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Converting Heat to Power

12/20/2006 1:06 AM

We all agree that the combustion engine of an SUV is an awesome force to travel to the corner to get a bottle of milk.

Now, what if we could convert the heat from the engine, and the heat from the exhaust and the heat from the sun beaming down on the black paint to propel a steam engine that charges batteries that are used to drive a motor to propel the drive shaft, that causes the driver to ease off the gas pedal, and get about 10 more miles to the gallon?

Got Ideas?

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#1

Re: HEAT TO POWER

12/20/2006 8:21 AM

The steam engine would add significantly to the weight of the vehicle. This would reduce the effectiveness of the added power. Also, a further loss would occur in the conversion of the electricity generated to mechanical energy to drive the car.

There are several reasons why car manufacturers do not put solar panels on the roof of most cars - the main reason is because it is not cost effective (its cheaper to burn gasoline even at $5/gal.!)

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#4
In reply to #1

Re: HEAT TO POWER

12/20/2006 2:37 PM

I think you are correct. But do you know of any other technology that could act as a heat converter to torque? Your ideas are worthy, even if it would work better on a conventional small car?


Any suggestions?

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Anonymous Poster
#11
In reply to #1

Re: HEAT TO POWER

12/21/2006 3:32 AM

Are these imperial gallons or the smaller US gallons? The SUV would do more miles to an imperial gallon as it is bigger.

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#2

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/20/2006 10:18 AM

Why not just ride a bike to the corner?

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/20/2006 2:32 PM

I walk. But I see many people driving SUVs to the top of a hill to buy a donut at 7-Eleven.

I am seeking ideas from people who may have a solution, no matter how silly they believe it may be. This is called brainstorming. Perhaps, you have an idea, even if you think it would make a great cartoon.


Any ideas?

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/20/2006 2:58 PM

Ok, I'll bite; how about a Stirling engine?

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#7
In reply to #5

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/20/2006 5:28 PM

... ha ha ha. now how about a serious thought, even one that works.

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#16
In reply to #7

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/21/2006 11:33 AM

Stirling engines are used in submarines and thermal solar electrical generation. This is a legitimate response. Google Stirling engines and see what you come up with. I think there is a version of the Segway that uses a Stirling.

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#17
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Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/21/2006 11:43 AM

Submarines, CHP aka Combined Heat & Power, and specialized niche applications.

Add solar powered to the mix at premium expense and it is not nearly as convenient yet(?) as the ICE>

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#24
In reply to #16

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/23/2006 8:40 AM

There was a lot of early publicity to the effect that a Stirling engine would power the Segway. It didn't happen because it would be impossible to power such a device with a fuel hungry Stirling.

It was a part of the development and pre-release product hype and headline grabbing publicity!

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#10
In reply to #5

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/20/2006 11:11 PM

Dear Steve,

I am interested in importing stirling engine. Can you arrange supply.

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Kapoor - email: jinshui@vsnl.net

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#13
In reply to #10

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/21/2006 7:06 AM

Dear Tpkapoor,

No, I don't know any suppliers of a Stirling engine. Maybe someone else here knows.

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#28
In reply to #10

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/29/2006 7:06 PM

The best Stirling Engine I ever saw, was used to power Buoys at sea. It had one moving part. A simple disc fabricated from spring steel, with concentric circular corrugations. Phillips were the manufacturers.

Mounted atop the spring corrugated disk was a strong permanent magnet, as the disk vibrated up and down, the inlet and outlet valves, just opened and closed by the corrugated disc itself. The magnet induced alternating current in a coil. The only other moving part was a triple antennae affair mounted on a spring.....That we were told was to stop sea gulls 'pooping' on the light.(they were unable to land)

I am sure if you contacted the Phillips Corporation, they could advise you. We were told the Carnot Efficiency of this little beauty approached 78%. when you consider a Formula 1 racing car engine is well under 30%, that's not bad at all.

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#29
In reply to #28

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/29/2006 7:58 PM

[Quote_Alastair Carnegie]The best Stirling Engine I ever saw, was used to power Buoys at sea. It had one moving part. A simple disc fabricated from spring steel, with concentric circular corrugations. Phillips were the manufacturers.[/Quote]

The thing you describe is definitely not an Externally Fired Stirling Engine or facsimile thereof.Just because it was manufactured by "Phillips" does NOT necessarily mean that it was a Stirling engine.

The device may have been a pump of some kind, if indeed it was operating valves. Most likely it was a low power electric generator.

