Alternative Car

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by enloopious, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. enloopious

    enloopious Rocket Surgeon

    Recently the idea of oil problems have brought up the question of a post oil world car. Now the steam powered car used to be a very efficient way to go but I am guessing that with all of the technology that we have today we could improve on that by quite a bit.

    What would it take to build a car from scratch that ran on something you could make from home or get cheaply/easily and what would be the best/cheapest/most reliable way to go? Solar powered battery electric motor? Steam engine? Browns gas? alcohol? other...

    i would think that a couple of solar panels and batteries with an electric motor would be the cheapest since there is no need to keep buying gas or making alcohol but its also the highest start up costs. Maybe a hybrid system is the way to go since combustion engines produce heat and need cooling. What would YOU make if you could?
  2. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    I have gathered some limited steam power information and would love to pursue the issue to a logical conclusion. It's all a matter of time and money. Both of which I am limited with. Materials have evolved so far past the steam age it is amazing. Stainless steel, ceramics, distilled water, and many other inovations could make small steam powerplants very effective and viable energy sources for a variety of uses. Designs, working drawings etc are available for many past production units of 19th and 20th century units.
  3. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

  4. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    One word. Gasification.
    no need to change your mode of transportation.
    I'd suggest a truck though.
  5. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    Actually I was thinking post shtf. No I don't think that will do. Batterys die. Replacements will be next to impossible to come by. No new ones will be available. The clock will be turned back 100 plus years. Wind power for BOL sure, but on the scale of old dutch windmills. Ditto on water power. Steam power and dynamos will provide the first viable large scale power for the masses post shtf. If someone were smart enough and had enough money they could produce a home steam powerplant for post shtf now as well as a few units for mobile use. Post shtf it is all still possible only on a much slower completion scale for a workable unit.
  6. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    What is available today which would simplify the BOL power situation would be acquiring a few big PTO driven generators. Then you are half way there. Next you need a certain horsepower at a certain rpm to complete the other half. This could be accomplished with proper sized and geared, wind, water, or steam power.
    BTPost likes this.
  7. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    I have a few PTO driven gennies that i use occasiomnaly but the PM required may cause an issue with wind driven as they ned apound 2200 rmp to generate a full load that will power my house... YMMV
  8. scrapman21009

    scrapman21009 Chupacabra Hunter

    Don't know what type you have, but i have seen someone take the grease type bearing w/ zerk fitting out and replace the seals and bearing with a flooded wet type using synthetic oil and an oil cup. better lubrication and easier to keep an eye on the oil cup.
  9. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    Others I have noted due quite well at idle speeds of 500 to 750 rpm. Your point is well taken, and obviously those speeds might be very difficult to obtain. So I would say, one must search out those pto gen units that produce at lower rpms. They are out there.
  10. enloopious

    enloopious Rocket Surgeon

    What if we took solar panels and hooked them into an electric heating coil in a steam engine? You could supplement that with batteries to increase distance. Now these guys in England have an engine that seems much worse than the model T and Stanley Steamer. Why is this performance so poor?
    British Steam Engine Car | Hardware Sphere

    Distil water using this method for a clean fuel. Seems like the easiest way to go and I am going to build this still this week just for drinking water purposes.
    distilling basics

    Here are some other car projects using steam engines
    The Stanley Steam Engine
    Steam Under the Hood | Popular Science
    BMW adds steam engine to car, improves fuel efficiency by 10% | DVICE

    Here is the million dollar idea, you put the heating filament in the pistons! When the water touches the extremely hot piston it turns to steam and expands. What I want to know is can it be ignited above the critical point of 374 °C as a plasma? I have a feeling it can but try googling that and ten pages in there is still no answer. When I boil water and the water overflows and touches the hot iron grill and open flame it produces a reaction. I can not find that reaction online but I am betting that it is combustion of the water plasma. Anyone know?

    Then of course you put a condenser in the exhaust and reclaim all of the water you just burned. This should extend fuel life considerably.
  11. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    Just a few tidbits about AC generators. Those that are used to power 120 volt AC for our house hold appliances are actually alternators and the speed at which they rotate is quite important. The rotational speed defines the frequency of the AC juice coming out. Here in the US of A our products require 60 hz AC whereas in Europe they use 50 hz. The generator has things inside called poles around which the coils wind. Depending upon the generator design they can have different numbers of poles. As a general rule the frequency output is:
    f = (rpm x number of poles) / 120

    A four pole unit is quite common so to get 60 hz power it must turn at 1800 rpm regardless of load. To achieve this gen sets have a governor to regulate the speed and if the load increases and tends to slow the genertor, the governor increases the engine throttle to make up for it.

