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Guru
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Minto Wheel Resurrected

04/29/2007 5:22 PM

The Minto Wheel is not a new idea. This simple yet clever heat engine was invented by Wallace Minto, and first presented to the public by Popular Science, Scientific American, Mother Jones, and other sources back in the 1970's. Simply put, the Minto Wheel is a an hermetically sealed ultra-low maintenance device that converts small temperature differences into useful mechanical torque (see links below). Its operating principle somewhat resembles that of a Stirling engine, but the Minto Wheel is more low-tech and durable, and probably more reliable over the long-term. Initially, some hope existed that it could find useful applications such as using solar heat to pump water in third-world agricultural projects. But due to some early technical problems and misunderstandings (and the generally low interest in alternative energy technologies), it never caught on. A year or two ago, the MythBusters television show built and tested a Minto Wheel, but did a surprisingly poor job building their prototype, and hastily concluded that it was "busted" (a rare blunder by the otherwise praise-worthy MythBusters team). But despite all the unfairly negative reporting over the years, individual experimenters continue to try to optimize the device. Follow the links below to learn more about the Minto Wheel.

Video of a working Minto Wheel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fUlKBH1sY8

Original diagram and description appearing in Scientific American:

http://www.amasci.com/freenrg/minto.html

Yahoo group specializing in the Minto Wheel and related heat engines:

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/MintoWheel/

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Pathfinder Tags: alternative energy heat engine low-tech Minto Wheel solar
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Guru
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#1

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

05/01/2007 5:11 AM

This is great Svengali . Many thanks for posting it.

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Anonymous Poster
#2

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

05/01/2007 5:44 AM

Many years ago I bought one of those birds that dip into a water glass, and spent many hours trying to come up with a design that would use the same principle to generate rotary motion. This is fantastic. I think I want to build one.

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Guru
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#5
In reply to #2

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

05/02/2007 1:52 PM

Yes, the "Drinking Bird" toy works on the same principle as the Minto Wheel. Experimenters have tried scaling the "Bird" device to larger sizes, and even using them as an engine to pump water. Here is a link to an artist's excellent web site showcasing a room full of very large functional Drinking Birds, designed to look just like the toy version. Be sure to check out the videos of this flock of Birds in action:

http://www.drinkingbirds.com


As part of my study of the Minto Wheel, I scoured the internet and found various web sites about the Drinking Bird (including some animated GIFs showing them do their thing)

http://www.borderschess.org/energy.htm#bird


And of course I also compiled a list of Minto Wheel links. I found these links a good while ago, so I may have missed some. Please let me know if anyone finds more that I can add to my list.

http://www.borderschess.org/energy.htm#minto

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Guru
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#7
In reply to #5

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

05/02/2007 9:50 PM

That's awesome !

Minto rocks

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Anonymous Poster
#8
In reply to #5

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

05/03/2007 10:21 AM

Thanks for the links. They are fascinating. One thing that looks interesting is a Curie Engine. Do you have any idea where gadolinium might be bought in small quantities. Is it expensive or toxic?

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Guru
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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

05/03/2007 12:14 PM

I bought some Gadolinium (Gd) recently and have really enjoyed experimenting with it. As you probably read, this metallic element has the unique property of having a Curie temperature near room temperature (17 deg C). Its magnetic attraction changes drastically over a fairly small temperature range. No doubt new inventions based on this property still await discovery.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadolinium

Gd may be slighly toxic -- don't eat it, snort it, or rub into your eyes or skin. Don't leave it where children or animals can touch it. It is mildly reactive towards water (corroding to form hydrogen gas and non-magnetic Gd hydroxide). It also slowly reacts with oxygen, so keep it sealed in a sealed container for long-term storage. A polymer or paint coating might be a good idea for chunks exposed to air and handling.

Gd is not very expensive or hard to find. I like these sources:

http://www.unitednuclear.com (where I bought mine)

http://www.smart-elements.com

If you experiment with a Curie engine, please let us know. This type of engine might not be limited by the Carnot efficiency, which applies to most heat engines like the combustion engine, Stirling engine, and Minto Wheel. So in principle, a Curie engine might exhibit an unusually high thermodynamic efficiency

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Anonymous Poster
#10
In reply to #9

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

05/03/2007 4:25 PM

Thanks for the info. These look like fascinating sites to spend some money. (I haven't seen a spinthariscope since I was a kid with a chemistry set.) I'll let you know if I have any luck building a Curie engine.

