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Author Topic: Anybody working on dust powered engines?  (Read 1572 times)

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Offline mesquite buckeye

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Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« on: November 29, 2015, 12:48:07 pm »
I was visiting the technology section of the Smithsonian probably close to 40 years ago where they had a dust powered engine. This thing was like a hundred years old, but apparently it worked. Basically worked on a dust explosion principle. Standard reciprocating piston with a notched circular disc that dumped the dust into the top. I can see lots of problems with running an engine with dust, but I think you could infiltrate the dust with nitrogen or some other really cheap gas so the explosion/fire danger could be minimized. Seems like if you could get this to work it would be a lot more simple to start up and run than a gasifier type engine. Those of us producing lots of sawdust would be in a perfect position to benefit from such technology.

Any thoughts? ;D ??? ??? ???
Manage 80 acre tree farm in central Missouri and Mesquite timber and about a gozillion saguaros in Arizona.

Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2015, 12:57:43 pm »
Sounds interesting but I wonder if it needs a particular size dust particles to work.  I know my dust is not uniform!  What type of vehicle or motor are you thinking of powering?  Tractor, generator, ??
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Offline mesquite buckeye

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2015, 01:23:48 pm »
Nothing in particular. I'm thinking it would be fun just to get an engine spinning at this point.

I think the dust would probably need to be size sorted and probably ground to get a uniform, fine consistency. I'm sure there would be a host of problems to solve to make it work. I think the original was designed to run on coal dust, which is brittle and easy to grind. I'm sure wood dust would work if you could make the right size and get it dry enough.
Manage 80 acre tree farm in central Missouri and Mesquite timber and about a gozillion saguaros in Arizona.

Offline Ianab

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2015, 02:04:03 pm »
Laws of physics say it should work. Fine dust mixed with air burns quite well.  :D

The practical considerations like getting suitable dust, consistent dust flow and not blowing yourself up might be why it hasn't caught on?

Steam or Sterling cycle heat engine would seem more flexible and practical?
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Offline starmac

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2015, 02:38:28 pm »
It seems like the motors would have a short life span.
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Offline mesquite buckeye

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2015, 06:35:49 pm »
Maybe coat the pistons with high temperature teflon. You could also up its efficiency with a turbocharger. If you want to really go nuts, use oxygen enriched air.

I bet someone with a machinist's mind and a knack for putting together pieces from different sources could make this thing work.

Or maybe mount the piston upside down so that the crud doesn't have a gravity assist. There is that small problem with the oil sitting on the piston bottom. :(

Maybe a two cycle...
Manage 80 acre tree farm in central Missouri and Mesquite timber and about a gozillion saguaros in Arizona.

Offline Paul_H

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2015, 11:46:15 pm »
I built one and hooked it to a vacuum cleaner and it's been running non stop since April 1st 1998  :P
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Offline Brucer

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2015, 01:28:19 am »
Industrial diesels and locomotive diesels have been run (successfully) using coal dust for fuel.

Your dust has to be very fine (i.e., a powder) so it will burn completely within the cylinder.
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Offline mesquite buckeye

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2015, 02:43:55 am »
I built one and hooked it to a vacuum cleaner and it's been running non stop since April 1st 1998  :P

Got a picture? ??? ??? ???
Manage 80 acre tree farm in central Missouri and Mesquite timber and about a gozillion saguaros in Arizona.

Offline mesquite buckeye

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2015, 02:44:41 am »
Industrial diesels and locomotive diesels have been run (successfully) using coal dust for fuel.

Your dust has to be very fine (i.e., a powder) so it will burn completely within the cylinder.

Do you have a reference to this??? :)
Manage 80 acre tree farm in central Missouri and Mesquite timber and about a gozillion saguaros in Arizona.

Offline Paul_H

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2015, 10:08:51 am »

Got a picture? ??? ??? ???

No,I was totally BS'ing you ;D
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Offline DMcCoy

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2015, 10:10:22 am »
I ran across this same reference with coal dust - WWll Germany maybe?   Can be done, if I remember correctly the drawback is injector abrasion.
 Edit: Nope ash content-  wood dust would also have a fair amount of ash.
Diesel engine ran on coal dust.
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2249

There is also the 6 stroke engine. using steam from waste engine heat for the extra cycle. 


Offline mesquite buckeye

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2015, 10:49:33 am »

Got a picture? ??? ??? ???

No,I was totally BS'ing you ;D

Thanks a lot, Paul, for picking on the old man. :( :( :(
First time I got burned by an
April Fool's joke in November. :snowball: :snowball: :snowball: :snowball: :snowball: :snowball: :snowball:
Manage 80 acre tree farm in central Missouri and Mesquite timber and about a gozillion saguaros in Arizona.

Offline mesquite buckeye

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2015, 10:54:22 am »
I ran across this same reference with coal dust - WWll Germany maybe?   Can be done, if I remember correctly the drawback is injector abrasion.
 Edit: Nope ash content-  wood dust would also have a fair amount of ash.
Diesel engine ran on coal dust.
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2249

There is also the 6 stroke engine. using steam from waste engine heat for the extra cycle. 



Great stuff. You might want to skip the Luddite comments, however. It seems all new technologies create resistance.
I had no idea they have been developed to that point. Diamond injector tips and ultra hard valves and piston rings. Simple easy. ;D
Manage 80 acre tree farm in central Missouri and Mesquite timber and about a gozillion saguaros in Arizona.

Offline DMcCoy

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2015, 11:33:53 am »
Interesting foot note in the ongoing WV diesel scandal.  Engineer admitted to adding diesel to gasoline to improve the efficiency tests of gasoline cars.  Diesel contains more BTU per given volume than gasoline, kerosene edit- lower(?).  It would appear from light internet searching adding 10-20% is do-able.  Don't know if this is after the engine is already warmed up and no reference about emissions being tested at same time as MPG.
So diesel as a HP increasing additive? 

Offline Brucer

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2015, 12:37:39 am »
I first heard about it from a co-worker who was interested in railroads (as a hobby) and also in how to get fine solids to flow (as a profession). He told me that German engineers studied it during WWII because they had limited access to liquid hydrocarbons. His opinion was that they would have to grind/pulverize it much finer and get rid of the ash before it would be practical.

Perhaps the best current reference is the one DMcCoy just posted.

Here's an interesting newspaper account from 100 years ago. Probably only of historical interest. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1893&dat=19281127&id=kPMoAAAAIBAJ&sjid=29MEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5236,3682431&hl=en
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Offline DMcCoy

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2015, 08:01:08 am »
Brucer- Interesting article.  Deals with the ash issue directly. 
I suspect at times that the convenience and adequate abundance of liquid fuels caused a great many of these inventions to get lost. We consume an insane amount of FF every year.

Offline r.man

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Re: Anybody working on dust powered engines?
« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2015, 08:54:06 am »
I think that a full size mill would produce usable wood dust but it is airborne and settles gradually on all surfaces. I did tour a mill two years ago that had an expensive fines collection system, complete with explosion and fire suppression capabilities, so I expect they would have a supply of engine dust on hand. As to the danger of working with it think about gasoline and propane for volatility.
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