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Old 22-04-2006, 18:09   #1
Kai Nui
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New engine design

I posted a rhetorical question in another thread, but after some thought, I have decided it deserves an answer. We are living in troubled times. The cost of fuel is one of the most widespread of the troubles we all have on our minds. Whether it is the financial impact, or the environmental impact that concerns you the most, it is clear to everyone that there is a need to come up with a different means to move us from place to place. As sailors, we rely on the wind, but there are times where the wind is not enough.
Recently, I heard a study that stated a large group of diverse minds is far more effective than a small group of experts. Since we have a large group of diverse minds on this forum, it stands to reason that we might accomplish something where corporate America has failed.
The question is simple. Design a form of propulsion that does not rely on fossil fuel, and is efficient enough, inexpensive enough and reliable enough to propell a boat. Even if we are able to come up with an idea to improve the efficiency of a diesel engine, this will be a success.
Crazy idea? Maybe, but what the heck. Throw some ideas out there.
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Old 22-04-2006, 18:17   #2
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How about hydrogen power?

I don't know enough about the technology behind it. But, I did hear that the automotive industry has looked into it?

Fusion!! Nobody could afford that kind of technology?

We're either back to burning coal or steam power. If we stop using diesel or gas to power our sailboats!!
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Old 22-04-2006, 18:22   #3
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simple,
A diesel engine run on WVO or RME, what else could be better?
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Old 22-04-2006, 18:25   #4
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Never Monday!!!

Everybody in this forum don't know what (WVO or RME) mean. You mind retyping what you just said?
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Old 22-04-2006, 18:28   #5
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K, Still too hard to store, and too hard to come by. Not that this could not, or will not change. As for coal, and steam, coal has potential with some of the newer technology but again, is a limited resource. At the boat show, there was a company selling a methane generater for $4000 that produces 4 amps at 12v dc. The liquid methane lasts 3.5 days for about $5 of methane. This translates to approx $1 per Kwh. In contrast to a small diesel genset that costs about $.50 per Kwh, and the initial cost of the diesel genset is about 25% of the methane generater. I am thinking more along the lines of harnessing something that is already there such as electrolysis. Using sea water, and metal to generate small currents that could be stored and used for electric propulsion.
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Old 22-04-2006, 18:30   #6
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Run one of Rudolph Diesels engines on vegetable oil (SVO) straight vegetable oil, (WVO) waste vegetable oil, (RME) Rapeseed metheyl esters also comonly known as Biodiesel
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Old 22-04-2006, 18:33   #7
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Never Monday, Alternative fuels are a definite option, but efficiency needs to be increased. Even Bio is expensive to buy, and an engine burning a gallon an hour is going to continue to be costly. How can a traditional diesel be modified to produce the same power, but burn only a quart an hour?
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Old 22-04-2006, 18:35   #8
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Yeah.

Now where back to Bio-Diesel!!

Now that has some potential!!

The methane idea. I like that one even better!!

So if you're underway. And crossing the Pacific for example. One week supply is $10.00. And a month is $40.00. That's not bad, Kai? :cubalibre

Do you have any info from the boat show. On this company and it's technology? Please post it!!!
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Old 22-04-2006, 18:38   #9
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The only way hydrogen is currently feasible is with nuclear power. Build a bunch of Nukes and use the excess generating capacity to break down water. Other than that, it costs more to generate hydrogen than the energy available from the hydrogen.

Actually utilizing more nuclear power is something that's way overdue. It's the only viable current technology that doesn't produce greenhouse gases. The waste material is a no brainer if all the anti nuke nuts would just shut up. There is even technology that is in the development stage that wouldn't produce any long term radiological waste. Until some people get over their irrational fear of Nuclear power, people better quit bitching about fossil fuels. We are going to have to pay the cost at the pump and in our atmosphere.

The 100 mpg caburetor or what have you is a myth in the minds of the Black Helocopter Crowd. The only current way to increase mileage is to reduce weight, aerodynamic drag, and use more diesels. Hybrids don't produce much, if any, better mileage than a diesel and diesels do it without the waste problems of all those batteries. Technology is already here to significantly reduce fuel consumption, unfortunately, Mercedes and VW are the only companies offering us the option. Despite producing diesel autos for all the other markets, the auto manufacturers aren't making them available here and the stupid smog regulations don't allow us to retrofit them into our existing autos.

Solutions are out there, it's just whether we will support the technology with out dollars.

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Old 22-04-2006, 18:43   #10
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K, look at the numbers. That $40 will run a small refer unit for about a month, but nothing else. No instruments, no lights. Nothing. And obtaining liquid methane? Try that in Turtle Bay.
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Old 22-04-2006, 18:50   #11
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Peter, I do not disagree with your general point, but nuclear power is not really practical on such a small scale as a private vessel. You can say the 100mpg carb is a myth, but consider the fact that cars have been getting 50mpg since the 1950's. No power? Drive a Geo Metro. Lots of get up and go. Granted, it does have reduced weight compared to a Chevy Suburban, but it is possible, with current technology, to produce engines that will run this efficiency. Diesel is a very efficient fuel. Friction is definitely a major factor, so how could the traditional diesel engine be modified to eliminate friction?
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Old 22-04-2006, 19:07   #12
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Heres a thought,
Use the galvanic curent you were mentioning to break down water into H and O2. Then you can run an a diesel on H thru foging after a traditional atartup, kind like the buses are doing.
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Old 22-04-2006, 19:12   #13
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Now, that is what I am talking about. I wonder how big the galvanic plates would need to be? Also, what sort of apperatus would be needed to collect the H? Although this is going back into the hydragyn technology, but having the ability to use seawater to generate it makes it a little more practical.
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Old 22-04-2006, 19:25   #14
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CaptainK, the company running the hydrogen generator is Mastervolt. They apparently convert the methane to hydrogen. The problem is it is a very ineficient process as has been mentioned.

I like the idea of using the sea as an electrolyte for a battery process. Perhaps we could each tow an old ship behind us using electrical cable for the towline, and somehow tap in to the electrical potential...nah...

Phil
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Old 22-04-2006, 19:35   #15
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K-N,

If you can solve this problem, you will also have the answer to your "How can I make a living cruising without really putting out much effort?" thread.

Good luck. I'll be the first one in line when you go to market.

P.S. I don't think Peter is advocating small nuclear reactors on private yachts. His point was that the only way to produce hydrogen inexpensively is to use the excess capacity of a nuclear plant (it's running anyway) to break the hydrogen-oxygen bond of water. The product (H) would then have to be transferred to your vessel, via swapping out tanks a la buying propane, or a dockside "filling station."

He also is suggesting that a big step forward in our national energy policy would be to get over the paralyzing fear of Three Mile Island (1979) and begin building nuclear power plants again, an idea with which I wholeheartedy agree.
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