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Simple article advocating for steam tech.

Posted by Steamcarstartup 
Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 03, 2023 09:11AM
A case for a lost technology.

In the early days of the automobile, steam engines were a popular means of propulsion. While steam engines fell out of favor with the development of the internal combustion engine, there is still a strong case for a steam engine-based automobile with updated technology.

First, let's look at the advantages of steam engines. One of the biggest advantages is that they can use a wide variety of fuels. While gasoline and diesel engines are limited to petroleum-based fuels, steam engines can run on a variety of fuels, including coal, wood, and even waste materials. This means that a steam engine-based automobile could be powered by a renewable or waste fuel source, which would be much more environmentally friendly than a traditional gasoline or diesel engine.

Another advantage of steam engines is their high torque output. Steam engines can generate a tremendous amount of torque at low speeds, which makes them ideal for heavy-duty applications. This is why steam engines were used in locomotives and ships for many years. A steam engine-based automobile could offer similar performance benefits, especially in applications such as towing or hauling heavy loads.

One of the main reasons that steam engines fell out of favor with the development of the internal combustion engine was their inefficiency. Steam engines require a significant amount of heat to generate steam, which means that a lot of energy is lost in the process. However, with modern technology, it is possible to make steam engines much more efficient. For example, modern materials can be used to make boilers that are much lighter and more efficient than traditional boilers. In addition, advanced control systems can be used to optimize the combustion process and increase efficiency.

One potential application for a steam engine-based automobile is in the area of long-haul trucking. Long-haul trucks typically cover thousands of miles each year, which means that they consume a tremendous amount of fuel. A steam engine-based truck could use a renewable fuel source, such as wood or waste materials, to generate steam and power the vehicle. This would significantly reduce the environmental impact of long-haul trucking and could potentially save companies a lot of money on fuel costs.

Another potential application for a steam engine-based automobile is in the area of off-road vehicles. Off-road vehicles require high torque and low speed performance, which are both strengths of steam engines. In addition, off-road vehicles often operate in remote areas where there may not be access to traditional fuel sources. A steam engine-based vehicle could be powered by wood or other biomass that is readily available in these areas.

Of course, there are also some challenges associated with developing a steam engine-based automobile. One of the biggest challenges is the weight of the system. Steam engines require a boiler to generate steam, which can be quite heavy. However, with modern materials and design, it is possible to make much lighter and more efficient boilers. In addition, the overall weight of the vehicle could be reduced through the use of lightweight materials, such as carbon fiber.

Another challenge is the startup time. Unlike gasoline or diesel engines, which can be started quickly, steam engines require time to heat up and generate steam. However, this challenge could be overcome by developing advanced control systems that optimize the combustion process and reduce startup times.

In conclusion, while steam engines fell out of favor with the development of the internal combustion engine, there is still a strong case for a steam engine-based automobile with updated technology. Steam engines offer several advantages, including the ability to use a wide variety of fuels, high torque output, and the potential for greater efficiency with modern technology. While there are some challenges associated with developing a steam engine-based automobile, these challenges can be overcome with modern materials, design, and control systems. With the growing concern for the environment and the need for more sustainable transportation solutions, a steam engine-based automobile could be a viable option for the future.

What do you fellow members think? Viable and clear cut or am I just blowing steam?
Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 03, 2023 12:12PM
Being employed in powertrain development for a major automobile manufacturer, I have to note that one of the bigger driving forces in automotive design is government mandates and regulations. The public has no idea how pervasive this can be. Of course, there is crash safety. But, then again, there are better, safer, and more interesting headlight technologies available -- but government regulations won't permit innovation. I did assembly work on prototype vehicles some years back. These were the same machines, but intended for different markets. We needed entirely different wiring harnesses to meet standards in different countries. Apparently, electricity is different as you move around the world.

From the point of view of powertrain engineering, CAFE standards and emissions requirements drive a large part of the engineering. Many states either have or are preparing to mandate electric vehicles by 2035 -- that's just 12 years down the road. Auto manufacturers may still be building combustion engines, but they are shifting resources to electric systems so that they will be able to remain in business in the next decade. Combustion systems may remain allowable if they can be proven to be "carbon neutral" -- Toyota, Porsche, and the aviation industry are betting on that ... but it's far from certain they will work out the kinks and provide mass distribution in such a short time frame. In any case, steam automobiles are going to be less thermally efficient than internal combustion due to losses involved with the latent heat of vaporization, so the carbon impact is likely to be larger than for internal combustion engines -- and the regulatory restrictions will likely be more severe.

