Backyard Steam Engines for Electricity?

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posted on Mar, 17 2007 @ 03:39 AM
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For the folks that live in a wooded area, what do you think about a steam engine to provide electricity? I have looked around and have seen some decent priced engines for sale. I also noticed todays boilers have safety built into them so you do not get blown up.

Anyone have practical experience they would like to share?

What do you think about this to provide your house with electricity?




- NSBiz




posted on Mar, 17 2007 @ 06:28 AM
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Originally posted by NSBiz
For the folks that live in a wooded area, what do you think about a steam engine to provide electricity? I have looked around and have seen some decent priced engines for sale. I also noticed todays boilers have safety built into them so you do not get blown up.

Anyone have practical experience they would like to share?

What do you think about this to provide your house with electricity?

- NSBiz



NSBiz,

Do you know much about steam plant functions...boilers...steam engines or even the generator side of such a plant??

AC power genearators require some 3000 to 3500 RPM to make 110/220 volts /60 cycles off the end of an AC type generator.

I believe the DC version does not require that much RPM to function but uses a DC generator and then runs this through an electric circuit called an inverter to change this DC Voltage into 110/220 volts AC at 60 cycles

Also a plant like this needs monitoring A large volume steam leak can be a very dangerous thing. Lubrication needs to be monitored. Some kind of automatic system needs to be in place here or a standard watch ..human watch keeping watch over this system

One needs to know ones stuff here in running a system like this and then maintaining it too.

Thanks,
Orangetom



posted on Mar, 17 2007 @ 04:04 PM
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An internal combustion engine fueled by a wood gas generator would be far more efficient use of your wood as fuel. The best use would be as a back-up charging for a battery bank when your wind-powered and solar cell chargers can't keep up with the demand on such as the dead of winter or cloudy windless days. It could also be used to provide power to an arc welder, electric dryer or other infrequent heavy electrical demand items.

Small steam engines aren't very efficient users of energy. You've got to get into the 50-100 kilowatt/hr range size generators before steam power becomes competitive with internal combustion engines efficiency wise.



posted on Mar, 17 2007 @ 10:36 PM
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What initially peeked my interest was a PM Article.

Heres a site I found that gives a little information.

This site is sort of geared towards this forum and talks a bit about steam power.

More Information

A bit more information

Great article


If anyone has some good informational links please post.



- NSBiz




[ added another link ]

[edit on 3/17/2007 by NSBiz]



posted on Mar, 18 2007 @ 07:52 AM
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NSBiz...you got me to thinking here and I dug through my olde CD photos to download this picture of an olde steam engine.

THis one has some historical significance and an intresting story to go with it.

Much of this can be found on line by googling the Mariners Museum in Newport News, Virginia.

When this event occured the Mariners Museum was not quite prepared to receive the engine from the USS Monitor so it was placed in the bottom of Dry Dock 10 at Newport News Shipbuilding with a series of nozzels to put salt water spray on it continuously until the tank was finally ready for it up at the Mariners Museum some 7 miles up the road from this shipyard.
Of course when we heard the news that the engine was in the bottom of the drydock...none of us could stand it and walked immediately into the bottom of the dock to take a look. It was hanging pretty much as you see it in this photo except that it was not in a tank but just salt water continuously spraying on it. This lasted some four or five days till the tank was finished and they moved it the seven miles up the road to its new tank.
Talk about something very weird..or anachronastic. The USS Eisenhower was in the next drydock over from this one ..and many pieces including the propellors from the USS Eisenhower were being stored in the bottom of DryDock 10. Strange seeing the olde and the new together in the same drydock. Some of you may know how huge an aircraft carrier propellor actually is.

It is a strange sensation to stand before a piece of history that olde and very American..to see it before most of the American public had access. At the same time right next to it a very modern ship by comparison.
For those of us who read and appreciate history it is very humbling.

Since that time they have also raised the gun turrent and the guns with it.

Though heavily encrusted, I tried to figure out how it worked ..even hanging upside down as it is in the photo. You can see the ribs or frames of the bottom or inner bottoms of the hull ..remember this engine is upside down in the photo. Most of it is beneath the water and is undergoing preservation as well as other artifacts raised from the sea floor.

Near as I can tell it is a one cylinder piston or reciprocating engine..all mechanical. The piston moves a linkage or a shaft to one side when at a certain amount of travel and hits a mechanical linkage or what I call a teeter lever which ports the steam to the other side of the piston and the cycle is repeated hitting the teeter on the other side to port steam back the other way.
This ship also had a propellor which was also raised from the seabed. This is a propellor in a time when much steam shipping was still on paddle
wheeled propulsion.

