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    How to find a small steam engine for electronics project?

    Hello,

    I don't know if this is the right place for my question,

    I want to prepare the hardware parts for electronics project dealing with solar energy.

    There are different routes for this project:

    1. Use solar cells and just connect them to rechargeable lithium batteries with DC regulators.
    2. Demonstrate one of the other technologies; like, parabolic troughs, concentrated tower or heliostat.


    My questions are:
    1. Which is the best route to go with, in electronics diploma project or in real life?
    2. If I needed a steam engine, a small one for the project, where to find it? I didn't find it on Aliexpress.

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    Re: How to find a small steam engine for electronics project?

    Do you want a burner-fired steam engine with a direct or belt-driven generator, or a direct-solar-concentrator / hot-working-fluid powered one ??

    Proof of concept, or more than a few Watts ??

    A few moments on Amazon found many options...

    But, given the eye-watering cost of the better miniature steam engines, unless you can locate a local steam enthusiast, you may do better looking at the small Stirling hot-air engines. Some are even intended as 'demonstrations' of your project, will spin a tiny generator, light some LEDs.

    The end-fired variety, where the hot bulb is readily accessible at one side, would allow switching modes between convenient fuel-burner and bulky solar concentrator.

    IMHO, to demonstrate latter, you may need to fore-go reliance on clement weather, use an inexpensive Fresnel lens plus an incandescent spot-lamp...


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    Re: How to find a small steam engine for electronics project?

    Another option would be a solar powered sterling engine if you decide to go that route. I think you can find them on eBay.


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    Re: How to find a small steam engine for electronics project?

    You could consider air motors, perhaps one with stainless
    hard parts and high temp tolerant seals (how hot is the
    steam, or working fluid?). Put it inside a pressure pot and
    you could get decent fluid recovery.


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    Re: How to find a small steam engine for electronics project?

    A demo solar project has greater impact if it makes something move. Say, a motor spinning a propeller.

    The motor needs to be extremely efficient if you intend it to run from a small photovoltaic panel.

    Or a lit bulb which heats air which spins a pinwheel overhead.

    Miniature steam engines are available for over $50. I don't think they run on electricity. Their paint and polish look so professional that it would become the centerpiece, capturing admiration away from your project. Same with a Stirling engine.


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    Re: How to find a small steam engine for electronics project?

    First of all thank you all so much for the responses and the considerable replies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nik_2213 View Post
    Do you want a burner-fired steam engine with a direct or belt-driven generator, or a direct-solar-concentrator / hot-working-fluid powered one ??
    No, I don't want something which need fire, I want similar to modern power plants which apply one of “Concentrated Solar Power” methods, I read an article which helped me to have an idea of the hierarchy for this kind of power generation which is four types:
    1. Parabolic troughs.
    2. Concentrating linear reflector systems.
    3. Dish Stirling systems.
    4. Concentrated Power Towers.


    I think Photovoltaic is not related to these four types because it doesn't use steam for its operation.

    What I want is either Photovoltaic system or one of the four types which apply certain kind of heat concentration and then heating water to get steam.

    So, if I go with solar cells then I don't need steam engine, else I would need one.

    What's the key difference to me now, is that if I got a steam engine and applying one of the four types then that would be a nice action in the project final demonstration in the college. But also al the same time I would like also to prove a theoretical point of which method is better Concentrated Solar Power or PV cells.


    Proof of concept, or more than a few Watts ??
    Yes a small project for diploma graduation.


    A few moments on Amazon found many options...
    Really :) that's nice, could you send me some links?


    But, given the eye-watering cost of the better miniature steam engines, unless you can locate a local steam enthusiast
    Yes, I don't think we have "locate a local steam enthusiast" in Saudi Arabia :)

    you may do better looking at the small Stirling hot-air engines. Some are even intended as 'demonstrations' of your project, will spin a tiny generator, light some LEDs.
    Yes I found some of these engine on aliexpress but they need burn effect to work, I need to find something which receives steam pressure and convert that to rotating speed.


    The end-fired variety, where the hot bulb is readily accessible at one side, would allow switching modes between convenient fuel-burner and bulky solar concentrator.
    Oh really! that's cool, so I guess I can disassemble the part which could contain the water, and connect that to a hose to receive the steam pressure. Would that work?

    IMHO, to demonstrate latter, you may need to fore-go reliance on clement weather, use an inexpensive Fresnel lens plus an incandescent spot-lamp...
    Thank you so much for the provided ideas, you are really helping me a lot of thinking about the project hardware. So you mean I can predict the actual project environment of the sun by the "incandescent spot-lamp"? Could that really provide some heat with the lenses?


    Quote Originally Posted by Kajunbee View Post
    Another option would be a solar powered sterling engine if you decide to go that route. I think you can find them on eBay.
    Yes, well actually the basic structure for the project; would be just solar cells, rechargeable batteries and a voltage regulator. But this project would look really simple and not entertaining in diploma final project demonstrations. So I want something more complicated and has more hardware and maybe also to simulate the operation in power plants which work completely or partially on the solar energy.

