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Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs

Posted by kyleborg 
Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
August 18, 2020 01:33PM
This is a PDF file so if you're unable to read it online you can download it.

Steam Proposal 2020

This is the full version of what I sent to auto manufacturers.
They asked for "ideas" and gave me 1 or 2 paragraphs to explain myself so they didn't see all of this.
But I thought I would share it with the group.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/19/2020 12:36PM by kyleborg.
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
August 19, 2020 06:39PM
There were many proposals by individuals and small companies to mass produce steam powered passenger vehicles. They all did fail short of their goals.
Private business is interested in new product if there are proven market demand, working certified prototype, proven sales and fast return on investment. Without this no one will give away possibly many millions of dollars on experimental idea. It took 17 years for Tesla to prove that electric vehicles can be comparable to gasoline cars and can be sold by hundreds of thousands year. Now everyone wants to replicate that success.

Failed attempt to introduce steam taxi cabs in Los Angeles:

Failed attempt to use steam buses for public transportation in California:


Should we have a new engine? An automobile power systems evaluation. Volume 2: Technical reports

Compendium of Critiques of JPL Report SP-43-17: Automotive Technology Status and Projections Project
Almost 50 critiques of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory report SP-43-17 are presented together with the JPL responses.


Supercritical steam storage road vehicle will have problems with safety certification and car insurance. Also modern compact cars have very limited space for a larger powerplant such as steam engine with steam generator and condenser-radiator. Trucks and tractors are better suited for this purpose.
Also, using photoelectric solar cells for steam generation is very inefficient, because, on average, they convert to electricity only 15% of solar energy. Much better option is to generate steam in a coil located in a focus of a dish or trough mirror. In this case up to 75% of solar energy will be absorbed by steam.


Design and development of an automotive organic Rankine-cycle powerplant with a reciprocating expander. Final report. Volume II. Detailed discussion


Ideal application for the supercritical water thermal energy is fireless locomotive. Its range and power could be increased 3-4 times.


Another good application for the steam accumulator drive is a ferry boat. It can be recharged from a port's steam boiler room.


Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 08/19/2020 07:17PM by novice.
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
August 20, 2020 07:28AM
This ran in the Phorum some years ago, I think most of the current participants weren't around at that point. The idea was to build a stationary steam powerplant for use in places like Africa...the people behind the idea contacted SACA and a few of us came up with proposals, I believe mine was the most comprehensive, probably due to my experience in powertrain development. Actually, the idea was to burn sewage because there wasn't a good infrastructure in some areas and waste was contaminating local water supplies. Producing and selling energy was an economic motivation to get local "buy-in" and to make the process economically self-sustaining. The fluidized bed combustor was already stipulated before I was introduced to the project, so that was a fixed point of reference.

Janicki did build a powerplant that appears to use many of my features, so the system definitely works. They even produced potable drinking water from the system, proving that my knowledge of flash distillation ain't too bad. Honestly, I wouldn't have gone with steam at all, there are off-the-shelf systems that are highly proven and likely produce more power for the same BTU input --- but then there wouldn't have been a product to sell.
open | download - Janicki proposal 16 May (a).pdf (574 KB)
open | download - Janicki proposal 16 May (b).pdf (874.2 KB)
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
August 20, 2020 06:25PM
novice Wrote:
> There were many proposals by individuals and small
> companies to mass produce steam powered passenger
> vehicles.

That's a lot of cool stuff to read, it will keep me busy a while! Thanks for sharing.

Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
August 20, 2020 06:29PM
frustrated Wrote:
> This ran in the Phorum some years ago, I think
> most of the current participants weren't around at
> that point. The idea was to build a stationary
> steam powerplant for use in places like
> Africa

Janicky is a familiar name. I'll look the PDF's over next time I'm sitting still.
Africa and other places need power. I'm sure someone will figure it out some day. But if they want to make a profit doing it, it won't happen. My angle on it was that it would be a giveaway, paid for by the rest of the "steam economy".


Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
August 24, 2020 11:00AM

A Compact Pollution-Free External Combustion Engine with High Part-Load Efficiency. Another example of supercritical steam automotive powerplant.
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
August 25, 2020 08:29AM
The thing to consider is: "How come these prototypes haven't been built?" I don't have a PhD like the author, but I do work in powertrain development and possess a BS in Business Administration with a heavy emphasis in Economics and Accounting --- so, let's consider that to be more-or-less "the flip side".

