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Old 05-03-2016, 18:21   #46
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

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Originally Posted by hamburking View Post
StuM, you are so right.

But think about all the hydrogen locked into a gallon of water!
Trouble is...water don't burn.
And it takes more energy to split the water into hydrogen and oxygen than you get back when you re-combine them.

TANSTAAFL.
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Old 05-03-2016, 19:14   #47
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

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Originally Posted by Don C L View Post
...for the electric yacht? Electric motors as an auxilliary notoriously demand more stored juice than most are prepared to load, but perhaps this little jewel might be the next big (little) thing?

a free piston generator seems like it may be pretty efficient at converting fuel to electrons...
Not sure what the benefit to a boat would be.

Looks like a very simple external combustion stirling engine at best. Or an opposed two stroke at worst. Where is the power takeoff?

It will not be efficient but may be able to burn a wide range of hydrocarbon fuels.

It would need to run at a constant speed and constant load to have any hope of meeting emission standards.

No country is going to allow an explosion of small combustion engines to not meet strict emissions and noise standards.

A 25 year old design that would be well suited to yacht and electric auxilliary use would be the split cycle engine. I was involved in building and testing this and several other supposed radical new engines in the 90s.

The split cycle engine was picked up by Rockwell because the long dwell near TDC resulted in a cold exhaust. It was supposed to be applied to the stealth jeep. Which went nowhere. It's main issue was emissions due to the long dwell. It would run on any combustible liquid or gaseous fuel.

If I was introducing a new engine type for boating it would be a variant of the stirling principle.

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Old 05-03-2016, 21:07   #48
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

No power take-off, no shaft to turn, this engine's only function is to bounce the piston with magnets back and forth in the coil of copper wires to generate an electric current.
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Old 05-03-2016, 23:37   #49
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

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I am not equipped to make any judgements about the workings of the engine, but if they an shrink a 15kw generator into a 6"x2' package that would be a game changer. At a fraction the weight of a conventional diesel, and a whole lot simpler it really could launch hybrid boats into the realm of possible.
You may have stumbled across the killer app for these things.

Being able to place small high energy density motors in sealed enclosures at various places in the boat to power electric propulsion pods, rapidly recharge some of the batteries lately, and still, being developed, power high draw on demand appliances etc. could just provide everything the cruiser needs.

I'd switch from the plethora of heavy weight-aloft panels, multiple regulators, big, chunky, hot, noisy main engine and multiple small engine/generators I now have to that system in a heart beat.
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Old 06-03-2016, 05:26   #50
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

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Can reliable and long-lived go on this list?
A little early with a single prototype to claim reliability and long life.

While in theory, less complicated should be more reliable, your average IC engine is very complicated but typically provides 200-250k miles of reliable service with negligible maintenance.

The wankle (while still rotary) is a good example of this. In theory, it's simpler so it should be more reliable but even with several decades of development, it's not as reliable.
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Old 06-03-2016, 05:45   #51
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

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Fuel efficient gasoline engines get about 20% of the thermal "energy" available in the fuel. All the rest is losses, like heat, noise, and vibration. Diesel engines do a little better, achieving maybe 40% under optimum conditions. But most of the time, engines don't run at efficient speeds or optimal conditions.

A linear generator can be set to run constantly at its most efficient setting, since its making volts, not rpm. So you can have a smaller engine running efficiently, rather than a bigger engine running inefficiently.

The test model built by toyota had a thermal efficiency of 42%. And that was just the first try.

Assuming you are trying to generate electrons not mechanical work, the diesel can run that optimum 40% efficiency also. Plus it's typical to size the diesel such that it is near it's peak efficiency at cruising speed which is where most marine diesels spend the bulk of their time.

Also, I assuming this engine would put out AC current which means you would have to run it at a particular RPM(strokes per minute?). That creates the same complication as fixed RPM diesel generators running at inefficient setting except when heavily loaded.


The other major area of inefficiency in the conventional marine propulsion system is the prop. Many props have an efficiency of less than 50%. Most of the power is wasted churning up the water, not moving the boat forward. So choosing the right prop is pretty important.True but that has almost nothing to do with where the engine is getting it's power. Usually cost and hull design issues control prop size. A 60" diameter prop may be more efficient but would likely cost many times what a typical prop costs and would be difficult to fit to your average 35' boat.

Also, storing electricity in lead acid batteries is not very efficient either. Everyone knows it takes a long long time to get that last 20% of power into the battery. Driving electric motors directly from a linear generator removes that loss entirely.No more so than a standard diesel generator.

The common solution to overcoming all these energy losses is to have huge fuel tanks.
While interesting, considering this is a prototype and it doesn't appear to be new technology, I can pretty much guarantee the are major technological hurdles to overcome.

I would also be more interested if it as certified to meet the power, efficiency, etc... You see a lot of stuff hyped but once I gets to the point they have to prove the claims, stuff just disappears.
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Old 06-03-2016, 05:58   #52
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

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You may have stumbled across the killer app for these things.

Being able to place small high energy density motors in sealed enclosures at various places in the boat to power electric propulsion pods, rapidly recharge some of the batteries lately, and still, being developed, power high draw on demand appliances etc. could just provide everything the cruiser needs.