    That's why I want to involve a steam engine and also a sun tracker system would be nice too. Also I want to provide a theoretical point of the effectiveness of this project and it's more effective than PV cells or the opposite.


    Quote Originally Posted by dick_freebird View Post
    You could consider air motors, perhaps one with stainless hard parts and high temp tolerant seals (how hot is the steam, or working fluid?). Put it inside a pressure pot and you could get decent fluid recovery.
    That's a brilliant idea. Also I had a problem with the search key words :) I was search with "steam engine, generator .. etc." didn't think of "air motors".

    I found a good experiment on this YouTube video:


    That's pretty much what I want on the steam conversion to rotating speed part and also the converting rotating speed to electric energy.

    Now, I just need a sun tracker, rechargeable batteries and a voltage regulator. And the final demo design of the project.

    Quote Originally Posted by BradtheRad View Post
    A demo solar project has greater impact if it makes something move. Say, a motor spinning a propeller.

    The motor needs to be extremely efficient if you intend it to run from a small photovoltaic panel.

    Or a lit bulb which heats air which spins a pinwheel overhead.

    Miniature steam engines are available for over $50. I don't think they run on electricity. Their paint and polish look so professional that it would become the centerpiece, capturing admiration away from your project. Same with a Stirling engine.
    That's also a good idea, but I want the opposite, I want either:
    1. Develop PV system with rechargeable batteries and simulate power plants which apply this kind of solar energy conversion system.
    2. Develop on of the 4 Concentrated Solar Power methods, which requires air motors and also lenses, mirrors.

    The PV system sounds a lot easier than one of the Concentrated Solar Power methods, but I'm also considering the action of demonstration and a prove for the effectiveness of the followed methods to be the most effective in our region, as we live in Saudi Arabia, so we have a lot of sun there :) It's almost always sunny.



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    Re: How to find a small steam engine for electronics project?

    Some years ago I had considered building a small system that used freon instead of water. My inspiration was from transferring liquid freon from one tank to another. Connect a full tank to a empty tank and the pressure quickly equalizes and no liquid is transferred. Now set the empty tank in a tub of ice water and the freon starts to migrate over to the empty tank. The flow of gas from one tank to another would drive the motor. All the same basic principles just less heat needed to boil the fluid. But and idea is as far as I went with it.


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    Re: How to find a small steam engine for electronics project?

    A simple steam engine is Hero's aeolipile. Just maybe it develops enough speed and torque, so that you could attach the shaft of a small cassette motor, turning it into an electric generator.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Or it might be easier to have a stationary tank of water, generating steam which drives a turbine (or farm type windmill).

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Notice the windmill is attached to a small motor, generating electricity through wires.


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    Re: How to find a small steam engine for electronics project?

    Hi,

    Here is a toy manufacturer.
    They build small steam engines. Working models.
    https://www.wilesco.de/en

    Klaus
    Please don´t contact me via PM, because there is no time to respond to them. No friend requests. Thank you.


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    Re: How to find a small steam engine for electronics project?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kajunbee View Post
    Some years ago I had considered building a small system that used freon instead of water. My inspiration was from transferring liquid freon from one tank to another. Connect a full tank to a empty tank and the pressure quickly equalizes and no liquid is transferred. Now set the empty tank in a tub of ice water and the freon starts to migrate over to the empty tank. The flow of gas from one tank to another would drive the motor. All the same basic principles just less heat needed to boil the fluid. But and idea is as far as I went with it.
    Oh yeah I got the idea, you have two tanks. One is full of freon which a gas which you can condense by the other empty tank which is cooled by ice. Then the freon is attracted to the empty tank and so until the first tank is empty, then you close the pipes and switch the process, am I right?
    So you can take advantage of the freon reaction to the cooled tank, and drive the motor with the gas transfer pressure.

    Quote Originally Posted by BradtheRad View Post
    A simple steam engine is Hero's aeolipile. Just maybe it develops enough speed and torque, so that you could attach the shaft of a small cassette motor, turning it into an electric generator.

    Or it might be easier to have a stationary tank of water, generating steam which drives a turbine (or farm type windmill).

    Notice the windmill is attached to a small motor, generating electricity through wires.
    Yes, interesting so this is the basic principle demonstrations to how steam power generation work. Yes I understand that I've looked to videos at YouTube about Parabolic Troughs and they work and the other types of concentrated solar power methods.

    But you know, I really like to do this project in the graduation course. But I think that would get the trainees into some troubles because of the mechanical part, so today I minimized the system to normal solar cell with a sun tracker, but I still don't know if this project is ok as a diploma graduation project. I'm the trainer of the course and today I managed with them 3 basic projects as follows:
    1. 3-way traffic system with speed and red light radars.
    2. Building electricity saving power system which includes sensors; like, PIR for motion and IR for counting people in the building and air conditioning package ON/OFF system.
    3. Highways alarm system to traffic jams for people in the back so they could avoid getting into the jam and change their ways.

    I still need to find 2 more projects for the whole group. I'm still thinking of the solar power plant but I don't know what's the best for our sunny region in Saudi Arabia because one of the trainees told me that he has solar cells at his home and he doesn't need sun trackers as the system works in one position, here where I started to forget about this project.