    Tractor PTOs are generally set to turn at 540 RPM when the engine is running at its peak torque speed. Generators designed to be operated by a tractor PTO have a geartrain to step up the rotational speed from 540 rpm to 1800 rpm (or whatever is appropriate for the number of poles the generator has) in order to generate 60 hz power. Most newer farm tractors (especially diesel) have a governor built into their fuel system specifically to maintain constant PTO speeds for what ever machinery that may be powered by it. So a grain auger runs at the same speed regardless if grain is being moved or not. That's why a tractor works well as the power unit for a generator.

    Now understand that large step changes in the electical load will require the governor to compensate and that doesn't happen instantly like the electrical changes can happen. So when high loads come on and off the frequency will vary until the governor has stabilized the speed at the new load. Some electronics aren't real fond of that.

    The alternators in you car are also AC generating devices and they have rectifiers to convert the AC power they produce to DC current.

  12. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    The quest for new engines is over two centuries old. Very little that hasn't been tired already. The advances in recent decades and years has been due to advances in materials, better understanding of combustion processes and technology that permits better control of combustion processes (I have done much work for an engine manufacturer on the controls side over the years).

    My initial impressions for alternative modes of transportation is to adapt existing methods and technology to the energy sources as hand. So what may those be?

    1. Electric - there will be ways to generate electical power with solar, wind, hydro, chemical, etc. The trick is can any of these be used in a mobile application. That is the challenge today for EVs. Most generation sources (save fuel powered gensets) require a stationary location and are bulky in order to get the energy necessary to move a vehicle. Solar panels on a car roof can recharge the batteries over time but unless you do like the college kids with their solar vehicle challenges with a fancy 3-4 wheel bicycle, super fairings and ultralight weight, you aren't going anyplace without large batteries.

    So we need to store the electrical energy to use with a vehicle. Only a couple semi practical modes come to mind (might be another one or two with some more pondering) A. Batteries and B. Hydrogen. You all know about batteries so skip that discussion of pros, cons etc. Hydrogen can be extracted from water through electrolosis but the task then becomes how to store that for a vehicle. We will need to operate a pump to compress it and put in compressed gas cylinders. The the H2 can be used two ways, to operate an engine or to operate a fuel cell generating electricity for an electric motor. Pros and cons to both.

    2. Gas fuels. Wood can be gasified and used to run an internal combustion engine. The wood gasifier takes up space but they were used alot during WW2 to power trucks, cars and tractors. Manure and other biomatter can be decomposed to create methane. This would need to be compressed just like hydrogen and could fuel an IC engine. Storage cylinders are big, heavy and do present some risk, especially if someone might be shooting at you. Some vegetable oils might be had (there is a soy bean mill just a mile from me) and there is work going on to make algae into a diesel fuel at the DIY level. I'd look into that.

    3. Heat from a fuel like wood or coal. This is where a steam engine comes in. I'd also look at a Stirling. All the various ideas to get heat to move pistons have been tried and interestingly technology often still comes back to some things that look quite familiar.

    It was mentioned "When I boil water and the water overflows and touches the hot iron grill and open flame it produces a reaction. I can not find that reaction online but I am betting that it is combustion of the water plasma. Anyone know?" Yes, it is just a very very aggressive boiling of water converting it from water to gas extremely rapidly, that's all. Getting things into a plasma state require extremely high temperatures beyond a stove burner and is essentially the moving from a gaseous state to a highly ionized gaseous state. Plasma doesn't burn itself but can react quite readily with other substances. Hence the plasma cutting torch.

    I'll ponder this some more.

    As an engineer, I like R & D quite a bit -- Rip-off and Duplicate. Why re-invent the wheel? How would a smart poor lazy man do this. I'd just copy what we know worked well before. Plenty of info out thereon most of those.

  13. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    I've pondered on this sort of thing a number of times, and keep coming back to simple is the way to go. Opinions follow, YMMV.
    -When SHTF comes along, liquid fuels are going to be difficult if not impossible to find, and gaseous might be a hard row to hoe as well.
    -Forget hydrogen at this stage, takes energy to separate from whatever source you might have. That's an intermediate step you don't need.
    -Solar. Well, that's laughable in my mind, especially up here on the hill.
    -Hydro. Possible, but still needs hardware and a favorable geography.
    -Wind. Also possible, but wants hardware and favorable geography.
    -Electric. I think that's the thing, I really do. For the mobile applications under discussion, power storage will be the limiting factor, not so much for stationary use.