Gearing up to mass-produce an automobile is likely going to cost at least $1 billion, just for the factory. That's a lot of money for investors, especially if there's a ticking clock involved and half of that time will be needed just to develop a product and tool up the factory. So far, I haven't seen a convincing argument for mass production of steam cars. It would take some real breakthroughs -- and an incredibly detailed, and convincing, business plan -- in order to sound convincing. Even then, you might need some kind of political clout because people in government are generally not engineers or businessmen.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/03/2023 12:17PM by frustrated.
Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 04, 2023 08:52AM
I disagree that the government won't permit innovation. The problem is lack of management forward thinking in legacy automobile companies. Tesla developed a completely different type of car and is the first new car company to succeed in a very long time. Legacy companies are struggling to change over. We'll see how long it takes to completely rethink how a car is designed and produced. Tesla not only has developed a very different car, they have revolutionized the production process. They have around 3 times more profit per vehicle than legacy companies. Legislative mandates on stopping IC engine production came well after Tesla's success.

Lohring Miller
Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 04, 2023 03:31PM

Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 05, 2023 08:26AM
Key Electric Car Fire Statistics

Electric-powered vehicles have the least risk of catching fire according to data from NTSB.
Hybrid-powered vehicles are at the highest risk of catching fire.
An estimated 215,000 vehicles will catch fire in 2020.
Battery-electric vehicles are only .03% likely to ignite, compared to 1.5% for gas-powered vehicles and 3.4% for hybrid vehicles.
During 2018, vehicle fires caused $1.9 billion in direct property damage in the US.

There are an estimated 284,130 gasoline cars that catch fire every year. (later source)
Fires have occurred in 0.01% of Tesla cars on the road, far fewer than for the car industry as a whole.

Gasoline fires tend to be explosive while electric battery fires start slowly. I have a lot of experience with lithium polymer batteries starting in 2008 when we set the official electric boat kilometer speed record that still stands.


Lohring Miller

Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 06, 2023 09:13AM
Experts ranked the leading self-driving companies. Tesla didn't even crack the top 10.

Elon Musk overstated Tesla’s autopilot and self-driving tech, new lawsuit says

Tesla staged Autopilot video, says Director of Software

Tesla's Autopilot is losing out to Ford, GM in self-driving tech

Feds Order Recall of All Autopilot-Equipped Teslas

"The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are also probing Tesla over its vehicles’ self-driving system. Those agencies have revealed that Musk oversaw the creation of a 2016 video that exaggerated FSD’s capabilities, even dictating the opening text that claimed the company’s cars drive themselves. Emails regarding the production of the video were leaked to Bloomberg News.
It is standard procedure at auto companies that such claims and consumer-facing messaging is vetted in great detail by both engineers and lawyers."

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/06/2023 09:14AM by frustrated.
Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 06, 2023 10:14AM
Someone doesn't buy this BS. [www.foxbusiness.com]

Have you actually driven any vehicle with an advanced driver assistance system? I have used the constantly improving Autopilot for over 4 years and 80,000 miles. Tesla's FSD beta is amazing. Their Autopilot alone is much more capable than the Mercedes "level 3" system. Both Tesla systems are level 2 and require supervision. After a drive down freeways and other highways on FSD beta it drove into Seaside California at night through a maze of one way streets to a designated address.

The problem with Tesla is it doesn't pay (with advertising) normal media for favorable reviews. They still have managed to build 3 giant factories with more planned and can't meet current demand. We'll se what happens to legacy companies over the next few years. I hope they can make the conversion without bankruptcy.

Lohring Miller
PS Another former Ford engineer's opinion. [www.youtube.com]
Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 06, 2023 04:54PM
Off topic based on the Subject of this thread.

Please take the Tesla stuff over to the Miscellaneous Technical forum.
Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 07, 2023 09:12AM
From another thread about "start up times". The offer presented in the quote stands for the Spring Meet this year. I'll bring the Bourbon.

Enough of going down this rabbit hole, back to the main topic of this thread. I'll be going to the steam meet in October and willing to discuss some of these ideas over a bourbon (after a day of steaming).

Back to the start up times:

I don't agree that slow start up times was the demise to the steam car. As spoken about in many articles and by Jay Leno, the starter motor on the internal combustion engine was the true game changer. The wrenching effect of the kick-back on the starting crank was a deterrent to the car.

