STEAM

Every now and then, the discussion touches on alternatatives to the gasoline engine.
I just finished watching a show about the old steam engined cars.
They had a lot of positive attributes.
I wonder if any company has explored steam ? Applying modern engineering materials and techniques, thy might come up with the perfect urban alternative.
I realize there's a problem with freezing in the northern climes, but a lot of the American poplation live in no-freeze zones.
And, there'd be no 800 pound battery pack to worry about.
???? <rj>
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Basically, with steam you introduce an extra working fluid for no benefit-- when steam cools down to its normal state, it has no intrinsic energy that is easily released, unlike gasoline, or propane, or diesel -- which are combustable. Also, you never get more energy out of steam than you put into it, and due to inefficiencies, it is always less.
The same applies to Hydrogen, that magical fuel that you hear about in the media from time to time--normally you find it bound up with oxygen in water. You have to expend a lot of energy to separate them, and you never get as much energy back from the fuel cell or whatever you are using than you used to split the water in the first place.
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"" wrote:
> > > > Every now and then, the discussion touches on > > alternatatives to the gasoline engine. > > > > I just finished watching a show about > > the old steam engined cars. > > They had a lot of positive attributes. > > > > I wonder if any company has explored steam ? > > Applying modern engineering materials and techniques, > > thy might come up with the perfect urban alternative. > > > > I realize there's a problem with freezing in the northern > climes, > > but a lot of the American poplation live in no-freeze zones. > > > > And, there'd be no 800 pound battery pack to worry about. > > > > ???? > > <rj> > > > Basically, with steam you introduce an extra working fluid for > no benefit-- > when steam cools down to its normal state, it has no intrinsic > energy that > is easily released, unlike gasoline, or propane, or diesel -- > which are > combustable. Also, you never get more energy out of steam > than you put > into it, and due to inefficiencies, it is always less. > > The same applies to Hydrogen, that magical fuel that you hear > about in the > media from time to time--normally you find it bound up with > oxygen in > water. You have to expend a lot of energy to separate them, > and you never > get as much energy back from the fuel cell or whatever you are > using than > you used to split the water in the first place.
A steam engine is known as a external combustion engine. There is room for improvement in efficency and it was studied in the 90s for modern locomotives and may see a return their yet if fuel prices continue to climb. Even to this day the most power locomotives ever built where steam powered. (one model could develope around 8000 draw bar HP AFTER it propelled itself and tender down the track with a combined weight of over 800 tons. WIth a IC engine air take the place of steam in a cylinder because it is the ingition of fuel expanding the air in the cylinder that drives piston down, not the fuel itself and with a steam engine the fuel heats the steam which expands in cylinders. There are ways to improve steam efficencies and one is super heating the steam and they can be made more efficent than a IC engine with proper design but it is not practical for a car. Bear in mind that virtually all "fired" plants and the "nukes" are steam powered to run turbines that power the generators so that should tell you something about the efficencies possible with proper steam design.
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So what creates the steam in a steam powered automobile?
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wrote:

You could burn anything from wood to to propane. You'd want "the most BTUs per pound", and something that's easy to ignite. I guess the ideal would be low grade fuel oil.
I guess the actual steam engine is simple, quite efficient, and loaded with low-end torque.
I'm not sure you'd need a transmission at all.
<rj>
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"user" wrote:

In the old original steam one it was a oil fired boiler.
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The medium in the closed loop cycle need not be water, it could be one of many that are available, that would not be a concern in cold climates.
The only problem with nuclear power is that people in the US have been convinced by the environuts that it is dangerous, when in fact it is the safest, cleanest, lowest cost power source available in the world today. Because of the environuts the US falls way behind other countries in nuclear power. Just 20% of our electricity in generated by nuclear power while countries like Japan and France generate the majority of their electricity with nuclear power. Safe disposal of nuclear waste is not a scientific problem, it is a political problem yet to be overcome by reason.
mike hunt
SnoMan wrote:

. Bear in mind that virtually all

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So, tell us how to safely dispose of nuclear waste. Why is it a good thing to leave our future generations, for the next 5 to 10 thousand years, this problem?
Al
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Do a search of the safe long term underground nuclear storage, for a definitive answer to your question, WBMA.
Why do you believe returning radioactive material back into the very ground from which it came, would be a problem?
mike hunt
Big Al wrote:

