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Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines

Posted by Caleb Ramsby 
Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 09, 2015 05:46PM

Curious way to achieve a high efficiency isn't it?

Caleb Ramsby
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 09, 2015 06:51PM

Is that a completely uninsulated, 3 cylinder single acting radial engine with rotary valve? wow.

Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 09, 2015 07:21PM
Did a little digging. Q2Power is a trademark of WHE Generation corp, formerly known as (wait for it) Cyclone Power! Tada!

Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 09, 2015 07:26PM
Did anyone else catch that this nonsense is that waste heat engine from Delusions-Are-Us?
Stupid rotary valve, uninsulated lines going to the cylinder heads creating a large clearance volume, radial three cylinder. My condolences, another stock selling front they founded to promote their fraud.
I feel sorry for the students being taught this is supposed to be cutting edge green technology. What a joke.

Just for their information, every sewer plant around here captures the fart gas, methane, and powers their big IC pump engines.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 02/10/2015 01:24PM by Jim Crank.
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 09, 2015 07:29PM
They probably did it on a DOE grant
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 09, 2015 08:01PM
Makes me feel sorry for Steam power in general. gives it a bad name.

Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 09, 2015 09:43PM
I liked them using a bearded old dude though. That alone gives them a lot more class.


Bill G.
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 09, 2015 10:49PM
does anyone know if the cyclone engine has ever been used in an automobile. if so, what was the result? I heard they were attempting a land speed record car but the only one I saw any news about was Chuk's.
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 10, 2015 09:16PM
Hey Doug,

There has never been any evidence that a vehicle of any sort has been driven by one of Cyclones engines.

If it had I can guarantee that they would have video of the event plastered all over the place.

What points even further in that direction is that their Waste Heat Engine or WHE runs at roughly 1/10 the pressure as the Mark V. The University of Ohio automotive research division has been tasked with making water lubrication work with the bearings for the WHE for the last 1 1/2 years and have had no success. Part of the analysis from the University of Ohio presents the issue that water has approximately 1/200 the viscosity of standard engine oil. This would indicate the requirement for extremely low bearing loads for even a chance of survival.

The Mark V is the powerplant that they have slotted to drive the world record boat and car. If the WHE's bearings can't survive at 1/10 the load of the Mark V then. . .

It also appears that they have finally abandoned the poppet valves for the Mark V because they can't survive under the strain and gone with a rotary valve. Rotary valves either leak or seize, with water lubrication I believe it would do both at once.

Rotary valves on a radial engine also radically increase the clearance volume. The 3% clearance volume they had with the poppet valve is out the window. What is it 2" bore by 2" stroke, for 3,600 rpm to keep the steam velocity down at 40,000 fpm or 666 fps would require a line area of .0942 sq in bore or .346" inner diameter, if the line were 7" long that would be .659 ci of added clearance volume, the cylinder volume being 6.283 ci would give a clearance volume of 10.5%. That is just for the steam line, not to mention the piston to head clearance space.

Roughly scaling the photos of the WHE that line looks to be at least 9" long, for the Mark V it would likely be longer then that and the above calculated clearance volume would be increased.

Caleb Ramsby
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 10, 2015 09:35PM
To tell you the truth, it makes no sense. There are guys in their garage converting two cycle engines, that know more about steam than these guys. Hard to understand why they insist on a design that was obsolete in Watt's time.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/10/2015 10:17PM by dullfig.
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 11, 2015 12:29AM
Correct, no Cyclone engine has ever powered any vehicle and never will.
Put it down to a pathetic lack of engineering knowledge about steam and what it takes to make a successful expander. Then couple that with a monumental ego and narcissistic belief that you have really invented a new system, ready to be mss produced from the initial sketch on a napkin. Unadulterated self delusion.

Yes this whole episode has indeed given light steam power, except for the hobbyest, a black eye it may never recover from in our lifetimes.
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 11, 2015 05:44PM
Lets do a full run down.