My opinion, the steam car could have been developed into a mainstay competitor to the internal combustion car. I personally have high hopes for a comeback, just in thought. I wouldn't make any bets at this point.

Today, the times have changed. Now we are putting all our eggs into the electric car basket. During the days of the starter crank and early development of the starter motor, the electric car was in the similar challenged state with battery charge life. However, the start up time was nothing. It wasn't until the Tesla company and Elon M. made it happen.

A steam car is a good solution for today's environmental challenges with it's external combustion along with the potential for long trips. Also, the flexibility on burning a variety of fuels some of which can be renewable/sustainable. Also, it has a purpose in aircraft engines. Pics of MTU design attached.
2.5-MTU Wet Turbo Fan Jet Engine3 reduced.png
2.5-MTU Wet Turbo Fan Jet Engine3 reduced.png
2-MTU Wet Turbo Fan Jet Engine4 reduced.png
2-MTU Wet Turbo Fan Jet Engine4 reduced.png
3-MTU Wet Turbo Fan Jet Engine5.png
open | download - 2019 Fall SACA Presentation.xlsx (30.7 KB)
Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 07, 2023 09:20AM
I attached the images that didn't copy over.

Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 08, 2023 08:43AM
Steam is obsolete for a lot of reasons in vehicle power plants with one major exception. I once worked for this very modern steam boat company.

Lohring Miller

Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 08, 2023 08:55AM
Re: Alternative engines - 6 months ago

A quick story that might be interesting...I was recently at the NYS Fair in Syracuse NY. I went to the NYSERDA (new york state energy research & development authority) booth to ask about energy rebates for going Geothermal at my house. The immediate question was what do you use for heat right now? My response is I burn natural gas. Since I already have a clean burning system, I would not be able to get any rebates.

There is a lesson learned from this experience. That is NYS is interested in clean energy and not so much on efficiency nor renewable fuel options.

The other rebates that were offered and advertised is the electric car rebate. One can get up to $2,000 off the purchase of an electric car that has a 200+ mile range. $1,000 of a range of 40 - 199 miles. $500 of a range of under 40 miles. And the most interesting is a $500 for an electric car with MSRP less than $42,000. Lesson here is that range is the incentive.

Last thing that was super hot was the urgency to install electric solar power on your roof. Serious incentives for this and not for you to invest into the solar farm. Lesson is to have distributed electric power and not rely on the grid so much.

So let me summarize what this experience tells me regarding the idea of producing a steam car to compete in the market:
- what ever the hybrid steam car uses for fuel, it must be really clean burning. This is priority one.
- the range of the steam car needs to be around the 400 mile mark. This is twice the incentive range mentioned above.
- this is a tricky one, to have the fuel or energy source at home or at your house. Electricity seams to be the main contender for this. However, this should spark some interesting discussions?

Let us imagine a steam car in existence that is parked in your driveway. How will it be fueled or better question is how will the car be charged for commuting or for trips? From locomotive history, switcher steam engines were charged with steam from a stationary steam plant. There is significant capacity with a volume of water at the phase change point on a T-S diagram. This means the development of a thermal battery as apposed to an electric battery. I think most everyone already has a hot water tank in their house that stores, you guessed it, hot water.

How about if we take a 400 mile trip? The thermal battery will only get you maybe ~50 miles. So now the car gets significantly more complicated for it needs to carry water, generate heat for making steam and would need to condense the steam after the traction effort to conserve the water along with recouping brake energy like the electric car.

I want to address the 400 mile trip but need to go back to the home energy steam plant that can thermally charge the car. With PV solar, the electricity is pretty good for the home. It can be used to heat, cook and hot water. However, I would suggest a conversion of my natural gas, condensing furnace to hydrogen. This way I don't need to invest in a pricey heat pump system. I can produce hydrogen from the PV panels and store it right at my house. I can instantly produce the hydrogen and burn it to produce heat. No need to store it in this situation.

Now to address the 400 mile trip. I would suggest the use of hydrogen to burn and produce heat. Perhaps there might be a breakthrough in atomic hydrogen burner...controversial at this point. What would be better, to carry hydrogen tanks or carry electric batteries to produce the hydrogen instantly for burning or both? Keep in mind the recouping of braking energy. Let us not dwell on the cold winter temperatures in NYS, especially where I live, at this point.