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#30
In reply to #29

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/29/2006 9:12 PM

Please forgive me for contradicting you Stirling Stan, but I first witnessed this device at Wellington College in 1968, at a Lecture given by the Head of Phillips Stirling Engine Research Department. He even had a plastic car Stirling engine on display, but did not fire it up. He showed us the Multi-Fuel Stirling engine developed for the Dutch Customs Fleet, Everything at that lecture was a Stirling Engine. Indeed this Diaphragm Stirling engine is heated externally, He explained both the Propane gas burner model, and the paraffin burner model, and even intimated it was under consideration for use in space with a nuclear isotope heat source such as Po-210.

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#31
In reply to #30

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/29/2006 10:22 PM

Alastair Carnegie

I stand corrected there was no intention to be offensive and you are very kind in not taking my comments so.

This type of a Stirling engine is entirely new to me and I would like to learn more concerning it and its design. Perhaps the Hargreaves (sp) could shed some light on the design.

I worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory where several of the isotope "fueled" devices were prepared for space exploration and saw a few of them prior to fueling and being encased in the thick shielding needed for ground transportation.

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#32
In reply to #31

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/29/2006 11:00 PM

The mistake was mine, my informal and unclear description of the workings and operation of this device, must have foxed you. I have often thought an array of devices like this could provide 'get-u-home' power for an electric vehicle. A few kilowatts would be sufficient. The recent Global Spec feature on parabolic glass solar heat collectors that have an internal temperature up to 400 C sound like ther could run a Stirling Engine, albeit at reduced efficiency. Stirling's Engines are most efficient at higher temperatures, the hotter the better. This vibrating diaphram idea has intrigued me, as CVD diamond can take very high temperatures with ease, and is a fabulous heat conductor as well. 5 times better than pure silver. As for permanent magnets, they get cheaper and stronger by the year.

I will do a search for details on that 'corrugated diaphram' Stirling Electric Generator for Sea Buoys. and post it if in luck.

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#6
In reply to #3

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/20/2006 3:18 PM

Sure, trade in that SUV for a car that gets 10 more mph. Ride a scooter. Get an electric car and charge it from solar.

The amount of heat that you will generate in a one block trip is negligible. Any heat conversion scheme will only be efficient for long trips, on short trips the heat is absorbed by the metal casing of the engine.

You can certainly generate steam off the heat from a hot engine, you can utilize thermovoltaic cells like they use in space craft. You can park on a hill and use donkeys to pull your car up the hill and then coast down.


None of these things will be as effective as driving a truly fuel efficient vehicle.

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/20/2006 5:35 PM

...okay, let us assume we are talking long trips, hot engine block and averaging 40 mph. (donkey crap might be a source of methane gas...) think outside the box and make this SUV go using less gasoline.

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#9

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/20/2006 11:07 PM

Can you let me know from where I can get SUV engine? We can cooperate with each other for developing good business.

Regards

Kapoor - Email : jinshui@vsnl.net

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Anonymous Poster
#12
In reply to #9

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/21/2006 5:44 AM

Dear kapoor ,, you seems actively seeking some new ideas of mechanical motion driven by new source of power .... what about concentraiting sun rays into tube pipe which makes steam that drive the power ,, could be an idea for boats engine...

wamy

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#14

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/21/2006 7:49 AM

I've been fascinated by thermoelectric generators though I know nothing more then you can find here: http://www.hi-z.com/

http://www.hi-z.com/websit07.htm This guy claims to generate 1kw from the heat on his rigs exhaust. It says he is freeing up 3-5HP at the alternator. But the panels used would price in close to $9000 as well.

I thought of getting some to allow my Pellet stove to power itself. With all the panels necessary it would cost over $1500. The payback would be impractical. This guys 500lb potato battery appears to be the better solution. http://latteier.com/potato/

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#18
In reply to #14

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/21/2006 3:50 PM

Thermoelectric Peltier devices are hopelessly inefficient, especially when used to try and extract power from exhaust heat. They will waste more power due to the increased car's weight than they will ever generate. They make as much sense as trying to use potatoes as a 500lb 5V 4mA battery bank.

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#15

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/21/2006 8:41 AM

Why not use a Stirling engine or engines for direct conversion of heat to mechanical power output to drive the generator? This does away with the multitude of problems that are inherent with a mobile steam power plant system.

The Stirling engine is intriguingly simple in concept and exceedingly difficult to execute as a real world efficient means of converting heat to mechanical and/or electrical output. Still better, though than attempting to combine a multiplicity of various temperature heat sources to run a boiler.

Enter Thermodynamics and the Carnot engine which predicts and limits the maximum amount of power that can be obtained by ANY engine or system to produce power between any two heat source/sink pairs. The closer the two temperatures are to each other on the ABSOLUTE scale(s), the less output that can be realized.