    Quote Originally Posted by KlausST View Post
    Hi,

    Here is a toy manufacturer.
    They build small steam engines. Working models.
    https://www.wilesco.de/en

    Klaus
    Thanks, I think I can tell them to build me a custom steam engine, but I think that would cost them a fortune.



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    Re: How to find a small steam engine for electronics project?

    It seems fitting to make two projects, one for each application of solar energy: electric and heating. Both are important.
    To make a model, I picture a foot square board, and 100 or 200 small mirrors reflecting light up to a central tower. The mirrors might be made from small squares of aluminum foil, or shiny sheet metal. Each must be positioned individually, a tedious job.

    The tower can have a photovoltaic panel at top, or a metal tank carrying water.
    The panel might charge a capacitor for a few minutes, which powers a bulb for a few seconds whenever you shield the project from light.
    The water can turn to steam and drive an engine, or circulate to a heat exchanger. Etc.

    Tilt the board so that light focuses onto the tower. That is easy to adapt to any direction, rather than moving a hundred little mirrors. If you want to mimic a tracking system for each mirror, it will be more realistic but also a great deal of work.


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    Re: How to find a small steam engine for electronics project?

    Yes, that's the general idea. The main drawback is that it's a closed loop system. Water steam can just be discharged into the atmosphere so there is no back pressure. You wouldn't want to do that with freon. So your power is limited by how fast you can condense the gas.
    From what I understand it's not that solar trackers aren't needed. It's more a matter of cost and maintenance. I see that there are "fluid powered solar trackers". This might be a way to kill two birds with one stone. Although it's not steam powered it does demonstrate how heating a fluid can produce useful work. Just a thought.


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    Re: How to find a small steam engine for electronics project?

    Quote Originally Posted by BradtheRad View Post
    It seems fitting to make two projects, one for each application of solar energy: electric and heating. Both are important.
    To make a model, I picture a foot square board, and 100 or 200 small mirrors reflecting light up to a central tower. The mirrors might be made from small squares of aluminum foil, or shiny sheet metal. Each must be positioned individually, a tedious job.
    Yes, that's why I started to think away of this kind of projects. These are the projects I recommended for the students:
    1. 3-way traffic system with red light and speed radars.
    2. Power saving system in buildings.
    3. Measurement system for traffic issues and jams in highways.
    4. Greenhouse system.

    All are not complicated and work on simple control strategy.

    The tower can have a photovoltaic panel at top, or a metal tank carrying water.
    The panel might charge a capacitor for a few minutes, which powers a bulb for a few seconds whenever you shield the project from light.
    The water can turn to steam and drive an engine, or circulate to a heat exchanger. Etc.

    Tilt the board so that light focuses onto the tower. That is easy to adapt to any direction, rather than moving a hundred little mirrors. If you want to mimic a tracking system for each mirror, it will be more realistic but also a great deal of work.
    Thank you for the description idea, it should look good, but as the department is not interested in this kind of project because it need like complicated mechanical system, then I would think of more simpler projects.

    I was thinking in a hurry at the start, didn't realize how this project would be hard to do, I like it from the demonstration aspect and that what I wanted to do because it also has a good theoretical points for the description of the project at the show day, also our country has a sunny region feature. Also our country is interested in the renewable energy sources.

    But the students >> I can't evaluate their interest, because we are a technical college. This project has more technical background and it's not just electronics, it has points of electrical power generation topics.

    I'm also thinking of the effort we put in such project and how the department would appreciate this project in comparison to other electronics projects, this is something that I really want to know.

    But anyway, I would call this project a halt for now, also there are different projects I have to look for, so I have other hardware questions, I don't know if it would be OK to post it here or open a new one.



    Quote Originally Posted by Kajunbee View Post
    Yes, that's the general idea. The main drawback is that it's a closed loop system. Water steam can just be discharged into the atmosphere so there is no back pressure. You wouldn't want to do that with freon. So your power is limited by how fast you can condense the gas.
    Is it unlimited pressure with the freon? Unlike the steam pressure. What's the difference? How "discharged into the atmosphere so there is no back pressure" where it's in a closed loop, so there's no way for steam to run away? Sorry maybe not a professional question but I don't have a scientific background about this.


    From what I understand it's not that solar trackers aren't needed. It's more a matter of cost and maintenance
    OK, so you mean they aren't so efficient. But they are used in big solar power plants. So, how would I measure the effectiveness of this process?


    I see that there are "fluid powered solar trackers". This might be a way to kill two birds with one stone. Although it's not steam powered it does demonstrate how heating a fluid can produce useful work. Just a thought.
    Could you point me to links about this topic? thanks,





    ================================================== ================================================== =================

    Beside this thread which is a question of a good idea about a steam engine model for solar project.

    I have another question about sensors, can I ask it here or open a new thread?



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    Re: How to find a small steam engine for electronics project?

    Start a new thread if you wish to discuss a different project than the title of this thread. Your list of choices all are suitable topics to ask about at this forum.



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