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Author Topic: Steam Engine / Power Idea  (Read 3917 times)

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Offline marsofold

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Steam Engine / Power Idea
« on: November 28, 2019, 03:52:13 PM »
Saw a you-tune video where a guy used a 12 volt pump to feed water into a heated copper coil to make a rather impressive steam cleaner. 6" piddly water flow until he heated the coil with propane, then a continuous 5 foot gusting steam output! Thought that the same setup heated with wood might be able to use the steam flow to power an air drill cranking an alternator for power (use a small percentage of the power to run the pump). Other than corrosion issues that I see as fixable, might this be a safe easy way to use wood heat for electricity?

Offline Southside

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2019, 04:18:34 PM »
Without a lot of safety designed into the system I would say it's a better way to turn wood into a bomb than electricity.
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Offline sawguy21

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2019, 04:52:20 PM »
X2 High pressure steam is nothing to fool with, you better know what you are doing. It went out of favor for a reason, a lot of fuel, water and manpower is required to keep it producing.
old age and treachery will always overcome youth and enthusiasm

Online Don P

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2019, 07:07:00 PM »
It is a great way to get hurt. We are used to things that stop when they hit overload, steam doesn't do that, it keeps going till something breaks and once released the volume is huge. That said, look up the flash boiler used on the old Stanley steamer, really neat stuff. John Hartford wasn't kidding, there really was a steam powered aereoplane  :)
The future is a foreign country, they will do things differently there - Simon Winchester

Offline Gearbox

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2019, 08:33:55 PM »
we run 2 steam engines at our show and use 4000 gallon of water in 3 days .
A bunch of chainsaws a BT6870 processer , TC 5 International track skidder and not near enough time

Offline marsofold

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2019, 01:34:40 AM »
There's NO big explosive boiler tank to explode. Zip. None. Nada. Yeah a pressure relief valve at each end of the monotube is probably a good idea. As is running it in a block small enclosure. But 50 psi isn't superheated steam. It isn't rocket science, nuclear, or deeply mysterious in any way. It is an attempt to generate power self-sustainably. As in not needing propane. As in not requiring oil for an oil change for generator pistons every 100 hours of running. While safety is always a valid concern, there is much value in attempting to think outside the box. Suggestions on how to improve safety or improve the design are always welcome. Telling me that it's above my head or discouraging me from trying will be ignored.

Online Don P

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2019, 07:38:06 AM »
Well, that's a shame, this could have been interesting.

I misspoke, it was a Doble or White that used the coil type flash boiler, the Stanley was a conventional fire tube boiler.

The future is a foreign country, they will do things differently there - Simon Winchester

Offline Southside

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2019, 07:55:23 AM »
I saw a Youtube video where a guy convinced his girlfriend to shoot a book he was holding up to prove it was bullet proof, because he had already tried the stunt without him holding the book.  Appears a couple of parameters changed in an un-planned way, it didn't work out so well for either of them.....
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2019, 08:15:24 AM »
It is great fun to think of these things.  like a perpetual motion machine.  this would have added energy from wood, but I would start with compressed air to see if it works. usually the generator would require a fair amount of power, and often the "pump" may pull more juice than is in the system.  Just like a car running an alternator, it pulls the 350 hp motor down a bit when it kicks in.  As well I agree with your safety plan, as the air drill/turbine may generate back pressure (equal and opposite forces)  as it begins to turn the generator.  You are aware that this is read around the world, so folks are trying to make sure things are safe.  I made a potato gun out of 3 inch pvc pipe.  we used it in a cub scout Christmas parade and got first prize shooting confetti in the air and singing let it snow.  6 years later in boy scouts, we got out the potato gun and started testing it.  at about 50 psi heard a creaking sound, and I told my son to get behind a pallet.  thought maybe it was contorting under pressure and making the sand make noise on the drive.  touch it with my foot and it exploded.  dented my garage door.  4 neighbors came running, and 4 years later we are still finding pvc in the yard 100 feet away.  I had a tiny spot bleeding on my sternum, but we were not otherwise injured.  
so invent something cool, let us know how it goes, and be safe.  If you or friends have engineering info, try to match the steam motor to the power required to drive the generator.  have a valve to shut off water, cause you cannot turn off the wood fire fast.  might be able to remove the coil, or flood the fire.  maybe the water can run by gravity instead of pump (if that is what the pump is for).  someone can tell you the BTUs per hour required to generate steam at a volume and pressure to produce a hp to turn that generator.  each change will be associated with losses so the whole system needs to be insulated and very efficient.  good luck and best regards.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline doc henderson

