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Old 08-02-2010, 02:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Steam Engine for MPG?

One of my many interests has always been steam power. When I was little, I loved to see old steam locomotives operate, and more recently I have read a lot about the use of steam engines in cars. In fact, there is currently an automotive steam engine ready for market, from the Cyclone Power company.

A bit of history.....In 1900, there was equal competition between steam cars, gasoline and electric cars. There were a lot of technical advances made, and the most advanced car (the Doble Model E) could start from cold in 30 seconds, had a top speed of 90mph, and at 70mph there was no vibration, since the engine turned at 900rpm. That was accomplished in 1924.

There are still a lot of people who would like to see the steam car back on the road (myself included). Cars physically have not changed much, retrofitting a steam engine in an existing car is a very attractive option. Fitting it all in a small light package is the issue.

Enter Cyclone Power. They claim to have created a self contained steam engine and boiler packaged in roughhly the same space as a standard transaxle ICE. They are mainly going to launch a 100HP automotive engine, aimed at the performance market, the Mark V.

I am more interested in the smaller, 20HP model, the Mark II. This one is targeted at generators/steady speed operation. But if it could be made to fit a small car, the benefits would be numerous:

simpler than ICE (no transmission, clutch, radiator, alternator, etc)
lower horsepower = better MPG
better low end torque
runs on any liquid fuel
extremely low emissions

I will be emailing the company and try to get their take on this idea.

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Old 08-02-2010, 11:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Another technology I wish I could buy with ease. It seems like a 20hp one would be rather small, but on second thought; a hybrid, running the steam with electric for acceleration could do some amazing things...
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Old 08-03-2010, 11:24 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Jerryrigger View Post
It seems like a 20hp one would be rather small, but on second thought; a hybrid, running the steam with electric for acceleration could do some amazing things...
You have to keep in mind that all the torque on a steam engine is available at 0 rpms. Also the engine does not idle, it just stops with the car.

That's the same as an electric motor, which makes a steam-electric hybrid appear somewhat redundant.

However, the same company is offering a Waste Heat Engine (WHE) which purports to reuse the spent steam to generate electricity. If used alongside the main engine to power an electric drive motor, this would effectively add to the overall efficiency, already claimed around 35%.
But the WHE may not generate enough electricity to make it worthwhile.

As I understand it, torque = acceleration and horsepower = speed.

You would have a peppy little car with a lower top speed than most.
Perfect for ecomodders like me.
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Old 08-03-2010, 01:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by KY Metro View Post
Also the engine does not idle, it just stops with the car.
Depends on what you mean by idle, I think. The driveshaft wouldn't be turning, but it'd still be burning fuel in order to keep the steam pressure up, no?
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Old 08-03-2010, 01:44 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
Depends on what you mean by idle, I think. The driveshaft wouldn't be turning, but it'd still be burning fuel in order to keep the steam pressure up, no?
With a modern boiler and well insulated everything, it wouldn't need to use much fuel to keep the pressure up. So not none for long stops, but close to it.
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Old 08-03-2010, 04:07 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
It'd still be burning fuel in order to keep the steam pressure up, no?
Even Stanley Steamers from the 1920s in cold New England were able to keep up steam all night simply by running the pilot light, at about 600-900 btus/hr. That's roughly 150 to 225 hours on a gallon of kerosene. I'd guess the high tech boilers now would use much less than that.
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Old 08-03-2010, 06:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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OK, I just heard from the company, Cyclone Power. Sort of a form letter, I guess.

Quote:
Thank you for your interest in the Cyclone Engine Technology. We appreciate your interest and desire to own a Cyclone product however, we do not manufacture for retail sales.
Cyclone is an R & D center and we manufacture for production of our licensees. The current product to hit the retail market will be the Waste Heat Engine with several supercritical engines following. The date for release from the licensee has not been announced.

Remember, when using a Cyclone Engine at idle the pistons stop moving and the fuel shuts off.
The heat contained within the combustion chamber can actually run the vehicle for about 10 minutes without burning any fuel at all. This means that the city MPG will be extremely good compared with today’s Internal Combustion Engines.

Please review the attachments to answer your questions.
Please be patient as development continues.

Sincerely,


Wilson McQueen
Director of Marketing
Cyclone Power Technologies
954 943 8721
I have read through the attachments he sent, and I will post some of the relevant data if I can find anything useful.
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Old 08-04-2010, 01:49 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
The heat contained within the combustion chamber can actually run the vehicle for about 10 minutes without burning any fuel at all. This means that the city MPG will be extremely good compared with today’s Internal Combustion Engines.
This means that you first have to heat it for 10 minutes before extracting any useful energy? This is good for vehicles that are almost always running, but not for the typical morning then afternoon 30 minute commute. The good side is that once it's fired up you don't need fuel for the last 10 minutes of your ride.
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Old 08-04-2010, 07:30 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Yeah thats a pretty vague statement using time instead of amount of energy capacity like a battery would use. I'd highly doubt it takes 10 minutes to warm up.
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Old 08-04-2010, 10:31 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Cyclone Power Technologies - Technical FAQ

http://cyclonepower.com/press/10-27-09.pdf

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