More then a decade ago Harry Schoell began ranting and raving about how he was going to employ Stumpfs principles in his design, anyone can go back and read it.

Although the principles put forth by Stumpf were known by the better steam engine designers of the time and earlier, they were typically not a major focus and he was the first to state them in list form and concentrate on them.

Lets go through them one at a time.

1: Losses due to cylinder condensation (surface losses)

This is about the initial condensation of the live steam. A high compression pressure will bring the head, piston and cylinder wall up to temp and limit the thermal losses. Cyclone attempted to do this with the 3% clearance volume and the variable clearance volume "exposed to the fire", the true effect of this on a small 2" bore by 2" stroke is questionable, but let is assume that it is effective

After reading loss number 6 maybe come back up here and read number 1 again.

2: Losses due to volume of the clearance space.

To over simplify things a bit, the longer the cutoff the lessened the effect of the clearance volume on the engines economy. Likewise the higher the pressure the greater the effect of a larger clearance volume, due to the cylinder packing issues. There is a limit to how high the compression can be carried, for the greatest economy it will equal the inlet pressure. From George Nutz's calculations on his indicator card the compression pressure of the Mark V would be 1,200 psi, with an inlet pressure of 3,200 psi that is a difference of 2.66 times. So the compression is incapable of making up for the clearance volume. With a inlet pressure of 1,200 psi of lower the full inlet pressure can be achieved with the compression and a greater efficiency will be achieved. So there is problem number one.

3: Losses due to throttling or wire drawing.

This is a relatively minor component when the engine is designed properly with adequate valve port proportioning. I can't speak to this in regards to Cyclone, I don't know their exact valve size.

4: Friction loss.

This is a big one right here.

For piston rings the coefficient of friction changes throughout the stroke. When coming off of dead center the coefficient of friction will be above 12% since the piston isn't moving fast enough for the rings to "float" on the oil. As it nears mid stroke the coefficient of friction will lower to 2% or less depending on specific piston ring type, piston speed, etc. For the Mark V the inlet is cutoff at 5% and virtually the entire admission period is done when the coefficient of friction of the piston rings is at it's highest, thus the frictional losses will be tremendous. Say two 1/8" wide piston rings, 6.28" in circumference that is 1.57 sq in of piston ring area. For 3,200 psi that is 5,024 lbs force, at 12% coefficient of friction that is 603 lbs force multiplied by 5% of the 2" stroke that is 5.025 ft lbs force over the same period the piston would make 83.7 ft lbs force, that is a 6% loss from the piston rings alone for the period of the admission cycle.

I would be stunned if using water as a lubricant didn't increase the coefficient of friction by 3 times over that of oil, if so that would be an 18% loss because of the very high pressure and short cutoff.

When the cutoff is longer, say 1/8 of the stroke then for the same MEP a lower initial pressure would be used and more of the admission cycle would be accomplished during the more hydrodynamic zone.

Then there is the sheer pressure to keep in mind too. There is a limit to the load that a lubricant can take without being broken through and then you have metal on metal contact. With main or connecting rod bearings these loads can be designed by changing their dimensions. There is no such luck with piston rings, stacking many of them, very small each can in theory "spread the load" but this is complex. The load at which the lubrication will be broken through is dependent on the viscosity of the lubricant. The viscosity drops with an increase in temperature, this is why the oil pumped into a steam engines cylinders is of a very heavy weight compared to the bearing oil for the same engine. As I mentioned before the viscosity of water is roughly 1/200 that of standard engine oil. The heavier weight cylinder oil at the higher temperature approximates that of regular engine oil when in use, so the water will be broken through with roughly 1/200 the load on the piston rings.

The static friction between aluminum and hard steel dry is 65%. With a slippery coating on the cylinder, a hard dense compound of some sort and high grade plastic compound piston rings they were attempting to reduce this coefficient of friction, if one were pumping pure molybdenum as a lubricant maybe.