If you want to know more about this engine or the USS Monitor itself you can look up the site on google. Mariners Museum in Newport News, Virginia.

Anyway for you and the other readers here is the photo. Enjoy.

Thanks,
Orangetom





posted on Mar, 22 2007 @ 11:09 AM
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"AC power genearators require some 3000 to 3500 RPM to make 110/220 volts /60 cycles off the end of an AC type generator"

That is only true for a gens witn thoes settings. Almost all motors can be used as generators. Motors come in all different sizes and RPMs. Not to mention putting a gearbox on a motor is not that difficult.

The "simplest" way to do this would be to have the steam turbine rotate a permanate magnet AC generator, then rectify (make DC) the power, then feed it into an inverter (makes it AC again), or into a charge controler for a battery pack. This is called a AC-DC-AC system, it is used quite a bit in small wind turbines.

In my mind the most difficult thing would be building the boiler, and the turbine wheel.

There is actually someone working on a home built steam turbine at

www.fieldlines.com...



posted on Mar, 22 2007 @ 02:59 PM
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Originally posted by Wgatenson
"AC power genearators require some 3000 to 3500 RPM to make 110/220 volts /60 cycles off the end of an AC type generator"

That is only true for a gens witn thoes settings. Almost all motors can be used as generators. Motors come in all different sizes and RPMs. Not to mention putting a gearbox on a motor is not that difficult.

The "simplest" way to do this would be to have the steam turbine rotate a permanate magnet AC generator, then rectify (make DC) the power, then feed it into an inverter (makes it AC again), or into a charge controler for a battery pack. This is called a AC-DC-AC system, it is used quite a bit in small wind turbines.

In my mind the most difficult thing would be building the boiler, and the turbine wheel.

There is actually someone working on a home built steam turbine at

www.fieldlines.com...



This is true as my Coleman 4000 watt generator transfers the gasolinie engine force through a lubricated gear box. This is a rather noisy generator by todays standards but it is also an olde one being bought some 12 years ago. I have since bought a newer model at 7500 watts which is much quieter. Thank goodness. Some of the olde models make alot of noise by comparison to the newer designs. THe gear box on my 4000 watt really sings when running Better mufflers to today too.

Agree the boiler system can be quite difficult to build and maintain. Also in times when you must shut down...you need to know about freezing in the winter months etc etc. I have worked on boiler tube sheets and also on tube sheets in condensors and heat exchangers. Alot of work involved.

Steam in spite of its antiquity in usage compared to gasoline engines can be dangerous if you dont know its limitations and cautions. A large steam burn/leak or blow out is a terrible terrible thing.

I believe most of these set ups would be saturated steam..not that high pressures....thought a certain volume of steam at any pressure can be dangerous.

Steam powered generators while intresting ..I dont believe is for everyone not versed in some aspect of this craft. Mishandled it can be deadly.

Thanks,
Orangetom



posted on Mar, 27 2007 @ 04:03 PM
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"Steam powered generators while intresting ..I dont believe is for everyone not versed in some aspect of this craft. Mishandled it can be deadly."

That is why I am a wind and hydro guy myself, that stuff is dangerous enough without adding superheated steam into the mix!



posted on Mar, 27 2007 @ 04:33 PM
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Here are just a few sample questions I am required to answer in order to operate a marine boiler. Keep in mind this a fraction of what is needed to know.

You have to know about Steam principles, the main boilers, feedwater systems, condensate systems, fuel oil combustion and control principles, Boiler water maintenance, water chemistry, The generator turbines, governors, lubrication, drive systems...

These questions come directly from the US Coast Guards Marine engineer licensing test databank. Which isn't online so I can't post a link to more.

V00263.
If water hammer develops while opening the valve in a steam line,
which of the following actions should be taken?

A. Shut the steam valve at once, open the drain valves until all
moisture is drained, shut the drain line valves, and slowly open
the steam valve again.
B. Continue to fully open the steam valve as the drain line valves
are opened until all moisture is drained, shut the drain line
valves.
C. Stop opening the steam valve, open the drain line valves, resume
opening the steam valve slowly, and shut the drain line valves
after the steam valve is open fully.
D. Increase the speed of opening the steam valve to rapidly heat the
line to stop the water hammer.