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Commentator
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#11
In reply to #8

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

05/09/2007 12:31 AM

One of the old issues of Scientific American had instructions for making a Curie engine using cigarette flints!

Might be worth looking into!

Allen

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Anonymous Poster
#16
In reply to #2

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

12/20/2008 2:10 PM

The Mother Earth News tested the wheel design by contracting with a company that already had a competing product, and the Minto Wheel failed their test. Hello? Anyone home? what did you expect? Doh!

J.R.Randall put the MEN Minto Wheel article on the net, and at the end said the reason it was disapppointing was that the pipes were too small for the tanks. I say that the tanks were also too large for themselves.

I wish to add that they found "250+ psi SCARY, so they used R-11," and expected the wheel to perform? Duhhh... I noticed they had a MIG welder in the pic of the big wheel, and there was a gas bottle on the welder (type TW?) that has a market standard of 2100 psi on delivery at std temp. But 250 psi scared them? They didn't see the bomb they were phogographing? When we saw that, my wife and I decided not to subscribe, and we never did.

Try this: Make a wheel 10 ft dia, and connect w/tubes of dia 0.25 that of the tanks. Have the tank's length =< 4 x dia. fill the tank set with enouigh gas to fill ONE tank and the tube between them, leaving the other tank empty. As the bottom tank heats, the fluid will IMMEDIATELY flow into the top tank. I built one in 1977 or so, and the numbers were encouraging, but no one cared(s). I have a photo of the wheel.

Anonymous Siggy.

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Guru
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#17
In reply to #16

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

12/22/2008 6:38 PM

Hi Siggy,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Please post the photograph. Better yet, join the MintoWheel Yahoo group, and post it there:

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/MintoWheel/

I think that Mother Earth's wheel failed because they used the wrong fluid, and they made it too large. R11 has a very high vapor pressure at room temperature, which then required an impractically high temperature for the heat source (thus also creating high pressures). Using a large diameter further worsened the situation. Having multilple smaller wheels on the same axle would work much better. Use dichloromethane, methanol, or petroleum distillate (60oC b.p. fraction) as the working fluid.

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#3

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

05/01/2007 5:11 PM

Thanks for putting this forward Svengali. For me it is timely as I need a SOLAR MOTOR to move my new and improved DHW collector array. This is serendipity.

I will post pics as mine evolves.


Snowboy

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Guru
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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

05/02/2007 2:54 AM

Cool, I'd like to hear about that as well.

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Guru
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#6
In reply to #3

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

05/02/2007 1:59 PM

You're very welcome. I'm really glad that people appreciate the potential of this simple eco-friendly energy technology. It should mesh very nicely with solar water heaters. Please do let us know about your solar energy experiments, and of course about your experiences building a Minto Wheel. Hopefully you will join the MintoWheel Yahoo group, and share your results there (where you can also find much useful advice so that you don't have to "re-invent the wheel").

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Guru
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#12

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

08/30/2007 8:58 PM

Video of a working Minto Wheel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fUlKBH1sY8

Here is a YouTube video of newer smoother prototype designed and constructed by the same person

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=bs_OtCsDJoY

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

10/19/2007 11:10 PM

Thanks for the support of my work.

I'm kind of hoping this old technology gets a renaissance of sorts.

There's a lot of potential in a maintenance free engine that runs of such low heat gradients. I know that there might be more efficiency from another thermodynamic cycle such as the Kalina Cycle, but doing away with turbines and heat exchangers makes it attractive on other levels.

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Guru
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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

10/20/2007 1:38 PM

Hello Helioechidna,

Welcome to CR4, glad to have you here. I started this thread about 5 months ago, so there may not be many members still subscribed (hello? is anybody in there?). This thread had enthusiastic replies, so I imagine that CR4 members would be interested in any additional news or insight that you might provide. Please feel free to start a new thread about your heat engine.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Minto Wheel Resurrected

01/02/2008 10:01 PM

hi,

yes i just checked into it. from another link.

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Anonymous Poster (4); artbyjoe (1); Helioechidna (1); Kris (2); Locksmith Al (1); PlbMak (1); snowboy (1); svengali (6)

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