You have to step back from the theoretical and look at the proposal from the viewpoint of a manufacturer. The first real bug-a-boo in this proposal is the lubrication --- a new type of lubricant is needed and the author is only able to make generalized comments as to what might work. When an engine requires an entirely new class of lubricants, there's going to be a lot of pushback in the form of "Who's going to manufacture, distribute, sell and dispose of this stuff?" Hey, it's a lot time and resources just to get a working solution, then a lot of testing to ensure that you don't get sued into bankruptcy for burning out customer engines, then followed by a big investment to manufacture, advertise and distribute. It's like the whole bit we heard a few years back about needing a steam car because it could burn renewable algae oil. Proponents argued that producers would rush in to sell cheap, renewable algae oil in order to fuel all these upcoming steam cars. The problem was, who would pay a large premium on a car, with an unproven style of engine, when there was no cheap fuel yet available to create an incentive? It's the chicken and egg problem. Same thing with new, special classes of lubricant. It's easy to wave your hand and say that such and such a thing is needed --- it's entirely a different thing to write up an ironclad business plan, procure investment and shepard the thing into a profitable and sustainable product.

We basically run into the same problem with fuel. The paper argues that this is a slam-dunk because you don't have to worry about octane or cetane values. That all sounds good from a theoretical standpoint, but let's get real. On the first day you start selling cars, there is going to be ZERO number of gallons of lower grade fuel available at service stations. Refineries are complex, and incredibly expensive, beasts --- no one is going to retool one for a demand that doesn't exist. Arguably, you could tap off lesser processed fuel, but there's going to be pushback. First of all, refineries tend to be constant flow processes --- withdrawing significant amounts somewhere in the middle of the process may throw off the following stages. Now that you have this extraction, it is going to require separate handling, testing, shipping and so on. Since we're not talking about anything like the same quantities of regular fuel, the methods are likely to be far less streamlined and economical. Having overcome these hurdles, who is going to sell it? With the exception of a small number of stations under construction, you are basically restricted to existing distribution networks and facilities. This means digging up the grounds for a new tank and, most likely, converting some existing pumps for the new fuel. This is precisely why it's so hard to find a Ford dealership selling the new GT --- Ford requires a special clean room service bay that costs something like a million dollars. In other words, you need to scrape up 7 figures to service the cars and, in return, you have to remove an existing bay that is already quite profitable from servicing far more paying customers than you will see GT owners. Ever notice how relatively few stations sell E-85?

Now let's look at manufacturing the car. You have inherent problems at every stage. Does anyone really think, in the year 2020, that there's a glut of engineers and technicians competent in steam powertrain development? It's probably a lead pipe cinch that a very, very costly extra couple of years development time are going to be needed just to build, test and certify your first pre-production engine. This is a highly competitive industry and it's hard to justify spending that kind of money and, more importantly, rededicating that many existing resources. Heck, I want to see just how you are going to get this thing certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The test cycles are pretty well defined and I envision all kinds of hurdles getting them to clear your tests until they certify the validity of the testing methods themselves. We all know how fast the government is, so sit back and wait. Suppose that, for one year, all that money you invested getting to this point is out of circulation and not generating any returns --- which you desperately need for operations, advertising, plant refurbishment and retooling for new models.

Next off, let's look at the basic engine plan provided (http://www.newsteamengine.com/section11.htm). This thing is a double-acting engine with crossheads and piston rods. It's quite traditional, gives you a lot of very smooth torque delivery, minimizes contaminants in the crankcase --- and utterly won't fit in the engine bay of the average automobile. Let's face it, from crankcase to cylinder head, it's just awfully long. We're going to need to develop a whole new platform for it to sit in, which is going to raise costs enormously, figure about 1 billion dollars to fit out a new plant to make an entirely new platform. That's over and above the billion we are going to need for the new engine plant. These aren't wild numbers out of thin air, that's the kind of money real auto companies spend in order to mass-produce in the kind of quantities needed to bring unit cost down to the point the average consumer can afford.