ANS:


------------------------------------------------------------------------
V00276.
Damage to deck machinery from water hammer developing in the steam
lines can be prevented by ____________.

A. installing a steam strainer in all exhaust lines
B. opening machinery throttle valves rapidly
C. draining the steam piping before operating any machinery
D. ensuring that all drain lines are properly insulated

ANS:


------------------------------------------------------------------------
V01055.
Noise caused by condensate striking bends or fittings in a pipe line
is called _____________.

A. condensate depression
B. water hammer
C. piston slap
D. hydraulic lock

ANS:


------------------------------------------------------------------------
V01368.
An internal leak in a fuel oil heater can result in _____________.

A. water contamination of the fuel oil
B. oil contamination of the heater drains
C. carbon buildup in the heater
D. fluctuating fuel oil pressure

ANS:


------------------------------------------------------------------------
V01378.
The contaminated steam system is secured for repairs. Live steam is
supplied to the fuel oil heating system and its returns are directed
to the drain tank. Considering these circumstances, an undetected
leak in an idle fuel oil heater could eventually lead to
_____________.

A. secondary combustion
B. boiler tube failures
C. low stack gas temperatures
D. sputtering burners and possible loss of fires

ANS:


------------------------------------------------------------------------
V01568.
Oil in the contaminated drain inspection tank results from
_____________.

A. a defective relief valve on the fuel oil heater
B. improper drainage of the fuel oil heater coils
C. a leaking heating coil in a fuel oil settling tank
D. operating the fuel oil heater at excessive temperatures

ANS:


------------------------------------------------------------------------
V01728.
If oil is found in the fuel oil heating drain system when using live
steam directly to the heating coils, which of the actions listed
should be taken?

A. Secure the boiler.
B. Shift contaminated drains to proper holding area.
C. Bottom blow the boiler.
D. Shift fuel suction to the other settler.

ANS:


------------------------------------------------------------------------
V01738.
Fuel oil may be discovered in the contaminated drain inspection tank
when the _____________.

A. steam atomizer leaks
B. fuel oil heater leaks
C. DC heater leaks
D. steam operated fuel oil pump leaks

ANS:


------------------------------------------------------------------------
V01748.
A leak in the heating coils of a fuel oil heater will first show up
as _____________.

A. water in the fuel oil supply
B. oil in the drain inspection tank
C. sputtering and hissing furnace fires
D. an intense white furnace flame

Not to mention... I don't think there is a muffler that can make these things run even remotely quietly.

*edit to add*

I know that marine boilers are highly complicated as compared to standard fire in tube boilers that could be used to say... power a house. But, they are still very finicky and well... In the wrong hands are bombs. Even on a small household scale. Even if they aren't generating super heated steam these things are no joke.

[edit on 27-3-2007 by LostSailor]



posted on Mar, 28 2007 @ 03:24 AM
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I know that marine boilers are highly complicated as compared to standard fire in tube boilers that could be used to say... power a house. But, they are still very finicky and well... In the wrong hands are bombs. Even on a small household scale. Even if they aren't generating super heated steam these things are no joke.

[edit on 27-3-2007 by LostSailor]


Lost Sailor,

You have some good questions here in this test. I dont know that I can even pass it as most of the stuff I have worked on is nuclear not fuel oil boilers but I will give it a go. Great questions by the way.


V00263 A
V00276 C
V01055 B
V01368 A I am assuming here that steam is used to pre heat the fuel oil
in a tank or heat exchanger type unit before sending it to the
firebox.

V01378 D
V01568 C
V01728 D
V01738 B
V01748 C

And yes..olde man...quite correct. Running a boiler system of any type is no joke. I do know that is some accidents both on ships and in the olde steam locomotive days..they had to remove the people in tarps or canvas to keep their bodies from falling apart after they had been steam pressure cooked. It is no joke.

Most of the stuff Ive worked on is Saturated steam..not super heat. Superheat ..really dangerous if you dont know what you are doing or specific material specifications to use or not to use. EVen Saturated steam you must use the correct specification materials..or big time danger. More so with superheat.

Thanks for your post.
Orangetom



posted on Mar, 28 2007 @ 11:01 AM
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Originally posted by orangetom1999V00263 A
V00276 C
V01055 B
V01368 A I am assuming here that steam is used to pre heat the fuel oil
in a tank or heat exchanger type unit before sending it to the
firebox.