    So, all the possibles want hardware, and want independence from liquid fuels. My MT head says it's time to get the hardware. I like the sterling engine schemes, burn anything flammable, solid, liquid or gaseous. Use it to drive a generator (NOT an alternator) to charge a battery bank or go direct to the load via invertors with battery surge banks.

    Why do I say not an alternator? Because governors are tricky little beasts. A crafty mechanic can work up a flyball governor, but the regulation might will be problematic, and it isn't clear to me that an electronic governor will survive well if at all.

    I have to admit I do not know what to do about the limited cycle life of batteries as time wears on.
  14. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Depends on the chemistry of the Battery, @ghrit.... Lead Acid has an Operational Life Cycle.... Even in the Best situation it is like 10 years... some of the new Li Ion types may be better, but there isn't enough Lifetime Data on them yet....
  15. goinpostal

    goinpostal Monkey+++

    I saw this at the Green Home Show in Orlando,Fl.,some years back:

    electric EVette - YouTube

    It uses refillable long lived deep cycle golf cart batteries,has off road capability,go's 200+mi per charge,will outrun most street rods in the 1/8mi,and last time I talked to the guy it now has a top cruise speed of 100 mph.
    It's also reegistered as a motorcycle.
  16. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    Indeed governors can be tricky to make stable and electronic ones may not survive an EMP. Fortunately, a governor is needed with an alternator (or oft called an AC generator) only if we want a stable frequency output from it for AC power. Run the output through a rectifier to convert alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) as is done in every single automobile for decades and decades, and there is no need for a governor because the frequency doesn't much matter. Chrysler introduced the alternator in the early 1960s when silicon rectifiers became available and soon after the whole auto industry followed. It is a bit easier to reliably control the voltage output from an alternator charging 12 volt batteries and the slip rings in an alternator carry far less current, a tenth or less, than the brushes in a generator and consequently last much much longer. The term generator is still often applied to the electricity creating device in our cars and trucks but it is an AC generating device that gets converted to DC.

    Now, the question still remains will the rectifiers still function after an EMP? Some people think not, some say no problem. Given the current rating of these things is like dozens to hundreds of amps and they generally have load dump protection.... let's I just say I'm skeptical. I have put semi-trucks and buses with electronic engines in EMI test chambers and blasted them with RF energy from 15khz to 2 Ghz at 100 and 200 volts per meter field strengths. Yeah an EMP significantly exceeds that but in a running engine the charging circuit is quite low impedance. I question if the induced currents would be of suffcient duration to burn overheat them to the point of opening. The other question might be the reversed bias voltage on the rectifier punching through the internal oxide layers. Hmmmm.... I'll have to look into this some more and get smarter on the field strengths and induced voltages.

    And there may be some EMP problems with the regulator for both generators and alternators. Some vehicles now use the engine control module to control the alternator field current to control voltage and these may have problems. Not too hard to store away a voltage regulator and spare rectifier for the alternator (assuming the ECM doesn't do the regulation) in a Faraday box as one of your preps.

  17. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Yep, should have said synchronous alternator.
  18. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    With regard to duplicating tried and tested steam engines, I have found reduced scale and full sized machinist drawing of many marine application steam engines from around 3 horsepower, up to 200 hp or so. Some of the main problems and dangers of steam engines of that era involved using poor steel, friction and wear, corrosion, and damage to the boiler due to hard water. My earlier points were that, rip off and duplicate techniques could be used NOW (before the shtf), but with using modern quality steel or stainless steel, improved lubrication, and pure water (distilled), to provide a dependable time tested improved version of an old work horse. I was intriqued with marine steam engines because the smaller ones were made to be as lightweight and compact and simple as possible, and seemed to most readily be adaptable to a land motor vehicle (also because of their slip drive propeller shaft designs) which I also thought would convert over to drive shaft design to rear wheels.
  19. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    "I was intriqued with marine steam engines because the smaller ones were made to be as lightweight and compact and simple as possible, and seemed to most readily be adaptable to a land motor vehicle (also because of their slip drive propeller shaft designs) which I also thought would convert over to drive shaft design to rear wheels." Interesting, any drawings, photos, or diagrams you would like to share?
  20. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Do you think a solar powered electrical heating element, could run a Stirling engine effectively? I'm thinking the draw would be too high. Anybody ever try it?
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