While you think about that question, please enjoy some steam bike concepts.

Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 09, 2023 08:34AM
Electric Boat is an impressive company alright. The nuclear - steam generation plant is quite impressive and well thought out. That must have been a stellar experience. Keep in mind that the name of the company does not include the word steam.

Not to start any great debate but I agree with you on steam is obsolete in steam automobiles. However, the reason is not because of technology. Theoretically, steam can compete well with the IC engines and even against the electric car. Many of the reasons were presented pretty clearly in Steamcarstartup's first post.

My opinion is that the image or perception of the steam automobile is obsolete. This is the main reason for it having so much resistance in getting a startup. I know of many folks here in the US and in the UK who would agree with this statement. These same folks still think there is hope in revitalizing the steam automobile. Jay Leno is advocating steam. Here is his latest video. He is 72 years old and seams a little slow but still sharp. I like that he introduces his help and their expertise. Be patient, he addresses several steam projects.

Restoration Blog: March 2023

My opinion, it would take a wealthy businessman who agreed with the concept and available technology to grind through the start-up into production much like Elon did. I don't have the wherewithal to do this. Bill Lear did have it and was misfortunate in his venture. The other person who was wise to the development of steam was Besler. He had the technology at hand and the steam car still passed away because of loss in image. His attempt to show the world what steam could do with an airplane (Travel Air) was super exciting. When he took on steam work, he charged and made money. A perfect example of this is the Chevelle project for GM.

Chevelle Steam Conversion: Kimmelsteam

I would even venture to say that I'd produce the steam generation plant from my own money and design. This would be in concert with the design of the vehicle and befitting of the characteristics. All the recognition would be mine also if this were to come to fruition. Something to think about. I think that your water speed record is a result of your resources and design and hence your credit. A nice accomplishment BTW.

As you all know or have gathered is that I consult to a team trying to set the LSR. I'm working with someone else's mono-tube design and trying to make it work. Ideas and concepts I will provide. However, the extent to which it would require real application is going to be costly.

Cheers my friend,

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/09/2023 09:22AM by Rick.H.
Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 09, 2023 09:43AM
At this point, even steam central power stations are loosing their ability to compete with other central power sources. I would love to reserect a steam powered model boat to set some speed records. A steam land speed record would be a great project for someone with enough money and other resources. Steam powered vehicles can't compete in today's world, though. A steam power plant is too complicated, has low efficiency, and needs expensive materials.

Some modern solutions:

Lohring Miller
Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 10, 2023 01:36AM
>someone with enough money and
> other resources. Steam powered vehicles can't
> compete in today's world, though. A steam power
> plant is too complicated, has low efficiency, and
> needs expensive materials

Good God!

Are we really going to kill off all hope?

First the very idea of re-heat was attacked, no one could think of how to make it work in anything but a stationary engine so there goes that possibility. Then later the idea of compounding and old inefficient engines with immense receivers were paraded forth ending any decent expansion. This leaves no hope for efficiency at all.

Now some yahoo official at Bonneville says with his overwhelming knowledge that pressure tanks are not allowed. Listen to him, and there goes any hope for a easily regulated generator.

People, we are bleeding to death with our ideas for a modern steam car. I don't say much because I got dirt in my pockets for show and tell and I know that I can design and invent. And I know that I can't be alone.

Compounds will work and produce much greater expansion efficiency. Get over the negativity about this fact. Re-heat will work and can be controlled easily. Get over that also. And! there is going to be a tank on the boiler. At least mine.

My design goal for an automobile is and long has been a three stage compound with first stage re-heat. I did a lot of thinking about it. I did not just pull it out of my rear end. I can make re-heat work, make compounding work and am looking at close to 40% engine efficiency at the crank shaft (full power), and we all know that a steam engines HP and torque curves are far better than a Diesels.

Fifteen years ago I designed and tested the preliminaries for a condenser. It worked far better than I had dare hope. I wanted to further increase its volumetric efficiency but ran out of time and housing. (2008)

Ken, you can bring that up for them to look at?

I think I have a different philosophy than some of you. (I got along with Howard Langdon very well.) My LSR engine looks like an X of four six cylinder rows and would be a two stage compound, so 24 cylinders and possibly another row to make 30. The two boilers are eight feet long each and 36" in diameter. The combustion pressure is about 20 pounds gauge.