V01378 D
V01568 C
V01728 D
V01738 B
V01748 C


V00276 C yep
V01055 B yep
V01368 A B You assumed correctly, however, the fuel oil would leak into the steam. Leaving a visible oil film inside the inspection tank.
V01378 D B That was a tough one. I honestly can't tell you why... I'll try to dig up a reasoning.
V01568 C yep
V01728 D B
V01738 B yes sir
V01748 C B

A marine steam generator onboard the S.S. Wilfred Sykes.


A general report on the S.S. Wilfred Sykes I wrote while receiving training. I have some more in depth ones if you would like as well.

Ron Paul (subliminal messaging :lol

MNG 312
Assignment #2

Vessel: S.S. Wilfred Sykes
Company: Central Marine Logistics
Length: 661.1 ft.
Breadth: 70.2 ft.
Draft: 32.3 ft.
Gross Tonnage: 12729

Boilers: Two oil fired C-E type V2M boilers. Each boiler is constructed of a steam drum and a water (mud) drum connected by banks of inclined generating tubes, waterwall tubes, refractory, superheater tubes, air heaters, and casing. The boiler exhaust (gas) makes a single pass out the stack.
• Designed by Combustion Engineering – Superheater Inc.
• Design pressure – 525 psi
• Operating Pressure (Superheater outlet) – 450 psi
• Hydrostatic Test (Maximum) – 788 psi
• Safety valve settings
o Steam Drum – 520-525 psi
o Superheater – 466 psi
• Here are the actual 2005 fit-out safety valve settings done by the U.S.C.G. and recorded in the ships engine room log.
o Port Boiler (lifted/seated psig)
ß Superheater – 495/475
ß Fwd drum – 505/495
ß Aft drum – 510/485
o Starboard Boiler (lifted/seated psig)
ß Superheater – 480/470
ß Fwd drum – 520/500
ß Aft drum – 510/490
• Temperatures
o Steam @ normal rating (S.H. outlet) - 750° F
o Feedwater to drum - 315° F
o Air to oil burners - 350° F
• Evaporation (lb./hr.)
o Normal Rating – 32,000
o Maximum – 48,000
• Furnace Volume
o 550 cubic feet
• Heating Surface (sq. ft.)
o Boiler – 3,900
o Water Wall – 270
o Superheater – 780
o Air Heater – 2,600
• Weights (lbs.)
o Cold water to fill boiler (completely full) – 18,000
o Cold water to fill superheater – 1,100
o Total cold water to fill unit completely – 19,100
o Total cold water to fill boiler to normal level – 13,500
o Boiler, dry, complete with fittings – 124,000
o Water, steaming condition – 11,000
o Total “one” boiler, steaming condition – 135,000

Tube Data (type - # of tubes/O.D. inches/min. wall thickness in inches)
• Boiler Tubes - 60/2/.120
• Finned Boiler Tubes – 20/2/.135
• Boiler Tubes – 909/1.25/.095
• Side Wall Tubes – 38/2/.120
• Roof Tubes – 7/2/.120
• Rear Waterwall Tubes – 18/2/.120
• Floor Tubes – 14/2/.120
• S.H. Elements – 37/1.25/.120
• Air Heater Tubes – 945/1.5/.083
o 2048 total tubes per boiler.

Boiler Tubes: Your basic generating tubes running vertical in the boiler from the water drum to the steam drum. Larger Diameter tubes located closer to the burners with smaller ones behind the superheater elements.

Finned Boiler Tubes: Tubes with fins placed directly in front of the superheater elements. The fins force exhaust gas to pass through the superheater.

Water Walls: The floor, side wall, rear wall, and roof of the furnace are water walls. The flow through the water wall circuit is parallel to the boiler circuit; the flow is from the water drum to the distributing header then up to the steam drum through the water wall tubes.

Superheater: Vertical, interbank, convention type with four-pass steam flow. The superheater tubes are made of U-bends and run parallel to the generating tubes.

Desuperheater: A submerged type desuperheater is located below the water level in the steam drum to provide reduced temperature auxiliary steam.

Air Heater: Horizontal tubular type air heater mounted on gas outlet of boiler. Airflow is two pass; gas flow is single pass. Air heater bypass damper is installed for low rating operation; the engineer at the control console controls this damper.

Safety Valves: Four 2” type 1415-A valves on the steam drums. Two 2” type 1415-C valves on the superheater outlet.