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2019, 08:27:46 AM »
sterling motors are interesting, but not powerful enough to do anything.  what is your background.  that may help us understand where you are coming from.  I built my log splitter and put a car muffler on it.  bought a coil of 1/4 inch copper tubing to wrap around the muffler.  this was to be able to pour water through to make instant soup or hot chocolate in the "field".  never wrapped it, cause the log splitter sits behind my shop.  we cut trees in the field, and buck into logs and split them in the yard.  I am getting too old to expend energy on novelty. 
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Offline Nebraska

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2019, 10:57:19 AM »
@marsofold There's a whole truck load of nice, learned, caring folks on this board, who on first instinct don't want to see someone inadvertently hurt themselves.  Some it's their job, they do it every day, some like me have floundered around plenty and try to learn from their mistakes, my first thought was  well it probably could, my second thought was scalding ones self would stink.  People just care.
 I totally get the desire to be self sufficient and live simply minimizing  or eliminating the power grid.  I have a small creek with about 20 or so feet of fall I have threatened to try to build a small water wheel or turbine generator. But frost would limit it's usefulness 3 months out of the year.  It's just the challenge to see if I can do it. Its also an unecessary piddle project, that is a ways down the list.  Welcome to the forum share a little back round in your profile. It would be an interesting project to watch.

Offline scsmith42

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2019, 01:27:08 PM »
You would first want to calculate the number of btu's that the propane torch was putting out so that you could determine how much firewood would be required.

As others have indicated, steam boilers can be extremely dangerous.  Having said that, a quick glance at the your tube homemade steam cleaners don't seem to indicate that they have a pressure chamber, so there may be some inherent safeguards to the design.


we run 2 steam engines at our show and use 4000 gallon of water in 3 days .
Rollag show?  My brother and I are talking about trying to make it up there for the show.

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Offline GAB

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2019, 02:41:49 PM »
When you calculate the BTU's don't forget to factor in an efficiency of approximately 10%.
Also, I'm told water is unstable at pressures over 3990 psi and 1000 + degrees F.
Be Careful as mother nature does not allow dropouts.
GAB
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Offline Iwawoodwork

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2019, 05:38:12 PM »
GO For IT, about 25 years ago I put 3/8 copper coils ( bought a coil of soft copper tubing and used the whole coil) in a old steel wood heating stove to heat my hot tub. ran the copper out of the stove to about 6 feet of !/2 water pipe then to plastic to the tub, worked well, but at times controlling the temp was an issue.   It would get hot enough that only steam was pulsing into the hot tub that was about 20 feet away. Nothing ever blew, the plastic pipe and soft copper would both split and release pressure before any explosion happened, as said before if you have relief valves or built in weak spots I don't see any reason it would not work.

Online Don P

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2019, 10:52:01 PM »
Disclaimer, I know squat about steam :D
But like Doc's perpetual motion machine it has been fun thinking about today.
So, thinking about an auto alternator, I've heard they consume 2-5 hp from your engine so we have a big air drill of some volume and pressure, probably running at around 100psi standard air pressure to get any kind of power out of it (the air drills I've used I can stop in my hand, this needs a serious size upgrade, hydraulic pump running as a motor?). The feedwater pump needs to be capable of injecting water at higher than that pressure and be positively checked to prevent steam backflow. That is the first significant draw on the alternator, magnetism required to create that power steals some of the drills output power. Now start loading up the alternator with lights or whatever, the drag on the drill increases, the heat required for the load increases as does the feedwater required, getting quite a fire going. To produce that 100psi steam pressure the water needs to be close to 400 degrees, think about a car radiator system, pressure raises the boiling point.