These are racing boilers. They are not there to be efficient they are there to put out steam. So what matters if blue flame is coming out of the exhaust?

Now I have friends who help out and give me some preliminaries to start with, however, they want me to run the numbers also. So I got all the books out of the steam club that seem right for boilers. I plan to study them and see what I come up with on my own.

So give me a little time. Just don't say there is no hope for a modern steam car. If there isn't then it is politics not technology. And if there is no hope in this world then it is with them not us.

There's some steam for Ya.

Bill G.
Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 10, 2023 09:42AM
Nice job Bill, I agree with your thinking and methods. Howard Langdon is a legend with many steam folks. A huge Derr style boiler and Doble Engine...a great recipe for speed.

With great respect to you Lohring, I agree to disagree. Steam has a future and steam cars will come back into vogue.

To revisit what killed the Steam Car, Jay Leno says the electric starter motor did. This is because of the wrenching dangerous motion required on the starter crank. Don't get me wrong and with great respect to Jay, I would like to present another theory for the demise of the steam car.

In the late 1800's, the internal combustion engine was invented and developed. Carl Benz patented and produced the motor wagon, a three-wheeled cool looking vehicle. Pictures attached. Also, by the pictures one can see that the drive system includes a flywheel and belt system that was common with farm equipment to drive farm machinery. This belt system was both a clutch and transmission. Even the first Ford Car, the Quadracycle, used this type of clutch/transmission system. It even had two (2) gears or ratios.

The Carl Benz car was invented and in production in1886. The speed in which the motor wagon traveled was not exactly stellar. Even the Ford Quadricycle was geared for 0 - 10 mph in 1st gear and up to 20 mph in 2nd gear. This was in 1896 and before the 1898 introduction of the Stanley Steam Car at Boston Commons. This new Steam Car could easily pass the Quadricycle. We all know the history of LSR with the Stanley Steam Car setting the speed record in 1906 at 127.659 mph. The steam car literally used the same drive system as proven in the previous 100 years used in a locomotive.

The Glen Curtis Museaum is a 45-minute drive from my house in the Southern Teir of NY. Around the same time, Glen Curtis set the motorcycle LSR at 136.3 mph in 1907. Note that his motorcycle was a V8 and direct drive to the rear wheel. The transition to speed was dicey and not suitable for an everyday vehicle. The Steam Car was an excellent fit for the time. Jay Leno would say it's like the hands of God pushing you forward. Nicely put I might say.

The internal combustion engine was a direct path to power or shaft output. What is meant by that statement is that it doesn't require a burner, boiler and steam engine to make it work. All though Roper proved this system effective in 1896 with a speed record of 30 mph.

My theory is that steam power with direct drive ruled the land until the transmission was developed into a viable solution to make the scalable IC engine (1 cylinder -> V8) in its high rpms to cover the transition to speed. Hence it was the development of the transmission that thwarted the Steam Car. Let us face it, that speed is the major factor. The one who can achieve this in the simplest manor wins the game.

Let me know your thoughts...

Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 11, 2023 09:10AM
I wouldn't be here if I didn't love steam. I'm also active on some two stroke forums for the same reasons. I'm just looking at where the new efforts by large organizations is going. My first job after graduation at the height of the cold war was at the above mentioned company. Today, almost half of the best engineering graduates want to work for Tesla or Space X. Of the 20 companies on the list, only GE deals with steam power. All the car companies on the list are scrambling to figure out how to design and build electric cars.

Lohring Miller
Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 11, 2023 11:54PM

I looked at some of the Land Speed records at Bonneville. Did you know that some woman went 186 mph on a bicycle? That's what it said.

I wonder what she looks like. A big hairy gorilla comes to mind. Don't tell her I said that.

Anyway I got the stuff I ordered from the SACA store so I will be busy looking through that for some info on boilers. One of the orders was a stack of papers 307 pages (both sides) and I am glad that I didn't drop it, taking it out of the box.
I think I will clamp it and drill some holes in the edge of it to go into a ring binder.

I have been working to get my drafting machine working. Some parts were tossed out during the last move. It will be nice to start getting some drafting going again. I can picture so many things in my head although it is good to get some things drawn out to really look at them best.

Best Regards,

Bill G.
Re: Simple article advocating for steam tech.
March 14, 2023 06:19AM
Hey Bill,
Hope this inspires you...

Working on the interface between my 10 HP Stanley and a Model T rear end.


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