COPES Pressure Regulating Valve: A special valve that regulates feedwater pressure to the feedwater regulating valve. This valves sole purpose is to reduce the feedwater pressure from the pumps by 50 psi to limit stress on the feedwater regulating valve.

Feedwater Regulating Valve: Regulates the amount of feedwater entering the steam drum to keep a constant level in the drum.

D.A. Tank Spillage Regulator: A regulating valve located just before the 1st stage heater that controls the amount of condensate that gets sent back to the feedwater reserve tank instead of up to the D.A. tank.

Hot well Regulating Valve: Controls the amount of water sent to the feedwater pumps from the hot well. There is a small “foot valve” located near the control console that the engineer on watch can use to send extra water to the hot well from the reserve feed tank if needed.

Safety Valve Popping and Seating Pressure Adjustment:
When adjusting a safety valve, gags are placed on the other valves. A recently calibrated pressure gauge is used for checking and adjusting safety valves. Connect the pressure gauge to the steam drum for checking the boiler safety valves. Connect the pressure gauge to the superheater outlet to check the superheater safety valve. Under no circumstances set the safety valves to pop or reseat at any pressure other than those stamped on the safety valve nameplate, except by permission of the proper authority (USCG).
To adjust the popping pressure, remove the cap, top lever, and drop lever. Loosen the compression screw lock nut. Tighten the compression screw to increase popping pressure. Loosen the compression screw to lower the popping pressure. Do not turn the compression screw more than one flat without testing the safety valve. Tighten the lock nut before testing.
Increasing the popping pressure will increase the blowdown (reseating pressure). While lowering the popping pressure will decrease blowdown. The blowdown is increased by raising the adjusting ring (counterclockwise) and decreased by lowering it (clockwise).

Tube Plugs:
Boiler tubes are inspected at lay-up in a cold boiler. Occasionally a tube is defective and needs to be removed from service. A quick way to do this is to plug the tube until enough are plugged that replacement tubes need to be installed.
Be sure the tube ends and plugs are perfectly clean to assure a metal-to-metal contact when the plug is driven into the tube end. Then the tube must be punctured to prevent it from building up in pressure when the boiler is put back in service, or cut out completely except for about 2 inches on either side of the tube. A plugged waterwall tube or a 2 inch boiler tube, which is easily accessible, should be replaced at the earliest opportunity. A 1.25 inch boiler tube can be left plugged indefinitely.

Replacement of Boiler Tubes:
Working on the inside of the drum, slot and crimp the faulty tube ends until the tube can be driven from the tube hole. Tubes, which are easily accessible, can be cut off an inch or two from the drum. The remaining nipples can be removed, working either from the outside or inside of the drum.
Clean the tube holes carefully, removing all scale and rust. Clean the replacement tube ends to bright metal using emery cloth. Clean the inside of the tube to remove the protective coating. This may be done by pulling a kerosene soaked swab through with a wire, and then blowing out thoroughly with a steam hose.
Enter the tube in the tube holes and clamp in position. The tube ends must project into the drum 3/8 of an inch (plus or minus an 1/8 of an inch) to allow for belling with the “tube expander” tool.

Notice the temp and pressure of the S.H. (Super Heated) steam. Will take a leg or arm off and cauterize it at the same time. Just from walking through a leak. Can't see it either. Can just hear it. I mean HEAR it... You use broom handles and wave them along the S.H. lines to find them...


I can get some more basic questions if you would like Tom. I just pulled that section out without reading what the questions were about.

cheers

[edit on 28-3-2007 by LostSailor]



posted on Mar, 28 2007 @ 12:08 PM
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Thanks for the answers. Its been awhile since I ve worked engine rooms but I recall some of it.

I have worked inside main condensors and condensors on turbine generators so the photo is familiar to me.

I recall cleaning out the tube sheets of these heat exchangers with a pressure washer hose ..passing the hose up and down the length of them. Sometimes using a brush tool and shooting them the length of the tubes with air and water. Long and tedious job it is. A Sony walkman helps alot.
Also the part about plugging them up. Surprising when you go into some of them how many tubes are in fact plugged up.

Intresting how much sea growth gets into one of these heat exchangers or condensors over time to block them up. You actually see crabs in them which must have gotten in there as very small crabs and grown in them to a size to big to get out past the tube sheets and sea valves..in the condensors.

Yes...a steam leak is a dangerous thing especially in a high pressure high volume system. Nothing for amateurs with which to play around or be careless. It can be fatal and quickly.

Thanks for your post,
Orangetom





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