Even after building a new platform for this engine, we have some issues. That big engine is going to cause a return to the big engine compartment of the days when I was young. This isn't all bad, I used to slide down inside the engine bay of my Fairmont to work on the 4 cylinder engine --- that bay was big enough for inline 6s and V-8s, also. The problem is threefold. First, the bigger bay takes more metal and is, therefore, a bit more expensive. Secondly, and more critically, we can't fit a sloping hood as readily --- this is going to adversely affect aerodynamic efficiency and therefore hurt our CAFE score (government mandated fleet fuel economy). This can be a make-or-break sort of thing. Many years ago the Ford Escort was the best selling car in the US because it got good fuel economy .... boosting Ford's CAFE numbers. In fact, Ford sold the Escort AT A LOSS! The reasoning was simple, every improvement of the score let them sell more highly-profitable Lincolns which guzzled gas. Therefore, they could lose on the Escort because the Lincolns more than made it up. This should be a hint how CAFE can affect your business model.

Of course, we haven't considered the effect of adding a boiler. Not just any boiler, but a big one with multiple stage reheat. This sucker just got bigger yet. Of course, bigger means heavier. Heavier means we need to beef up suspension, steering, crash protection, brakes and so on. In point of fact, it turns out that the weight gained in order to compensate for added weight often exceeds the initial weight gain. The vehicle being heavier, is going to perform more poorly, unless we increase engine output. That, of course, probably adds even more weight.

Now let's consider engine manufacturing costs. An internal combustion engine uses a large number of identical internal parts such as rods, wrist pins, bearings, pistons, rings, valves and so on. Of course, economies of scale kick in as your production numbers rise. A quadruple expansion engine has four different types of piston, rings and rings (very likely others such as bearings and other parts such as crossheads and piston rods.) We are going to need to invest in tooling and labor to build more types of parts, at lower production numbers, this engine is getting more expensive by the moment.

Let's also look at all the high-pressure plumbing needed, this is going to get pricy next to rubber hoses and thin wall tubing.

Compounding our problems is that we can't find anyone producing modern, high performance steam engines. We're going to have to figure out how to economically manufacture a lot of this stuff on the fly. For example, once we figure out how to bore an accurate cylinder, we repeat the process on all the remaining identical cylinders in our gasoline or diesel engine. Is this going to remain true for an engine with different bores and construction?

Let's also consider the real-world effects of steam engineering. Take compounding, as found in this engine, (see the indicator card, below) Note the gap between the high and low pressure stages, plus the fact that the lower pressure stage is beneath the expansion projection line from the high pressure stage. That all indicates lost work. For a quadruple expansion engine, we get to toss in two more similar losses. This is not analogous to compounding in turbine stages because the pressure drop in turbines occurs in efficient nozzles that cause an increase in steam velocity --- which the downstream stage efficiently converts to mechanical power. In the piston engine, the pressure drop is a loss, in the turbine it's part of the operating cycle.

We also face a significant loss at the boiler --- something like 15 to 20% of the heat energy is going out the stack without contributing to steam production whatsoever. This is a loss on top of the engine mechanical efficiency or the Rankine cycle efficiency.

I could go on ... and on...and on .... but coffee break is over. The problem with every single steam car proposal I've seen is that they emphasize a lot of putative advantages but then ignore or gloss over the greater number of challenges. Engineers, production managers and accountants fixate on stuff like this. Viewed in the light of day, it's easy to see why steam cars get written off so easily, the proposals simply don't portray the matter in a realistic manner.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/25/2020 09:02AM by frustrated.

Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
August 25, 2020 12:42PM
I was looking at it from the weight and ASME code point of view. The weight would be enormous if the pressure vessel had to comply with the current laws and insurance Co. in most states. States like New York and Rhode Island, the pressure vessel and boiler laws cover every thing anywhere, unlike states like Massachusetts where the law only applies to only stationary pressure vessels. It just does not apply to Boats, Crane’s and Road machinery. I do not know how the railroad was governed or all the other states.
In most case’s it the insurance Co that provides the liability insurance to the PE boiler and pressure vessel shop that holes an S stamp from the national Board that would build the pressure vessel.
I know I had to deal with Hartford boiler insurance to have my design of two code stamped boilers built. It took the better part of a year.

Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
August 25, 2020 05:40PM
Steam automotive powerplants were not promising innovation in 1945.
Report "A PROGRESS REPORT ON THE AGRICULTURAL TESTS WITH THE BESLER AEROSOL by H. E. Morrison and W . Rasmussen" describes testing results of a steam generator from the Besler steam car and steam aircraft that was converted into an agricultural insecticide aerosol generator:


Besler mechanical fog generator:


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/25/2020 05:44PM by novice.
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
August 26, 2020 07:07AM
Besler work had nothing to do with the stored energy concept.
He took a 100 year old concept of forced re circulation and added modern electric controls and added low pressure exhaust turbines to a compound engine for a very high efficiency, power to weight ratio for that time period.
He was trying to sell the Navy, Steam powered Landing Craft at that time.
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
August 26, 2020 09:11AM
Search in Google Patents shows that many "new" ideas had been invented at least once many decades ago.

Heat storage system utilized in heat engine drive system:

"A `heat battery` or heat storage device based on the phenomena that at a particular temperature and pressure water becomes supercritical and can absorb increasing quantities of heat without a corresponding increase in either temperature or pressure. The device may operate a heat engine such as the Stirling engine or a steam turbine engine in an automobile. The battery includes a pressure vessel for maintaining a charge of water in the vessel at approximately 374 degrees Centigrade and 221 bars of pressure. A heat exchanger coil is positioned in the vessel from which useful heat is extracted and applied to end use such as a heat engine. An electric heater for inputting heat into the charge of water is positioned in the vessel and external connections from the vessel allow for changing the charge of supercritical water and for substituting high supercritical heat containing water for a charge that has been substantially depleted of supercritical heat."


In 1970s there were also projects of the automobiles that were using molten salts, metal alloys, ceramic or graphite thermal energy storage to run Stirling engine or closed cycle argon or helium gas turbine.



"Thermal energy storage for the Stirling engine powered automobile
A thermal energy storage (TES) system developed for use with the Stirling engine as an automotive power system has gravimetric and volumetric storage densities which are competitive with electric battery storage systems, meets all operational requirements for a practical vehicle, and can be packaged in compact sized automobiles with minimum impact on passenger and freight volume. The TES/Stirling system is the only storage approach for direct use of combustion heat from fuel sources not suitable for direct transport and use on the vehicle. The particular concept described is also useful for a dual mode TES/liquid fuel system in which the TES (recharged from an external energy source) is used for short duration trips (approximately 10 miles or less) and liquid fuel carried on board the vehicle used for long duration trips. The dual mode approach offers the potential of 50 percent savings in the consumption of premium liquid fuels for automotive propulsion in the United States."

Non-polluting, open brayton cycle automotive power unit.
Energy storage is based on thermally insulated graphite block heated to a very high temperatures up to 5500F. Inert gas flows throw the channels of this block and indirectly heats up the turboshaft engine connected to the electric generator. Because turbine is working with atmospheric air there is no need for the cooling radiator, except for the oil. Energy density is very high up to 1/10 of the gasoline fuel per weight.



"Automotive Stirling Engine Development Project
The development and verification of automotive Stirling engine (ASE) component and system technology is described as it evolved through two experimental engine designs: the Mod 1 and the Mod 2. Engine operation and performance and endurance test results for the Mod 1 are summarized. Mod 2 engine and component development progress is traced from the original design through hardware development, laboratory test, and vehicle installation. More than 21,000 hr of testing were accomplished, including 4800 hr with vehicles that were driven more dm 59,000 miles. Mod 2 engine dynamometer tests demonstrated that the engine system configuration had accomplished its performance goals for power (60 kW) and efficiency (38.5%) to within a few percent. Tests with the Mod 2 engine installed in a delivery van demonstrated combined metro-highway fuel economy improvements consistent with engine performance goals and the potential for low emission levels. A modified version of the Mod 2 has been identified as a manufacturable design for an ASE. As part of the ASE project, the Industry Test and Evaluation Program (ITEP), NASA Technology Utilization (TU) project, and the industry-funded Stirling Natural Gas Engine program were undertaken to transfer ASE technology to end users. The results of these technology transfer efforts are also summarized."

Automotive Stirling engine, unlike the supercritical steam engine system, was manufactured and extensively tested in a real world driving. Its efficiency was close to a diesel engine with the ability to use any form of fuel or thermal energy.
This project was closed, despite its design had many components of the mass produced diesel engines.

[youtu.be]. Stirling engine. A wave of the future.
This technology was very promising in 1980s, but as of 2020 there are zero number of cars with the Stirling engines.