The peak pressure is a great concern though. Think about diesels, they run with a peak combustion pressure of around 1,500 psi, depending on how hopped up they are. A high performance motorcycle, supercharged may make 2,000 psi, that is a sever service and requires perfect lubrication with top, top quality components. Then think about the top fuel drag cars, they run up to 4,500 psi peak pressure, they simply can't lubricate the cylinders to any great degree because of the tremendous load force on the piston rings, those cylinders, piston rings, pistons etc. are changed out very regularly. See the link bellow for indicator cards taken off of one.


5: Losses from Leakage.

Here we also have some issues. The rate of leakage is equal to the pressure differential and the tightness of the piston rings and valve. With 400 psi in a single cylinder one can achieve a very good efficiency and still have pressure left over after expansion. With the 3,200 psi Mark V the pressure is over 400 psi for 45% of the stroke. This is indicative of a significant rate of leakage. One of the primary benefits of compounds is that not only is the pressure differential reduced for each cylinder, but the leakage past the high pressure cylinders rings and valve is "caught" by the low pressure cylinder, if there are three cylinders then things are further separated and more leaks are caught.

So the leaks past the piston rings of a single stage VERY high pressure engine will be severe. To combat this one would need more or tighter piston rings, as was pointed out in the friction loss section that is already a big problem.

6: Losses due to heat radiation and convection.

Oh boy, it just keeps getting worse and worse.

They are using aluminum cylinders for the Mark V, I thought this was absurd back in 2004 and I still do now.

Aluminum at 400 F has a thermal conductivity of 144 btu hr deg F per ft. Steel with a carbon content of 1 1/2% at the same temp has a thermal conductivity of 20 btu hr deg F per ft. This is a difference of 7.2 times! Note that is pure aluminum and some alloys will have a lower thermal conductivity, some the same depends on the alloy, the lowest would be around 50 btu hr deg F per ft.

A BIG part of Stumps doctrine is to separate the hot and cold ends of the cylinder, as I have pointed out before, this is much more difficult to do with a short stroke engine. From George Nutz's indicator card it is showing that the exhaust ports open at 82% of the stroke and the cutoff is at 5% of the stroke. 5% of the 2" stroke is .1", 18% of the stroke is .36", combined that is .46" which subtracted from the 2" stroke gives 1.54" between where admission stops and exhaust begins.

For the pure aluminum cylinder this would give a conductivity of 1,122 btu sq ft deg F hr. With the 1,200 plus deg F inlet steam temp, from Nutz's indicator card that would equal roughly 400 F when the exhaust opens. So lets assume a temperature differential in the cylinder walls of 850 F and 450 F between the hot end and cold end.

Let us use 6061-t6 alloy: [www.matweb.com]

Its conductivity would be around 811 btu sq ft F hr for the 1.54" separation, this is likely conservative. At 700 F it's tensile strength is roughly 3,500 psi, say a VERY small safety factor of 1.5, that would be a psi limit of 2,333. Using the inner diameter of the cylinder of 2" that would be a force of 6,400 lbs trying to rip the cylinder apart. To counter that within the 2,333 psi limit would take 1.37" thick cylinder wall! I have doubts as to if the Mark V cylinders are that thick and could safely operate at full "design" pressure and temperature. What would help would be that the pressure would only be seen by the cylinder near the top of the stroke and if the cylinder were firmly embedded in a grove in the steel cylinder head this would take a lot of the cylinders force, similar in concept to the piano wire wrapping the Stanley boiler, not exactly the same by any stretch. Let us assume that the cylinder wall is somehow only .5" thick. This would be a 3" od, 2" id cylinder having a cross sectional wall area of 3.927 sq in. So with this figure we can now find the heat transfer between the hot and cold ends to maintain the 850 F to 450 F temp differential. It would be 811 btu sq ft F times .027 sq ft times 400 F differential, which gives 8,759 btu per hr, multiplied by six cylinders is 52,554 btu hr heat flow.

