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Old Yesterday, 09:18 AM
 
Location: The Driftless Area, WI
2,292 posts, read 808,856 times
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Just for perspective, I was interested a few yrs ago in converting a conventional ICE to burn wood gas, generated by smoldering wood under hypoxic conditions. These were used widely in Europe during WW II when gasoline was not available...I did a "Fermi Solution" (plausible estimates & calculations based on order of magnitude)…..


It turns out we would have enough LUMBER-- ie- not even counting brush, unusable wood or other biomass, to supply our automotive needs for a full century-- even without replacement of the trees.


Steam engines lost out to gasoline for economic reasons, not necessarily engineering concerns, a century ago. Gasoline was a WASTE PRODUCT of the cracking process back then and much cheaper than coal.


Once the assembly lines were set up to produce the ICE, the die was cast. To convert for a new paradigm is very expensive.

 
Old Yesterday, 09:24 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luciano700 View Post
My first guess was coal, my 2nd guess was diesel and last one was propane
Do you know what the products of combustion of coal, diesel fuel, and propane are?
 
Old Yesterday, 09:28 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecoalman View Post
I was actually joking about the coal. It would be very unsuitable for this. Take too long to get going and there is no way to turn it off other than letting it burn out.
OK, serious question only peripherally related:


Are there systems where coal is finely pulverized before combustion? It seems like it would then act more like a liquid fuel where you stop combustion quickly by simply stopping the stream of fuel. Or, by the time you engineer your coal-fired system for that, do you end up better off using a liquid fuel?
 
Old Yesterday, 09:38 AM
 
4,257 posts, read 1,826,630 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guidoLaMoto View Post
Just for perspective, I was interested a few yrs ago in converting a conventional ICE to burn wood gas, generated by smoldering wood under hypoxic conditions. These were used widely in Europe during WW II when gasoline was not available...I did a "Fermi Solution" (plausible estimates & calculations based on order of magnitude)..


It turns out we would have enough LUMBER-- ie- not even counting brush, unusable wood or other biomass, to supply our automotive needs for a full century-- even without replacement of the trees.


Steam engines lost out to gasoline for economic reasons, not necessarily engineering concerns, a century ago. Gasoline was a WASTE PRODUCT of the cracking process back then and much cheaper than coal.


Once the assembly lines were set up to produce the ICE, the die was cast. To convert for a new paradigm is very expensive.
Well, there are engineering concerns as well.


1) Instant availability of power vs. needing to "get up steam". Yes, there are fast steam generators, but it's my understanding that they still don't compare to twisting the ignition key and going.


2) You need to carry a supply of water as well as fuel. Even with high quality condensing, I expect you have to use some make-up water.


3) With an ICE, you have an engine, cooling system, and multi-speed transmission. With a steam engine, you still have the engine, you probably have to have some sort of cooling system, but it may be less complex; you don't need the multi-speed transmission, but you have to add a burner, boiler, and all the controls for that. So you've got roughly the same amount of stuff for probably a lower total power efficiency.


4) I am not sure, but I think the Carnot cycle high temp. in a steam engine would be the temperature at which the steam enters the cylinder or turbine. I assume that would be something like 400F or lower, depending on the design pressures of the system. I think the Carnot cycle high temp. on an ICE is something like 1500F. The Carnot cycle low temp of a steam engine would be (I think) basically the atmospheric temp if you're using 100% condensing, so let's say 70F, for a delta of 330F. I don't know what the Carnot cycle low temperature for an ICE with turbochargers is, but as long as it's lower than 1200F it seems to me that you're ahead from the beginning. Let's face it, Carnot cycle efficiency is the 900 pound gorilla in the room that drives heat cycle efficiencies.


"Assembly lines" are irrelevant to the question. It takes a couple years to set up an engine assembly line. Believe me, if steam power offered commercial advantages for automobiles, the capital to set up assembly lines would be found so fast it would make your head spin.
 
Old Yesterday, 09:41 AM
 
38,094 posts, read 39,442,399 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
Are there systems where coal is finely pulverized before combustion?

I believe so in power plants but I'm only really familiar with the technology in the heating industry. The smallest stokers which are automatically fed and have forced combustion air may only have a few pounds of coal burning but it will not self extinguish for at least 20 minutes. There is also the process for converting coal to diesel and last I checked it was $50/barrel equivalent. Investment is risky proposition though.


Quote:
Or, by the time you engineer your coal-fired system for that, do you end up better off using a liquid fuel?
I would suggest you are better off letting coal do what coal does best, sustained and uninterrupted heat from it's natural state. Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole just decreases the efficiency. This is also why I would be highly skeptical of steam, why make steam when you can directly combust the fuel in the engine. Not sure how the efficiency compares but my intuition says the combustion engine that is directly using the fuel is more efficient.
 
Old Yesterday, 09:42 AM
 
2,843 posts, read 2,892,171 times
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Honestly, why didn't we just stick with steam cars and find a way to have innovated the technology?


Why don't we just make all wheels square ? Think of all the fossil fuel we'd not be burning because it would make travel very, very slow. Same logic as using steam to save energy.
 
Old Yesterday, 09:44 AM
 
Location: Round Rock, TX
2,345 posts, read 660,460 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
Do you know what the products of combustion of coal, diesel fuel, and propane are?
Could you clarify please? Do you mean the properties?
 
Old Yesterday, 09:47 AM
 
Location: Metro Detroit Michigan
3,493 posts, read 951,254 times
Reputation: 2817
It’s not going to happen so let’s just drop this you can all debate till you’re blue in the face. And if the op really wants to know than just sit down and write a letter to all the automakers and ask them and see what response you get from them. That way you will have your answer right from the experts who design and build vehicles for a living.
 
Old Yesterday, 09:49 AM
 
4,257 posts, read 1,826,630 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luciano700 View Post
Could you clarify please? Do you mean the properties?
When you set coal, or propane, or diesel fuel on FIRE, what are the results? (Other than heat)
 
Old Yesterday, 09:52 AM
 
4,257 posts, read 1,826,630 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nodpete View Post
Honestly, why didn't we just stick with steam cars and find a way to have innovated the technology?


Why don't we just make all wheels square ? Think of all the fossil fuel we'd not be burning because it would make travel very, very slow. Same logic as using steam to save energy.
I think we should just power automobiles with perpetual motion engines. It just takes some innovation on the technology.
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