Automotive Stirling engine: Mod 2 design report
The design of an automotive Stirling engine that achieves the superior fuel economy potential of the Stirling cycle is described. As the culmination of a 9-yr development program, this engine, designated the Mod 2, also nullifies arguments that Stirling engines are heavy, expensive, unreliable, demonstrating poor performance. Installed in a General Motors Chevrolet Celebrity car, this engine has a predicted combined fuel economy on unleaded gasoline of 17.5 km/l (41 mpg)- a value 50% above the current vehicle fleet average. The Mod 2 Stirling engine is a four-cylinder V-drive design with a single crankshaft. The engine is also equipped with all the controls and auxiliaries necessary for automotive operation.


Phase 1 results from the Stirling-powered vehicle project


Automotive Stirling engine development program
Activities performed on Mod I engine testing and test results, progress in manufacturing, assembling and testing of a Mod I engine in the United States, P40 Stirling engine dynamometer and multifuels testing, analog/digital controls system testing, Stirling reference engine manufacturing and reduced size studies, components and subsystems, and computer code development are summarized.


Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 08/26/2020 03:49PM by novice.
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
August 27, 2020 08:00AM
There's a few common sense things we can establish as ground rules.

1. Minimize the number of times energy is transferred. Every transfer results in a loss and, when multiple transfers are performed, the losses are multiplied rather than added.

2. Heat engines are inherently rather inefficient --- this is something we all know, from the cycle of Carnot.

3. Rankine Cycle heat engines are particularly inefficient due to the latent heat of vaporization.

4. Limitations to heat transfer as temperatures approach equalization means that boilers will produce moderate inefficiencies.

5. Weight is our enemy, in automotive design.

6. Volume is weight's evil ally.

I could add others such as "Clearance volume sucks". and "Direct drive is inefficient when applied to automobiles with heat engines." Feel free to add your own.
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 01, 2020 11:53AM
Hi Ken,
Please explain how #3, the latent heat of vaporization, plays into inefficiency? This is as applied to the Rankine Cycle.

You talk about the Carnot Efficiency ... equation: efficiency = Work / Heat Energy (typically we use the burner output)

Kind regards,
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 02, 2020 01:42PM
The latent heat of vaporization has to do with the difference between reversible and irreversible processes. We can compress steam and heat it, or expand steam and cool it --- this is a reversible process. We can't do the same thing with condensation, once you reject the heat to condense the steam, that heat is gone...to the tune of 947 BTU per pound with steam. You can extract work from reversible processes, but not from irreversible processes. Basic cycles in which the latent heat of vaporization play a part are going to take an efficiency hit. Now, if you can manage to work out a binary cycle that vaporizes a second working fluid while condensing the first, you can do a bit better --- but that's now an entirely different cycle and you will still have a loss regarding the latent heat of vaporization in that cycle, it will be smaller, however.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/02/2020 01:44PM by frustrated.
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 03, 2020 12:08PM
I really like the PV indicator diagram you attached earlier in this thread. Pretty sure it's a high rev compound. Thank you for the explanation above...good job!

Steam Power Cycle, Condensing

Note that you incorporated a feed water heater in the diagram. Pretty sure this is to capture latent heat.

What goes up must come down with regards to heat of vaporization or latent heat. Most people to don't realize to take advantage of the heat given off during the water condensing. I highly recommend a feed water heater in a basic steam engine design like you show.

The beauty of Kyle's proposal is simplicity and avoids all the tricks to achieve a relatively high efficiency. In my Steam Scooter, I incorporate a feed water heater, economizer and super heater. All these really enable my scooter to go. Without these items, my scooter wouldn't perform very well. I think we all know Tony's Steam Bike

Tony's Steam Bike

I talk often with my good friend, Tony, and asked him what was the best improvement he made on his Bike? It was the feed water heater.

The feed water heater takes advantage of the latent heat on the vapor to water side.

Other techniques to increase efficiency is to go super critical (SC) steam. This is one of the major plus with Kyle's concept. All SC Steam power plants' efficiency exceed the best value of a Diesel.

Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 03, 2020 09:24PM
Hi Rick,

The problem is that you are taking a component valuable in one tiny niche of steam technology and trying to apply it across the entire field. Note that the title of this thread is "Full Steam Proposal for Manufacturers". This pretty much stipulates that we need a steam system that can somehow be competitive in the modern market; unfortunately, feed heaters are most valuable on fairly basic steam systems found over 100 years ago. You can look at a number of the more advanced steam car proposals of the 1920s and not find a feed heater --- this isn't because the Doble Brothers, Charles French, Allen Staley, Lewis Scott, Edward Newcomb and others were uneducated.