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Big Al wrote: So, tell us how to safely dispose of nuclear waste. Why is it a good thing to leave our future generations, for the next 5 to 10 thousand years, this problem? ____________________________
Radioactive materials are active for millions of years. Radioactive decay is described in half-life units: the number of years until the intensity falls by one half. A material with an energetic half-life of 10 years puts out many more times the radiation rate as the same amount of a material with a half-life of 10 thousand years. The 10-thousand year material is almost inert by comparison.
Nuclear waste is radioactive material which has been used until it will not put out enough energy to use efficiently in a reactor. It is toxic to humans. The safest disposal method is to pulverize it into superfine particles and to distribute the particles over large and remote areas such as the deep ocean zones. This would put the materials back in the environment at lower radiation levels and at safer distribution densities than when they were taken out originally. This disposal method will not burden future generations.
A less desirable disposal method is to collect the waste and store it in remote underground caverns indefinitely. This approach is feasible, but has some drawbacks such as high taxpayer costs for initial construction, high perpetual taxpayer costs for maintenance and security, risk of groundwater contamination, risk of exposure in a shipping accident, and risk of criminal theft for use in weapons (either for explosion or for area contamination.)
The least desirable method is the method now being used; storing nuclear waste on-site. Every nuclear reactor site has a small lake or pond. Waste nuclear material is dumped into the pond and left there. The pond water absorbs the radiation from the waste while the reactor managers wait for the government to decide what to do with it. There are more risks; instead of one fortified location there are hundreds of weakly defended targets for terrorists. And, if an earthquake or a terrorist grenade drains the pond, the entire area will become hot and unapproachable.
Best regards to all alt.autos.gm posters.
Wendy & John. 92 Buick Roadmaster 5.7 TBI ________________________________________________________
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"Wendy & John" wrote:

None of the materails to be stored in Nevada are dangerous for millions of years. More like 30 thousand or so that they are a problem.
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"SnoMan" wrote:
None of the materials to be stored in Nevada are dangerous for millions of years; more like 30 thousand that they are a problem. ______________________________________
An astronomy professor commented that earth would fall into the sun and be consumed in 30 billion years. A student rose crying, "Omigod, omigod!" The professor said there was no reason to worry about something that would not accur for 30 billion years. The student sat down saying, "What a relief! I thought you said 30 MILLION!"
Wendy & John
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"Wendy & John" wrote:

"Omigod,
I think the sun is supposed to "burn out" before that though as I recall.
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Another option for nuclear waste disposal is to recycle it back into reactors. This is done somewhat in Canada with a small amount of US waste. However the laws in the USA do not allow it as there is the potential for the waste to be intercepted for extraction of components to make nuclear weapons. In Canada, the nuclear plants are run by the government so there is not the issue of delivering material that can be separated into weapons grade materials to private companies.
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"Melvingibson" wrote:

The only problem with ground burial is the stabilty of the ground it is buried in and the water table leakage. Other than that, short of launching it into the sun, underground burial is the best option.
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Brings back memories of Bill Lear and his Lear-mobile. He was going to use "Leardium". Never did find out what that was supposed to be.
With all his successes I that if anyone could make it work I expected that he would. He founded Motorolla producing the first car raido, produced the first radio compass, The Leary gyroscope, the 8 track recorder, and of course the Lear Jet. But the steam powered vehicle was his biggest if not the first failure.
The steam car just is not as efficient as the internal combusion engine.

I have had great hopes for Nuclear Fusion. After 50 years I am beginning to think it may not ever be feasible. Our hopes are that the reactor being built in France might work. Tritium is the primary fuel. Waste from a fusion reactor has a short life compared to the fusion reactors.
Hydrogen may not be the great fuel of the future. Many problems exist. A vehicle with a tank the same size as those used on present cars would have a range of about 50 miles. The tanks are heavy. Refuel is difficult but perhaps not much worse than propane.
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"Rich256" wrote:

Two things wrong here, Hydrogen it the fuel of the future once they can figure out how to easily make it/extract it from water (whether that takes 10 year or 100 years to figure out) and secondly Propane is a LOT easier to deal with the hydrogen and contains a lot more energy per gallon than Hydrogen and actually burns cleaner in a IC engine too. Propane can be stored in a liquid state with relative ease and at relativley low pressures too. Hydrogen boils at about minus 423 F and to safely keep it liquid in a car fuel tank, it take some exotic tankage to keep the hydrogen cold and in a liquid state and it doing so there is about a 3 to 5% fuel loss each day just sitting there so if you park your car with a full tank of hydrogen, it will be empty in less than a month even if you never drive it. Propane is easy to store without exotic tankage. Another thing is that when transfering/refueling with liquid hydrogen, the line must be purged with helium before hand because liquid hydrogen is cold enough to solidify nitrogen quickly (which makes up about 78% of the air we breath) and cause a fuel line blockage.
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"MikeHuny" wrote:

one
Water is preffered and used almost exclusively because of its physical properties (the amount of heat/energy that can be stored in it and the amount released and captured when it flashs to steam and condenses).
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Bill Lear [ Lear Jet Fame ] experimented with a steam go kart, don't know if it was " for real " or an experiment. Steam locomotives are still in use " somewhere " many run for exhibits.
Seems to me, with modern technology, steam could once again prove useful for power. Why is it that external combustion is so forgotten ?
The Sterling, and similar rankine cycle engines have gotten no attention, they were popular during the 60's, than dropped like the proverbial hot potato. After the hosing Preston Tucker [ Tucker Torpedo 1947 ] got, thinking " outside the box " has become a sin in the auto industry.
For more on the Tucker, see book " Indomitable Tin Goose " or movie " Tucker, a man and his car "
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"451CTDS" wrote:

or

It is not forgotten, every modern coal, gas or oil fired power plant uses it. I think you will see the return of modern steam engines in the future and I know the the railroad for one is seriously considering going to modern steam as oil prices continue to rise.
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