We just got back from the 2010 Steam Automobile Club of America (SACA) meeting. I presented a brief talk on Open Source Ecology’s proposal for the scalable, steam-powered, electrical generator that we discussed in a former post. This talk puts the power generator in context with other OSE product ecologies. It also discusses further development of mobile power units, such as replacing the gasoline engine in the Power Cube of LifeTrac with a steam-power version.
By the way, that was Harry Shoell in the audience (commenting that we can burn clippings right from our lawn) – the lead developer from Cyclone Technologies. Cyclone Technologies has already developed a supercritical, water-lubricated steam engine that has beat the gasoline engine in efficiency. It’s a clean engine that can run on any fuel, and it uses water instead of engine oil for lubrication. Yes, steam power is for real, and according to the Cyclone group, it may be the next 100 years of propulsion, just as the internal combustion engine has taken over the last 100 years. For those unfamiliar with steam power, this is indeed a resounding wakeup call. We will report on his and other SACA highlights in the next posts, including an interview with Harry Schoell.
Back to our electrical generator proposition – consensus within the audience – of those who actually know what they are talking about – was that our design for the steam-powered generator requires some modifications. SACA is a goldmine of expert experience – the key to our open source project.
We are teaming up with Karl Petersen in particular, SACA Bulletin editor, and the guy who I read about a few years ago in the Educator Buggy steam project. He has about 5 decades of experience with light steam power. We discussed an open source project to take the scalable steam electric generator to full product release by next year, with a first prototype forthcoming early next year. Karl will lead the design work, and he will produce the CAD and fabrication drawings. Our goal is on the order of $500 in materials cost for a 1 kW generator, with favorable cost scaling for higher power. Listen to our introduction:
We are going to crowd-fund this effort, and tap the entire gold mine of expertise from SACA. This approach has been well-received within SACA leadership. To this end, I will be going on the road for about 3 months in December – January, when the weather is cold at Factor e Farm – on a mission. The mission is to search and document the technical due-diligence to make this project happen – everything from pelletization, gasifier burners, heat exchangers, steam expanders, fabrication development, and enterprise model. Part of this will be documenting the steam knowledge of the older members of SACA, which would otherwise be lost. We look forward to initial Power Cube prototypes running on steam by end of next year.