I'd switch from the plethora of heavy weight-aloft panels, multiple regulators, big, chunky, hot, noisy main engine and multiple small engine/generators I now have to that system in a heart beat.
Of course...as sailors we have the mindset of one big engine, one big generator. But these things are small and compact. You could have one forward for the winch, one aft for propulsion, one midship for battery charging, and a spare in a locker someplace....if one fails, you just replace that one whole unit. Distributed power generation solves the problem of running wires thick as your thumb from bow to stern. Multiple small units provide redundancy. And maintenance could be simply trading the entire unit, like we do for propane tanks here in canada.

You could put one in the dinghy to power an electric outboard.

Game changer?
This isn't a new "engine" its a new way of thinking.
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Old 06-03-2016, 06:04   #53
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

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Originally Posted by unclemack View Post
Looks like there could be coils around the outside of the cylinder so it could work like a shaky-shaky torch (sorry for the technical jargon) if the pistons were also magnets.

Am I right? What did I win?
Ooh, inventing is exciting!!
You get the prize!


Not "game changing", but a nice evolution of the IC engine powered generator. It skips a ton of mechanical parts -- no rods, no crankshaft, no flywheel, no rotor. This should make it lighter, more efficient, and CHEAPER, ultimately.

Very cool.
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Old 06-03-2016, 06:11   #54
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
A little early with a single prototype to claim reliability and long life.

While in theory, less complicated should be more reliable...
Well, you sure wouldn't have to replace the alternator belt, alternator, or starter. The main bearing would never fail, or any connecting rods. No transmission worries either. None of those parts exist on this new drive. Simple really is better.
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Old 06-03-2016, 06:15   #55
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
While interesting, considering this is a prototype and it doesn't appear to be new technology, I can pretty much guarantee the are major technological hurdles to overcome.

I would also be more interested if it as certified to meet the power, efficiency, etc... You see a lot of stuff hyped but once I gets to the point they have to prove the claims, stuff just disappears.
Yes, this might be just like fusion reactors and artificial intelligence that tend to be "just around the corner" for decades.

But I can not guarantee delays since at least some hurdles have become lower. We have now better magnets, and software control may have improved too, and need for light secondary power sources for electric cars has grown. I'm also not aware of any obvious or probable showstoppers.

Some numbers on the efficiency, emissions etc. of the new engines would be really interesting.
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Old 06-03-2016, 06:16   #56
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

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You get the prize!
Not "game changing", but a nice evolution of the IC engine powered generator. It skips a ton of mechanical parts -- no rods, no crankshaft, no flywheel, no rotor. This should make it lighter, more efficient, and CHEAPER, ultimately.
Lighter, more efficient, cheaper....who would want that???
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Old 06-03-2016, 06:18   #57
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

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Originally Posted by leftbrainstuff View Post
Not sure what the benefit to a boat would be.

Looks like a very simple external combustion stirling engine at best. Or an opposed two stroke at worst. Where is the power takeoff?

It will not be efficient but may be able to burn a wide range of hydrocarbon fuels.

It would need to run at a constant speed and constant load to have any hope of meeting emission standards.

No country is going to allow an explosion of small combustion engines to not meet strict emissions and noise standards.

A 25 year old design that would be well suited to yacht and electric auxilliary use would be the split cycle engine. I was involved in building and testing this and several other supposed radical new engines in the 90s.

The split cycle engine was picked up by Rockwell because the long dwell near TDC resulted in a cold exhaust. It was supposed to be applied to the stealth jeep. Which went nowhere. It's main issue was emissions due to the long dwell. It would run on any combustible liquid or gaseous fuel.

If I was introducing a new engine type for boating it would be a variant of the stirling principle.

Sent from my SM-N900T using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
Power take off is a linear alternator. These have been used for air compressors and water pumps as far back as WWII. The point is to eliminate the conversion of reciprocating power to rotary power and all of the inefficiencies coming from that.

Why do you jump to the conclusion that it is not efficient, and you don't even understand how power is taken off? In fact it will be significantly more efficient than a normal diesel engine driving an external alternator, because of the inefficiencies of conversion of reciprocal power to rotary power. They already achieving thermal efficiency levels of more than 40% at this primitive stage of development. Plus they will be significantly lighter and more compact than a normal diesel engine of the same output, because, again, of the elimination of a ton of parts.

They are being intensely developed now for electric cars. Whether we will get boat generators built on this principle, in our lifetimes, I don't know.

Further reading:

No crankshaft, no problem: Toyota's free piston engine is brilliant

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free-piston_engine
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Old 06-03-2016, 06:23   #58
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

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Power take off is a linear alternator. These have been used for air compressors and water pumps as far back as WWII. The point is to eliminate the conversion of reciprocating power to rotary power and all of the inefficiencies coming from that.
I love how the linear alternator is used as the starter as well...just beautiful.
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Old 06-03-2016, 06:28   #59
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

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But these things are small and compact. You could have one forward for the winch, one aft for propulsion, one midship for battery charging, and a spare in a locker someplace....
You still have to take care of cooling, exhaust fumes, fuel etc. It could still be better to have all the engines close to each others, and use 24V cables (or higher) to distribute the energy.
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Old 06-03-2016, 06:30   #60
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Re: Could this be a game-changer?

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I love how the linear alternator is used as the starter as well...just beautiful.
I agree -- it's really beautiful. Extreme elegance.

Wouldn't it be cool if these are sold while we're still cruising.
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