One more bulb gets switched on and the drill stalls, now we have a problem, the fire is roaring (where is all this wood coming from? this is not a lazy woodstove you just became married to this furnace) this isn't a regulated air supply, when the drill stops, the pressure spikes, instantly, temp follows. The drill explodes. Need a safety valve.

At the same pressure, a big variable, steam is 1700 times bigger than the water that created it. As the temperature climbs that can double, steam is huge. If the tube water is at 400 degrees because it is under pressure, as soon as the system ruptures and hits atmospheric pressure all the water flashes to steam. We have enough piping to heat and run that drill, that is a gallon or two at a minimum the way I'm seeing it unless the fire is a roaring jet. This is not a big boiler but is certainly not zero.

So there is a safety valve, the drill is locked, the feedwater which has somehow been governed to load needs to stop and the safety opens, it needs to be able to dump that steam volume right now. I wouldn't dump it in a small block building or risk having anything breach inside a brittle structure that would simply be the next thing to rupture. If the tube is empty and the fire is roaring you're about to lose the tubing, I'd dump the steam and tube water into the fire.

Like I said I know squat, just trying to provide constructive criticism.
I did see where the steam car's ran at around 80% efficiency, GM even prototyped a couple as recently as the late 50's.
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Offline marsofold

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2019, 11:42:49 PM »
I'm thinking of using a turkey cooker to prototype the design (happy Thanksgiving all!). Do air drills really obstruct the flow if stalled? I had assumed that they would just uselessly vent if stalled. I have a 2 HP air compressor, so I would try out the air drill under load using compressed air first to see what would happen during stalling. My neighbor has both a turkey cooker and an alternator that I can borrow. All of the other parts are relatively cheap and total to less than $100. A cheap experiment. The other angle I could try would be that instead of using an air drill, to vent the end of the steam line into a large piece of ductwork pipe to induce airflow. They sell commercial versions of this as "pneumatic air blowers". A small wind turbine at the inflow end could generate power. And if it didn't work I'd still have a wind turbine. But since that would be a lot more expensive to try, I'll try the air drill idea first. 

Offline doc henderson

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2019, 01:14:30 AM »
give it a shot.  it takes a lot to turn and alternator.  get one off a Toyota maybe, not a diesel truck.  the drill is a place to start if you can borrow one.  not sure if the heat will destroy an air drill, I honestly do not know.  I know if they stall they bleed air but not sure of the pressure.  there has to be some to create the force.  If you rig it on an air compressor tank, you can try it at different pressures and see if the volume is adequate to keep up and if it does turn at the proper RPM.  you should be able to see the proper rpm range for an alternator, or do the math from the car pulley system and based on engine rpm range.  higher rpms should make more watts of power. may want an amp meter and volt meter.  amps x volts equals watts.  love to see pics or video if you get it.  be careful! and good luck.  the air compressor should be safe.  but it may far out produce the "wood fire and water" for volume and pressure.  Hope it works!  
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline Ianab

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2019, 01:47:29 AM »
The physics is OK, you can boil water, run the steam through an engine, and make power.

It's the practicalities that are going to bite you. To get real power you need high pressure and temperature. Think 100+PSI etc.  Sure a stream of steam from a boiler looks impressive, but if it's only at 1 psi, you don't get much energy from it. 

Burning wood waste for power works on an industrial scale, but the local sawmills that run that are talking 50 mW steam turbines, and then using the still hot steam to heat kilns. Scaling down doesn't work quite as well. 

Thought about a wood gasifier and running a small generator off that? Several members have trucks and tractors that run off wood gas. 
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2019, 03:41:59 AM »
the stihl mechanic here is Amish.  he went to an auction and bought a little steam engine.  smaller than a lawn mower engine.  he demonstrated it on compressed air.  had the governor and all kinds of working parts.  I bought years ago a 3 cylinder radial air engine, for powering an explosion proof fan.  they were set up like the old rotary bi-plane engines.  got it for a paint room.  there is stuff out there.  
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline doc henderson

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Re: Steam Engine / Power Idea
« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2019, 04:23:29 AM »










replica working steam engine.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor


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