There's a number of factors conspiring against feed heaters. First of all, there's the cycle itself. A primitive car like an early Stanley or its contemporaries is an open cycle machine, the water is vaporized and exhausted to atmosphere. The feed water is at ambient temperature and a feed water heater can save you quite a bit of energy simply because of the large temperature differential between the feed and exhaust.

This opencycle is utterly unacceptable for a modern vehicle, no one is going to want to refill the water tank every few miles --- this means we need a condenser. At this point, we toss another monkey wrench at the feed heater. If we had a steam boat, we could use water cooling and condense the steam down to something approaching the cooling water temperature. Air cooling isn't that simple, you just can't get air to carry that kind of heat away. In practical terms, you are looking at condensing at something on the order of atmospheric pressure. Just for the fun of it, let's assume we are condensing at ambient pressure and getting the condensate to drop out a 212 degrees F. One of the basic rules of efficient steam plant operation is that we minimize condensate depression --- that's the difference in water temperature leaving the condenser and the temperature at which the steam is being condensed. On the aircraft carrier, we would often see 29 inches of mercury in the condenser and the water leaving the condenser was pretty cool. In that case, a feed heater won't work because the steam coming out of the engine is so cool. On the other hand, we could use a much better boiler than a Stanley or Ofeldt --- something like a Jay Carter, SES, Scott-Newcomb, Coats or what have you that possesses a decent economizer. That cool condensate can then cool off the boiler exhaust stack gasses to a much lower temperature and raise feed temperature greatly. On our steam car, we still can't justify the feed heater because there's no reason to cool the condensate below something like 200 F, since going cooler would just be throwing heat away. This means your feed is already close to the temperature you hope to get out of a feed heater.

Someone is likely to argue that we can wedge the feedwater heater between the engine and the condenser, but that ignores the fact that we aren't going to be running relatively basic engines with harmonic valve gear and slide valves. The Stanley style engine is simply horribly wasteful. Elihu Thomson and other engineers at General Electric were building poppet valve uniflow engines circa 1900 to 1905 and getting much better economy than the traditional style engines (even though one unit with hydraulic poppet valves was two cylinder, double acting and mounted on the rear axle). They were still more wasteful than later engines. Anyhow, any acceptable modern engine is going to have much shorter cutoff and tighter clearance volume, meaning the exhaust steam leaving the engine is already going to be fairly cool --- we will try to expand down near ambient pressure and maintain just a few degrees of superheat. There's not a lot of heat to be harvested here. So, here's where we're at ... boiler exhaust gasses dropping downwards toward maybe 250 degrees F, steam leaving the engine at maybe 225 and condensate cum feed water leaving the condenser at 200. Now, since heat transfer is a function of differential temperature, we aren't seeing a significant gain unless we make the heat exchanger quite large --- and even then the total heat gain won't be all that important.

Anyhow, the original premise stands, we can't extract work from the latent heat of vaporization. Really modern steam plants are going to slash the amount of heat we can recover simply because they aren't wasteful like cars of 1900. This shouldn't be a surprise, check out the last Bulletin and read Tim Nye's analysis of waste heat recovery steam engines --- the modern gasoline engine rejects fairly low quality heat which is also not amenable to harvesting.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 09/03/2020 09:40PM by frustrated.
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 04, 2020 01:13PM
Steam automotive engine has almost no chances to be implemented unless there is compact unlimited source of thermal energy, such as cold fusion.

There are a lot of places in tropical and subtropical regions where there is a demand for sustainable air conditioning.
Solar powered Rankine cycle air conditioner may be a solution to this problem.

A review of solar thermo-mechanical refrigeration and cooling methods:

Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 04, 2020 05:29PM
There's a number of factors conspiring against feed heaters. First of all, there's the cycle itself. A primitive car like an early Stanley or its contemporaries is an open cycle machine, the water is vaporized and exhausted to atmosphere. The feed water is at ambient temperature and a feed water heater can save you quite a bit of energy simply because of the large temperature differential between the feed and exhaust.

Some of the feed water heaters and economizers I’ve built. I call a feed water heater as being outside the boiler and economizer as being inside the boiler housing. The former being heated by the exhaust steam the other by the exhaust gases from the boiler.

Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 06, 2020 06:07PM
Steam automotive projects of 1970s:


Drawings show that steam automotive powerplants have larger volume that equivalent IC engines. Also steam powered automobiles probably won't pass crash testing.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/06/2020 06:15PM by novice.

Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 09, 2020 03:11PM
Hi guys, I wanted to toss something into the ring here.

Steam has poor efficiency, poor weight and volume metrics, poor crash resistance, poor everything. But that doesn't matter. Because now, all over the world, everyone has thrown every bit of common sense they ever had into the trashcan in this blind effort to "save the environment". Some kind of impending extinction, or something.....

And it would seem that regardless of how inefficient steam is, it is the best option for the environment. That's the idea I was trying to sell the automakers.

My proposed steam system was really nothing special, other than the general stored-steam methodology. It's not the steam system I was selling, it was the implementation of it.

Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 10, 2020 08:15AM
I'd certainly argue that batteries represent a better path forward...and they are improving. Allegedly, Volkswagen just came up with a way to prevent lithium from catching fire --- this means we can utilize a higher precentage lithium and extend battery range another 50 percent. There's other chemistries and processes, including nanotech, that promise to likewise boost battery performance. Nikola just took on GM as an investor and partner --- GM already possesses advanced battery and fuel cell technology which Nikola intends to use in their trucks.

Fortunately, battery manufacture is getting pretty clean. It isn't like solar panel construction doesn't present its own environmental issues. Better yet, there are already processes in place to recycle battery materials (even lithium ion). As more alternative battery architectures become available, there will be fewer chokepoints in the manufacturing process.

Honestly, if I were looking for a way to incorporate steam with solar, I'd look at solar concentrators and steam powered generators. A concentrator should be cheaper than a solar panel. If you wanted to incorporate something like eutectic salts into the system, you could store thermal energy for production during night-time hours.

An even better fit for steam is off-grid operations. There are a number of places in the world, such as remote portions of Canada and Alaska, which are not connected to the grid. These places are dependent upon diesel generators with fuel being trucked in long distances, raising the price per gallon greatly. Often these locales are in the middle of forested areas which could provide decent supplies of biofuels. The same argument can be made for farms, part of the plants can be processed for fuel and the residue can still be spread back onto the fields as fertilizer. There are any number of places in the Pacific Islands, South America and Africa which could likely utilize biomass as well.


Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 10, 2020 09:16AM
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 10, 2020 08:50PM
Coal dust fired gas turbine Oldsmobile Delta 88:


There is no high pressure boiler and no main cooling radiator, except small one for the lubricating oil.
Disadvantage is that coal ash is not good for the turbine. Indirectly fired air heat exhanger can eliminate this problem.
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 11, 2020 11:04AM
Feed water heater is prevalent on this condensing Stanley. When you click the link, you may have to rotate the picture. Big feed water heater pictured.

Stanley Piping Diagram

Does anybody know this guy who created this website?
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 11, 2020 11:53AM
You have to be careful what you look at. That’s not original to the car.
Evan some non-condensing cars have feed water heaters in the exhaust duck, but there not original either. There were manufactures making accessories for cars way back then like today.
Saca store room sales copies of the original Stanley instruction books.

Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 11, 2020 01:32PM

As I mentioned before, this particular topic is related to a proposal to automotive manufacturers, meaning the car has to be state-of-the-art. The Stanley engine is highly inefficient, any presumably practical modern engine would not be throwing the same large amount of waste heat out of the exhaust. A modern car would also have a thermostatically regulated condenser in order to prevent rejecting excess heat to the atmosphere. Cooler engine exhaust and hotter condensate conspire against feed heaters. If you want to make a replica or "period" car, that's one thing. A feed heater is basically a "band-aid" to reduce the bleeding of heat to the environment --- a modern car would simply be designed right out of the box to minimize that bleeding.


Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 12, 2020 10:32AM
Another example of a novel drive system that failed to be commercialized.
Australian underground rescue tractor with the closed cycle gas turbine propulsion powerplant based on 316 hp converted helicopter engine T63-A700 with hydrostatic transmission and an electrically heated 1000kWh 10000 lbs molten sodium fluoride salt energy storage. 150 kw electric heaters melt salt at 1818F in 7 hours. Net efficiency is 35%. That is 350 kWh of useful energy.
Cost of sodium fluoride salt for this system was $6412 in 2001 dollars.
Also, molten silicon alloys could be used instead of salt with twice the energy density.
There were also projects of small automobiles with molten salt energy storage and stirling engine.

open | download - Electric molten salt turbine tractor.pdf (210.6 KB)
open | download - underground tractor with molten salt energy storage.doc (125.5 KB)
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 13, 2020 03:43PM
novice Wrote:
> Another example of a novel drive system that
> failed to be commercialized.
> Australian underground rescue tractor with the
> closed cycle gas turbine propulsion powerplant
> based on 316 hp converted helicopter engine

That's very interesting. I guess sometimes it takes more than just a good idea to get somewhere.
Seems you also have to have a lot of money and a lot of luck.

Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 14, 2020 08:20AM
Maybe I should write about this, again, since I actually work in the powertrain development process for a major American automotive manufacturer.

Quite honestly, a good idea will get you absolutely nowhere. Thomas Edison referred to "5 percent inspiration and 95 percent perspiration" and that holds as true today as it did then, maybe even more so since so many of the really basic ideas have already been tied up --- a practical artificial light was a big deal back then whereas, today, you are struggling to add a few percentage points to the efficiency of a light.

Quite realistically, if you want to influence the direction of future automotive engineering, you will first need to get some engineering degrees. That gets you in the door, but those degrees still don't mean much --- I have met some stone-cold idiots with engineering degrees --- the whole effort is wasted if you don't have some sort of aptitude for the profession and if you can't accumulate a lot of experience in whatever portion of the field you end up in. Yeah, design has progressed to the point where people specialize in things like crankshafts, camshafts, engine blocks and so on. If this seems ridiculous, I dare you to try to design a camshaft that opens and closes the valves at the fastest possible rate without introducing damaging stresses to the components in the process.

There is some luck involved, but the whole point of product development is to eliminate luck in favor of a methodical process. This means that you end up in a multidisciplinary team consisting of people with a wide range of backgrounds. Art Gardiner has one of the most successful automotive-style steam engines of which I know, the PSL which Chuk Williams ran at Bonneville. Art has gone on record that he doesn't deserve the congratulations he receives for having perfected a steam engine --- this isn't because he's modest, but it's because he had extensive background working for Detroit Diesel. Hobbyists are thrilled, and congratulatory, if they get a system to operate. Professionals, like Art, take that absolutely for granted. They know that real success is much more hard won and that merely running is just the first rung on the ladder. The powerplant needs to reach stringent efficiency and performance goals that are measured only through extensive testing in dynamometer labs. This same dyno testing will also help establish whether or not the powerplant meets a required degree of reliability.

None of this constitutes victory. When designing and developing the engine, and then during fabrication of the prototypes, a great deal of attention is given to matters of manufacture. When first joining SACA, I was told that the most important thing is getting an engine to run and, once that is accomplished, anyone can clean things up and start manufacturing. This is the sort of thing you hear from hobbyists who have no idea what is involved on the industrial end of things --- in the case of the individual who told me this, I spent a few minutes describing the facts of life and he got the point and took it seriously --- not everyone is so educatable. It is quite possible to design, build and test something that is so impractical to manufacture that no one could ever make a profit off of it. Just manufacturing isn't enough, we need to be able to minimize production machinery cycle times, minimize scrap rate and hold tolerances reliably. When you consider that building and outfitting an engine plant capable of mass producing auto engines will cost about a billion dollars, you get the point that mistakes can be deadly to your operation's continued survival.

That billion dollars brings up another major point, you need to have a really solid business plan and conduct cost/benefit analyses. The best engineered, most efficiently manufactured product in the world is an utter failure if you can't get customers to shell out hard cash to acquire it. This means a lot of hard market research combined with financial analysis.

So, luck may play a part, but not so much as you'd think. It isn't a matter of coming up with an inspired idea and doing a few hours work to flesh it out. Instead, a long, involved process is engaged simply to determine whether or not the idea merits any further expenditure or funds and effort with this being followed up by a far more involved development process.
Re: Full Steam Proposal for Auto Mfrs
September 14, 2020 11:53AM
Hi Rolly,
I knew the feed water heater wasn't original. However, I'm curious to what the gentleman was thinking to add this device to his Stanley?

I would think it would have a significant impact.

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