This page is a diary about our effort to build a steam powered 'backup generator' to charge our batteries. For the most part we have all the power we could ever need from our small 600 Watt solar array and our 20' diameter wind turbine, but on occasion I do need to run a generator and I always figured that a steam engine would be the most fun, plus... I don't need to rely on petroleum - I have lots of wood all around me!
This project has moved forward slowly over the course of a year as we've gathered all the parts required. The engine is a 1903 C&BC 6 horsepower steam engine. I bought it at auction nearby (stole it) for less than 150. It's in very good shape, I believe it's been rebuilt and never run since. The boiler we got about a year later. I'm guessing it to be about a 4hp boiler. It was made by 'The Look Out boiler company' in 1940. It seems to be in good condition. First step was to hydrostatically test the boiler. We filled it all the way to the top (actually above the top because we put pipes above the boiler) with water, and then put 150PSI air pressure to it and looked for leaks. It held up well. The boiler is only rated for 100PSI and we'll run it a bit below that so we have some safety factor.
Pictured above are most of the other bits we need. A steam whistle is a must - this whistle is an 1880's Crane whistle. We also have a 3/4\" Penberthy injector. The injector uses steam to inject hot water into the boiler when running. Also pictured above are two drip oilers to keep the crosshead lubricated, a steam gage and a check valve to sit between the injector and the boiler. Of course lots of other valves, pipes etc... are required. Critical parts not pictured are the pop off valve (the pop off valve is a safety that opens should the boiler get over 100PSI) and the lubricator for the engine that injects oil into the steam line and keeps the cylinder lubricated.
Our first test was to fit one of our 10' diameter wind turbines to the engine. This alternator is approx 50% efficient at 1000 Watts output. With this setup we could easily run at 1KW output - knowing full well that the alternator was also dissipating 1000 Watts of heat in the stator. So while it wasn't terribly efficient it was a fun test and I felt confident that with a larger alternator we could easily have 1500 Watts continuous output. With this alternator on it I could generate about 1KWH with 60 pounds of lodgepole pine as fuel. Not bad I didn't think...
Once the band is around the magnet rotors we put a wooden 'island' in the middle and pour a mixture of vinyl ester, ATH, and chopped fiberglass into the rotor right up to the top of the stainless band. Pictured above is a finished magnet rotor bolted to a trailer hub.This is the same Dexter 81-9A trailer hub we use on the 10' diameter wind turbines. For the steam engine, I had to knock out the bearing races and bore out the inner diameter so it would fit the shaft of the engine.
It takes about 40 minutes to go from a cold boiler to 80 pounds of steam, which is where I like to run this. Pictured above the engine is running with the governor on top. In my application, the governor is not really required because the alternator does keep a constant load on the engine. Should the alternator become disconnected in any way though, the governor would keep the engine from overspeeding.
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Since the market introduction of steam power plants with ultra-super critical steam conditions 20 years ago the majority of projects has mainly been on units larger than 600 MW. For these, the applied turbo sets consist of a high pressure and a medium pressure expansion arranged in separate turbine casings.
Resulting from the recently introduced financing guidelines for coal-fired steam power plants, super critical and ultra-super critical steam parameters also become more interesting for applications with smaller power output. To address this market, Siemens Energy introduced a combined high- and intermediate pressure turbine considering super critical steam conditions in order to provide a cost effective solution including the lower output range from 250 to 500 MW.
Steam and combustion turbines can be operated as stand-alone generators in a single-cycle or combined in a sequential combined-cycle. Combined-cycle systems use combustion gases from one turbine to generate more electricity in another turbine. Most combined-cycle systems have separate generators for each turbine. In single-shaft combined cycle systems, both turbines may drive a single generator. Learn more about different types of combined-cycle power plants. In 2021, combined-cycle power plants supplied about 33% of U.S. net electricity generation.
Combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plants, which may be referred to as cogenerators, use the heat that is not directly converted to electricity in a steam turbine, combustion turbine, or an internal combustion engine generator for industrial process heat or for space and water heating. Most of the largest CHP plants in the United States are at industrial facilities such as pulp and paper mills, but they are also used at many colleges, universities, and government facilities. CHP and combined-cycle power plants are among the most efficient ways to convert a combustible fuel into useful energy.
Hydroelectric turbines use the force of moving water to spin turbine blades to power a generator. Most hydroelectric power plants use water stored in a reservoir or diverted from a river or stream. These conventional hydroelectric power plants accounted for about 6% of U.S. electricity generation in 2021. Pumped-storage hydropower plants use the same types of hydro turbines that conventional hydropower plants use, but they are considered electricity storage systems (see below). Other types of hydroelectric turbines called hydrokinetic turbines are used in tidal power and wave power systems. Learn more about different types of hydroelectric turbines. Wind turbines use the power in wind to move the blades of a rotor to power a generator. There are two general types of wind turbines: horizontal axis (the most common) and vertical-axis turbines. Wind turbines were the source of about 9% of U.S. electricity generation in 2021.
There are many different types of electricity generators that do not use turbines to generate electricity. The most common in use today are solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and internal combustion engines.
Internal combustion engines, such as diesel engines, are used all around the world for electricity generation including in many remote villages in Alaska. They are also widely used for mobile power supply at construction sites and for emergency or backup power supply for buildings and power plants. Diesel-engine generators can use a variety of fuels including petroleum diesel, biomass-based liquid fuels and biogas, natural gas, and propane. Small internal combustion engine generators fueled with gasoline, natural gas, or propane are commonly used by construction crews and tradespeople and for emergency power supply for homes.
Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Form EIA-923 Power Plant Operations Report, 2021Note: Sum of subtotals may not equal totals because of independent rounding of individual data series.1Includes generators at power plants with at least one megawatt electric generation capacity.2Natural gas is the main energy source (99%) for combined-cycle power plants.3Other sources include internal combustion engines, fuel cells, and binary-cycle turbines.4Storage systems include hydro-pumped storage, electrochemical batteries, compressed-air storage, and flywheels. Generation from storage systems is netted out of total annual electricity generation to avoid double counting of energy storage charging sources.
Another impressive gadget at transforming clothes, our experts praised the sleek design of this steam generator iron, along with its reliable, drip-free steam function, complete with a trigger lock so you can keep the steam on without adding any pressure on your hands. Plus, on test it proved economical with water, producing lots of steam without using up its tank quickly.
This is an affordable steam generator iron that performs well beyond its price tag, producing the quickest crease removal on test; our nylon slip was done in 24 seconds, while our linen trousers and both our polycotton and cotton shirts were pristine in under 30 seconds, too.
It struggled to reach a high heat on its lowest setting though and needed time to reheat to keep up its steam output, making it better suited to ironing smaller batches of clothes. There was no dripping, and our experts praised its compact yet robust design, clear instructions and selection of three steam settings for more tailored ironing.
A steam turbine is a machine that extracts thermal energy from pressurized steam and uses it to do mechanical work on a rotating output shaft. Its modern manifestation was invented by Charles Parsons in 1884. Fabrication of a modern steam turbine involves advanced metalwork to form high-grade steel alloys into precision parts using technologies that first became available in the 20th century; continued advances in durability and efficiency of steam turbines remains central to the energy economics of the 21st century. 59ce067264