The indicated hp from Nutz's card is 191.92 at 3,600 rpm, that is no losses. This would be roughly 487,681 btu hr for the indicated horsepower produced. So the heat flow from the above very rough calculations would be 10.7% of the indicated horsepower or roughly 20.7 hp loss through the heat flow through the cylinder.

The above again are very rough calculations and I am forced to make assumptions as to various aspects of the materials in use. Also of note the entirety of the heat transferred from the hot end to the cold end would be lost, some would be put into the steam and some would be radiated to that feed water heater coil around the naked aluminum cylinder inside the condenser/crankcase.

The reality of such a design would more likely be that the cylinder temperature is much lower, closer to 550 F hot end and 400 F or less on the low end thus allowing a thinner cylinder wall. However the losses from the hot compressed steam and initial live steam admitted would be enormous regardless of how fast it spun.

I haven't been able to find a single aspect of Harry's design that is advantageous from a heat flow standpoint. The closest was that "clearance volume heating tube" deal where the tube extended from the cylinder into the furnace and supposedly heated the steam in the "clearance" volume when the engine was running at low compression with the variable clearance volume. I will cut my left foot off if a small thin walled tube with virtually zero steam flow through it survives exposure to an intense furnace.

7: Losses due to incomplete expansion.

From George Nutz's chart the cylinder pressure at release is roughly 175 psi. This is a loss a big loss. To put that into perspective many relatively high efficiency marine compound engines run at initial pressures of between 150 psi and 300 psi. Some Stanley drivers use pressure gauges at the steam chest to keep the pressure bellow 200 to 250 psi.

Caleb Ramsby
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 11, 2015 06:22PM
Very interesting analysis Caleb, very interesting indeed. Well done.
Of course we all believe Harry's Mk-5 dyno tests, PV diagrams and the pressures and temperatures he said he used.
Of course we we do. I believe in the Tooth Fairy too. Good God will people wise up!!!!
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 12, 2015 10:43AM
i would believe more if H would put his system into an actual vehicle and put 50 000 km on it. What would be the huge problem if he would get a small pickup truck from a junk yard and put his system and water tank into it?
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 12, 2015 03:51PM
It's a Detroit conspiracy ;-)
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 12, 2015 04:32PM
Yep, it's a Detroit conspiracy alright.....we decided to squash steamers by making engines that go 100,000 miles between sparkplug changes! grinning smiley
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 12, 2015 04:37PM
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 12, 2015 04:46PM
Looking at ad it looked like what is old is new for the new view on biomass,to the point that I wonder what he thought Walker family in East texas were doing with 4 or 5 100hp case traction engines running farms, saw mills,rural shops,even the logging(they don't have anything heavy enough to move 3000-6000 tons a day to the mill....industrial trains that were wood fire were used on track that were layed assembled as the log camps moved thru the area.) And we talking in the 1880's to about the depression or WWII.The log trains were still steaming all the way to the 1960's before Kenworth,Mack, and Pete
finally had something to replace the wood fired trains.(If you logging you might have a stick or two somewhere.)
So much of what was shown was some of the same on other items.
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 12, 2015 09:33PM

In theory the big problem would be half a kilometer down the road when the superheater tubes started to burn out. A heat flow analysis easily shows that the control must be perfect for any high intensity, small scale monotube operating at supercritical pressures or boiler tube failure will occur with great rapidity and regularity. If someone thinks that water will work fine as a lubricant, then what do you think the chances are that such a mind is capable of developing a control system for such a boiler?

Hey Arnold,

Don't forget those geared Shays trundling through the forest. Pass the biomass please, need another plate full, don't mind the sparks. . . they're healthy, give ya' life.

