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Steam engines

 
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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The brave folks at Factor e Farm are focusing on steam power in some of their recent blog posts:

http://openfarmtech.org/weblog/?s=steam

I thought you guys might be interested, because their intent is to make the technology and capital equipment needed for an ecovillage as accessible as possible.  Particularly, they'd like to publish open-source plans for a steam-powered tractor, with inter-operable parts for a domestic heat/electricity/hot water co-generation plant.

A favorite quote:

just about anything has been tried with steam, and those who attempt to reinvent the steam engine find out that all of their brilliant ideas are already found in 100-year old patents after doing further research – in 99.9% of the cases.

 
                          
Posts: 250
Location: Marrakai Northern Territory Australia
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I have often wondered if a solar powered steam engine was feasable combine moden tech with old? but then how would it help night time or low sun days?

just a thought

Bird
 
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Location: Deepest Darkest NZ
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Steam engines are much more efficient than internal combustion engines and generally are simpler beasties.
 
                        
Posts: 278
Location: Iowa, border of regions 5 and 6
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kiwimac wrote:
Steam engines are much more efficient than internal combustion engines and generally are simpler beasties.



They are also much, much, MUCH more dangerous.  Anytime you get enough steam hot enough to do any useful work, you have steam at sufficient temperature and pressure to flash-cook the meat off your bones, if you're unlucky enough to be around a leak.  They called the drivers of the steam locomotives "engineers" for a reason.  All the knobs and meters in the cab of the engine were there so the engineer could keep all the pieces running smoothly -- not always an easy job.  And these beasts can NEVER be left alone while running.

IOW, any solution you devise will NOT be a "plug-n'-play" solution that someone else with no experience can safely adapt to their needs.
 
Ray McIntyre
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Location: Deepest Darkest NZ
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True ENOUGH but I would point out that the Steam powerplants devised for cars were / are much less dangerous than those used in Steam Trains or Traction Engines simply because of vessel size and the weight of the vehicle.
 
                
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Location: West Coast of Canada
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There is a wonderful site that has animated diagrams of numerous different configurations of steam (and other) engines: http://www.animatedengines.com/
 
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Location: Midwest zone 6
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The Stirling Cycle offers an engine that could work off any heat source such as solar collectors or wood stoves.  And it is safe (unlike pressurized steam).


Those interested in engines may like this idea. 
http://www.brickleyengine.com/index.html
 
                                                                    
Posts: 114
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
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Steam is very useful for producing electricity from biomass/wood.

The dangers of steam are well understood and easy to control with presure release valves.

Wood burners are now available that are low emmission and econ friendly.

I really hope that soon we can buy a gen set off the shelf that simply creates electricity from biomass.  This could also be used for head and hot water.  The steam can be recondensed into water and put back through the system.

There are some things like this on the web but nothing really easy enough for me to build.

It is 100 year old technolgy that needs to be dusted off and redeployed.
 
pollinator
Posts: 490
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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Mangudai wrote:
The Stirling Cycle offers an engine that could work off any heat source such as solar collectors or wood stoves.  And it is safe (unlike pressurized steam).



Unfortunately Stirlings are very difficult to design to produce any significant levels of power.  They are also very expensive to build except in the micro horsepower size.
 
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