Slam valve motor, supplying
efficient steam engines for homeowners and professional solar installers
Bringing you the
very latest in 18th century steam engine technology
About steam engines
Steam engines have a reputation for
being primitive. This is not true. Steam engines
core of coal and nuclear power plants, which generate most of the
electricity used by humanity. Solar thermal power plants,
the hermit gulch CA plant, use steam turbines to generate their power.
Co-gen systems, which enable substantial savings for
who use steam heat, provide electricity using small steam turbines.
Nuclear submarines use steam turbines, they are not
Steam turbines are and always will
be the most economical way to generate electricity from a source of
heat in sizes of a megawatt or above. Smaller turbines have
spin at high RPM and become uneconomical to operate, so piston engines
are better for smaller applications.
piston engine was until recently nearly extinct. It was
in models and antiques, to remind us of the mighty engine which powered
the industrial revolution. Until about 1900, just about all
sources of power were steam engines based on the James Watt design.
Gradually, gasoline and diesel began replacing the steam
engines. The last holdout was locomotives.
engines pull a very heavy line of cars and are rigidly linked to them.
When the train first starts moving, the engine has to put out
torque at zero RPM. Diesel has a minimum RPM it can run at,
the transmission has to allow the engine to spin while the wheels
remain fixed. Steam engines can put out torque at zero RPM
therefore don't need a transmission. In the 1950's, the
electric transmission solved this problem and the steam trains died out.
engines had a reputation for long startup times, high maintenance,
demand for water, danger, and spraying oil everywhere.
These were largely for two reasons. The long
and danger were because they lacked a water pump. This
enough water in the boiler to last for the entire trip. The
boilers were large, heavy, held a lot of very hot liquid water, and
took a long time to warm up. The danger was from boiler
the large amount of hot water would be projected at high speed causing
steam powered cars used a water pump and a much
smaller boiler and would start quickly. The smaller boilers
not project hot water when damaged, but the technology died
before this became the norm.
The second reason for the
reputation was the problem of emulsion. The non expansion
required superheated steam to get useful efficiency. The
superheated boiler required oil free water or else it would burn the
oil and generate carbon deposits. The piston would mix oil
water making a thick mixture called emulsion. The crankshaft
would be exposed to air so as to keep it away from steam and therefore
emulsion, and would throw oil everywhere. The waste steam was
generally not recirculated but was simply vented, blowing oil
everywhere and causing the engine to thirst for large amounts of fresh
water. All of this was because of the problem of separating
oil from water.
The non expansion nature of the James Watt steam
engine also gave low efficiency as compared to diesel. The
turbines are expansion motors and therefore much more efficient.
The steam engines made up for this by being able to consume
kind of fuel. However by the 1950s fuel oil was inexpensive
enough to make diesel cost effective even against coal. While
coal was cheaper, the total cost of maintenance, equipment, and fuel is
lower for diesel.
Recently, the longer lifespans of engines and
the higher cost of fuel have created a new situation where the total
cost of fuel for a vehicle over its lifespan is larger than the total
cost of the vehicle. Suddenly the engine that can run on any
of fuel can again compete with the one that only takes one kind of
fuel. Also the slam valve motor has double the energy
of the James Watt steam engine. Also our lower cost fuel is
sunlight. Using an enclosed crankcase, recirculating steam
system, and the emulsion eating flooded
tube boiler the steam engine
can compete with the gasoline engine. It offers similar
similar cost, similar maintenance needs. It wont spray oil or
require water. Also it features twice the peak torque of a