Caleb Ramsby
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 15, 2015 11:45AM
AH YES, the control system in the Mk-5. Pray tell how you can make this work, OK?
1) Six expander cylinders. 2) Each having its own individual water feed pump cylinder. 3) Six separate steam generator coil sets, each feeding just one cylinder in the expander. 4) ONE and I repeat ONE thermocouple in just one of the expander's six cylinder heads to control the superheat. 5) No instant change in water feed rate and no normalizers.
Might one ask what happens when one of the other water pump cylinders has a problem, like a sticking check valve? Hmmmm???
Half a kilometer? Hell, getting out the shop door would take a miracle. Talk about Delusions-R-Us!!!
That's the problem Doug, you need something that actually works to begin with. Never going to happen.
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 15, 2015 03:50PM
Come on Jim, give credit where due - they make smart prototypes and classy web sites!

It is a disappointment that none of their technology seems provable. It started out with high hopes for all of us as we thought that at last something new and interesting was happening. Sadly we were wrong.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/15/2015 04:25PM by Mike Clark.
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 15, 2015 05:07PM
Hi Mike,
Sure the early photos of what were said to be running prototypes turned out to be Tupperware fakes.
I guess a fancy web site does fool most of the people most of the time. They are good at that.
That staggering, leaking WHE is the latest joke.
What could have been, eh?
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 16, 2015 09:05AM
After reading all the Cyclone information both here and in the patents on the Cyclone web site I thiught we were at the start of a new steam age. I did notice that there was no mention of a control system, though. I also wanted to see some test data on the water lubrication. Thanks for the update on what happened.

Lohring Miller
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 18, 2015 09:23AM
At risk of playing the devil's advocate ,Let suppose that you where designing a Mercedes 240D using either a stanley or a
Reliable steam engine(turbine guy is always looking at turbo-ing in compound fashion off a simple for at least the same horsepower as the piston. And low end torque speed seems to balance with turbine coming into it own at the high end speeds). That did for real, what Cyclone claimed on replacing that 40hp. diesel in the Mercedes.And you wanted it to not only run on the roads in daily use ,but hold its own, in Weekend at Sport car of America Club racing, enough that fellow mechanics might look at it from time to time.(I have to admit I have failed repeatedly,at that dream, for the last 15 years of doing just that,and that most of what I do is turbines as in waste heat recovery.) But think it is pretty close to the burn I am hearing with you guys.
What would you do if the ball was in your court..and you have racing sponsor(sort of unheard of, starting out in club racing...if you are doing good enough to make Pro maybe).But for the sake of argument you had the funding he seems to have to do what he says.
What would you do if the ball was in your court....with that Mercedes.
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 18, 2015 09:46AM
I forgot one other detail at the club races, automatic transmission are not allowed at much of any Sport car club of America races.So in my mercedes uses the OEM 4 speed manual.
With my luck noone in the world has heard of Mercedes,or is able to out Mercedes ...Mercedes in the example.I gave.
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 18, 2015 10:03AM
Another engine came to mind on the club racing stuff...someone gets Harry's cyclone engine and fixes it well enough to
run against the mega dollar Mercedes at Indy or one of the other Sports Car of America events.So he would know what the Club thinks is the right way to do a Cyclone.Instead of just talking about it .
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 18, 2015 10:47AM
Anyone know of or used turbine oil in piston steam, to know if you could have any better luck with critical or ? pressure piston steam with coking of tubes etc.
Many of the model gas turbines out there don't use pressure lube so you mixing oil in like the Victorian piston guys as well. Still reworking both 7.5hp (for turbo compounding simple 34DL) and 25hp (turbocompounding simple 10hp steamboat engine),for navy modelK I spied in 32ft hull ,garrett 40hp turbine is pressure lubed as is the JFS 100hp for the navy model M.though you ended up dropping the stephenson link(fix at 55) andused a zero turn transmission to get reverse move up the shaft speed a bit for roughly triple the horses of (oem?) of the engine.
Now if steamboats could get around to the Lamont at places like Beckman and Reliable...might have some on the line of what harry was claiming with Cylcone.Still have my share of bugs on the system...but getting there.I would be happy if I could get to the point of being able to flip boat like Beckman and others have done over the years. (Many of there ads are
almost 5times what you see for the same boat in the club circles)
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 18, 2015 11:26AM
On the European side I have seen the same with Preston steam products in Canterbury,England as with Bechman on the price for the stuff....The brits are asking 2 and 3 times what the club asks for a Stanley.
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 18, 2015 12:15PM
Another devil's advocate question would be, what it is worth to hobby steam through out the world, if someone was to pay someone like George Nuts to design a genetic Lamont system that offered both ready made and plans like you see with Bechman and/or Reliable(not sure about ready made) that offers 5hp,10hp,20hp,50hp and 200hp boiler in 200psi/600psi/maybe higher.(And provision for gas,liquid,and solid fired depending on hobby use)
Just asking if there would be enough business to justify a business doing that.And to some extent, how much you would need to pay Nuts to pull that off.(was thinking about Jim's remarks about paying to design individual boilers and thinking about business opportunity implied and the kind venture capital required.)
Re: Insulating steam engine cylinders and steam lines
February 18, 2015 02:04PM
Hey Arnold,