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#19

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/21/2006 4:26 PM

There are several ways to make the car or SUV more efficient and some are already being developed. One is the hybrid vehicle, where the ICE works continuously, and therefore more efficiently, generating electricity, which propels the wheels through one or more electric motors, charging a battery at the same time for short, engine off, non-polluting travel in congested areas.

Another idea is regenerative braking, where, instead of merely using friction to convert kinetic energy into wasted heat and vibration, brakes are actually converting kinetic energy of the vehicle into electric power via generators on the axles, which then charge the battery. If coupled with a hybrid vehicle, this regenerative energy then is used to propel the car forward, therefore increasing efficiency.

Another form of regenerative braking is purely mechanical. When slowing the car a large flywheel is engaged and kinetic energy of the vehicle is transferred to the flywheel, speeding it up. On resuming forward motion, kinetic energy is transfered back to the drive axle from the flywheel, slowing it down, but assisting the motor to propel the car. To my knowledge these systems, with the possibility of some electrical regeneration, have not reached production vehicles yet. Perhaps these systems have come closer to reality with the emergence of Continuously Variable Transmissions, which is the key to storing and using flywheel energy.

Solar cells are still VERY expensive and mainly relegated to trickle charging and topping off of electric batteries during long periods of unuse. This is important because all batteries have some amount of discharge even when unconnected (shelf life). Even more so during cold weather. Solar energy is also unreliable as a primary energy source in many parts of the country and at certain times of the year due to cloud cover and storm activity.

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/21/2006 5:59 PM

Dear STL Engineer,

Finally, thank you...answers I can use.

I like the flywheel ideas, and braking-reduction by generators. I am going to brainstorm for a while, and then write back to you!

ouch! the ideas are coming like lightening and causing involuntary muscle movements already!!

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#23
In reply to #19

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/22/2006 11:10 PM

...I have not forgotten you....It's Christmas and lots-o-stuff to do....hang in there!


Merry Christmas!

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Anonymous Poster
#21

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/22/2006 5:39 AM

Use imperial gallons instead of US ones.

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#22
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Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/22/2006 11:09 PM

...whatever volume of measure you use, the SUV engine burns fuel at the same rate. we must be consistent to compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges, or the purpose of talking and communicating is moot.

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#25

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/26/2006 10:34 AM

Did any of you know about what Crower is working on? Check this outhttp://www.autoweek.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060227/FREE/302270007/1023/THISWEEKSISSUE

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#26
In reply to #25

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/26/2006 2:04 PM

Thank you, Crower is on the right track. He is attacking the problem with his expansive experience and know-how and has obtained a patent. Although, he only has a prototype at this point, he is very very close to solving the problem. I think he is the answer to this blog.

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#27

Re: Converting Heat to Power

12/26/2006 2:56 PM

Hmmmm..... a revolutionary new internal combustion engine. It will make gasoline and diesel engines much more efficient, reducing the costs of operating petroleum-based fuel-burning internal combustion engines. It will also burn much cleaner, with less wasted hydrocarbons, and run cooler for less NOx pollutants. Great! Fantastic!

In the short run, it could even lessen our dependence on foreign oil. However, this is a double-edged sword. While making petroleum-based fuels less costly to use, there will also be less pressure to develop alternative energy and equipment to use them, specifically hydrogen, battery electric and solar powered vehicles, and the infrastructure to support them. Economics will dictate that these efforts will be put on the back burner. Oh, sure, basic R&D will continue, but the development efforts to turn experimental vehicles into production vehicles will surely abate, as vehicle makers tool up to produce Crower Cycle engines, which could possibly be the main vehicle power plant of the next 100 years. I guess we will be saddling our grandchildren or great-grandchildren with the dilemma of dwindling oil resources and prospective conversion of our transportation system, instead of our children.

Of course, the article said nothing about greenhouse gas production, particularly CO and CO2. If less gasoline is burned, will there be less carbon in the atmosphere? Probably not much, because even the most efficient utilization of hydrocarbon fuels will still result in production of CO2 gas in great quantities. If fuels costs (per mile) go down, consumption will go up and we will be back to square one! There will be less incentive to use mass transportation, long-distance road travel will become more popular for vacations, big SUV's and RV's will become more popular again, business travel will probably increase. All these are probably good for the economy in the short run, but bad for global warming and petroleum dependence.

I know I will probably get flamed for this, as nobody likes a naysayer. "Don't rain on our parade!"

My motto (well one of them anyway) is: "Every Silver Lining has a Cloud!"

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