, the supplied monocoil boiler was tested under hydro by myself (to something like 2.5K psi as I recall) and then brought up to steam pressure and temp without any problems. Target values were something like 800 psig and 600 deg. F.

Subsequently this coil was jacketed and mounted and piped-up; several successful runs with it were accomplished--after which I discovered I was an amateur steam power enthusiast with insufficient knowledge to maintain a monocoil flash steam boiler in good condition!--the hard way!

The problem was, I had "geared" the FW pump to a 'way low value in relation to the vehicle's speed; this meant that I had insufficient feedwater flow at low speeds--and the temp sensing devices installed (at the output end of the coil) weren't capable of detecting this condition.

Result: I slagged the superheater section, and the first failure was a pinhole in that area. Interestingly, the car ran better than ever before (others here can confirm similar situations) apparently because the exiting steam was enhancing the combustion circulation around the coil. After shutting everything down the evidence was "to the ear" in the form of a persistent hissing from the superheated steam escaping.

The point is, a monocoil boiler of this type isn't capable of the boiler"explosions" which the history of steam power has related (mostly from locos with firetube types of boilers). It's really nothing more than a minor leak in a steam line--even if it's within the confines of the "boiler". Trouble is, there's a lot of hybrids between the 2 extremes of boilers which can be more or less susceptible to catastrophic failure. Difficult to convince the simplistic minds of the gov't types?

My experience was chastening (and lightened my wallet excessively!) and I was much more careful about feedwater conditions relative to the vehicle's speed afterward.

I recommend that anybody "new" to steam power operation, and/or to a new steam power sysem in operation,--should approach the question of sufficient feedwater with a very conservative eye; it's easier to get too much wet steam than to burn your system up before you have the time to get accustomed to its eccentricities.

FWIW

Bill H.
Re: boiler safety
June 25, 2009 09:13AM
Tom,

You will need local advice on a State basis. There is a general rule regarding engine changes for existing vehicles can only be made using the family of engines approved by the EPA for each model. Without EPA certification you stand to be in a heap of trouble if something goes wrong.

We have a range of design rules that make new vehicle certification very costly but USA may be worse. Crash and roll over testing of steam systems with capacity boilers and naked flames could make some good YouTube video clips for entertainment if the tests fail - so all is not lost.

I can vouch for the safety of monotube boilers but have still seen dangerous situations from high pressure steam leaks on pipework or fittings between the boiler and engine. Remember all the Murphy Rules.

Graeme



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/25/2009 09:17AM by gvagg2.
Re: boiler safety
June 25, 2009 10:18AM
In the US

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers,

The ASME vision for mechanical engineering is to be the premier organization for promoting the art, science and practice throughout the world. They have over 600 difference codes.
This is not a government Dept or body of government.

The national board of pressures vessel & inspectors. Is a government dept that recognizes most of the codes of the ASME for pressure vessels. They issue the number stamped on a code boiler built to the ASME code and certified by the builders liability insurance companies
Not all the states recognize all the ASME pressure vessels codes in there laws.

The insurance companies are the ones that regulate most of the codes. At least any one holding liability insurance for building a code boiler and holding an S stamp.

The laws vary State to State. Lots of States the boiler laws only apply to (stationary) boilers. Moving boats, cars, tractors, are not covered (not exempt) the law just does not apply to them.
That is till there is a major accident. Although I don’t think much changed down south when that steam tractor blue up and killed the owner.

Some States like NY and RI All boilers fall under the law for inspection and non-code boilers and hobby boilers require 300% hydro testing, subject to the inspector and where his hand is held.
Unless it’s a boat and your on the intercostals waterways of the US, then it’s the cost guard that has the inspectional authority.
Re: boiler safety
June 25, 2009 02:29PM
Boiler safety has been a main focus in the most recent phase of my steam engine developement program. I started to work with a flash steam engine concept when I was 20 im now 37. At first, it was a major struggle to even get the engines to run. A side effect of the engine development led to 3 US utility patents. At this time 2 have been granted and the third is still in process, reduction to practice is a most difficult task. However the engine cycle itself is infact open-source. Approx two hundred fifty thousand dollars has been spent on development insofar. The first 3 phases of engine development used extremely high pressure injection pressures, in some cases up to 10,000psi. Learning about the engine cycle observing it run, led to a much greater understanding of what was being attempted. The final development stage has evolved both user friendly and safe running characteristics. The direct injection system does not handle supercritical water at this phase. Athough water injection pressures are to about 2000psi, the water is only at 250*f. There are no pressure vessels connected to the system, and the condenser is open to atmoshpere. We use a solid fuel corn burner external combustion chamber, because it can exist without EPA regulation, ALL other types of solid fuel burners cannot do this. I guesstimate our beta test stage(where we will actually hand-off working engine systems to 3rd parties) is about 2 to 4 years away. At this time we are working with 2 commercial insurance companys, to map-out the code requirements for this unique steam engine system.


Jeremy
Re: boiler safety
July 16, 2009 09:52PM
Does anyone know where I can get specific information on the legalities of a lamont style boiler for the state of California? Just a point in the right direction will help. I want to make sure that I don't break any laws both for my sake and to keep from somehow making it harder for the rest of the good folks here. If I need to get certifications I'll make sure I get them if I know about them. I plan on actually building a test boiler in the next couple of months so its much needed information. Thanks for any replies good or bad.
Re: boiler safety
July 17, 2009 03:46AM
Two minute in google
California boiler law

[www.dir.ca.gov]

1. California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Boiler and Fired Pressure ...
2.
§751. Boilers and Fired Pressure Vessels Not Subject to These Orders.


751. Boilers and Fired Pressure Vessels Not Subject to These Orders.

These orders are not applicable to the following:
(a) Boilers and fired pressure vessels under the jurisdiction or inspection of the United States Government.
(b) Boilers and fired pressure vessels used in household service.
(c) Automobile boilers and boilers used exclusively to operate highway vehicles.
Re: boiler safety
July 17, 2009 04:44AM
Rolly, much appreciation to you on the quick reply. I thought for sure I had googled this before but guess my mind was a bit slow tonight.
Section C pretty much set it straight under the boilers EXEMPT from inspection:
(c) Automobile boilers and boilers used exclusively to operate highway vehicles.


Thanks again!
Re: boiler safety
July 17, 2009 06:30AM
Thanks Steve and Rolly, reassuring news to me too. A couple of CA steam car guys had told me that they looked it up and found that car boilers were exempt, but I didn't know the legal "chapter and verse" until now. One slightly off-topic bit to add, I did personally seek out and read the California smog laws some years ago, and the vehicle smog test & smog equipment requirements explicitly apply only to vehicles with internal combustion engines.

Peter
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