Let us get real for a moment.

Task some engineers to design steam powerplants for a forklift, boat and car.

The forklift, that has a standard space and horsepower requirement. For the standard warehouse sized forklifts it is easy to determine what one would need.

For the boat, well what size boat, what performance level?

For the car, ditto.

No one in their right mind would assume that a singular design would fit all three uses perfectly.

Any "steam car" design that doesn't start with a blank sheet of paper for both the powerplant and vehicle is doomed to some massive engineering compromises.

Take the VW Beetle and the Jaquar XKE from the 60's. Two very different cars, both designed from the ground up to do exactly what they were designed to do. All of the components were chosen with great specificity in mind.

Choosing an existing car more or less at random and cramming a steam powerplant into it, compromising all along the way, is in my opinion doomed to failure. The resultant vehicle will always be inferior to a ground up design.

Cyclone has had roughly $40,000,000.00 to $60,000,000.00 invested in it over the last decade. Just 1/100 of that would be roughly $500,000.00, more then enough to hire component engineers to design a car around their powerplant. Don't forget that they have that boat made for the Mark V, uh, where is the video of that shooting across the water.

You say "someone gets Harry's cyclone engine" how does that happen? For the past decade that is exactly what the companies contracted with Cyclone have been attempting to do, none of them have gotten the powerplant.

The greatest issue here is the fallacy that a few minor changes or fixes will bring the Cyclone up to snuff.

From my perspective the one and only one principle employed by them that holds any merit is that a unaflow engine gives greater economy then a counterflow. That has been well proven by Stumpf and others.

Everything else is garbage and idiocy. One powerplant to fit perfectly into a thousand applications. . .no that isn't how the world works. Supercritical magically being more economical then subcritical, no, that is idiocy. 90% of the condensation occurring at the exhaust port as Harry has claimed in the past, that is beyond idiocy, that is thermally impossible and only someone with a supreme ignorance of thermodynamics would make such a claim. The only way to get any where near that much condensation at the exhaust port is for the heat transfer within the cylinder to be so bad that the water rate would be near the triple digits. Then there is the vertical shaft, everything running with a vertical shaft, yeah that makes a lot of sense doesn't it? Using the same fan for radiator/condenser/furnace duty, that is possibly the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. Having the cylinder inside the condenser, also idiotic, horrible heat transfer in there, also surrounding the naked cylinders with the cold feed water tubing, idiotic, hasn't anyone ever heard of radiation?

Well, as long as they can keep posting 10 to 20 second clips of engines running they will keep selling stock. That is the only thing I have seen Cyclone do well, sell stock and temporarily fool people that should know better.

Caleb Ramsby
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