1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Solar Driven low Resource Consuption Steam Engine Materials

  1. Sep 25, 2012 #1
    Hi I'm dbmorpher
    For my local History fair I am basing my report on the Indutrial Evolution and it's Inventions namely the Steam Engine.
    I wanted to know if there was an easy way to make a steam engine that was or had...
    • Low cost parts
    • No fuel such as coal or wood
    • No need for complicated tools
    • A small design (at most 2 and a half feet)
    I was thinking about an engine that used the sun to heat the water but I am not familiar with any solar panel providers and do not know how to efficiently transfer heat. Any help would be appreciated.
    Thank You.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 25, 2012 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    It takes a fair amount of power to make steam (even a little of it), so using the sun or solar panels may not be practical for a small steam engine for a science fair.

    I think the easiest way to do this is to make a small pot that sits on top of a standard hot plate (that you plug into the wall for power), and build your steam piston engine on top of the pot. You could have a single cylinder turn a flywheel with steam power, for example. The hardest part would be fitting the piston into the cylinder, because you need fairly good tolerances for that. But you might be able to adapt an old radio-controlled airplane engine to steam power (I'm not sure how hard that might be), or figure out some other simple way to get a piston fitted well into a cylinder (for low friction movement back and forth).
  4. Sep 25, 2012 #3


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

  5. Sep 25, 2012 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Don't try to make it too small. The power loss caused by badly fitting pistons etc will be proporionally worse for a small engine than a big one. Low pressure steam acting on a big piston area will generate as much force as higher pressure on a small area, but with a lot less leakage.
  6. Sep 25, 2012 #5
    Than You all for your help
    I have an idea of what I am going to do now
  7. Sep 25, 2012 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

  8. Oct 6, 2012 #7
    Solar driven for steam means Parabolic dishes. So you'll have to do something like a solar oven to boil it. Possibly even a cheap half-ball lens ($10-20) with the focal point on a heat exchanger section of your pipe. Large parabolic dish focused on a mirror directing to your ball lens should let you get a few hundred degrees if you have good summer quality sun. Parabolic dises alone can hit 300 or so degrees.
  9. Oct 9, 2012 #8
    Oh I had seen that image in a book I had read "A History of the Growth of the Steam Engine" I thought it to be theoretical not plausible
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Solar Driven low Resource Consuption Steam Engine Materials
  1. Solar engine (Replies: 23)

  2. Engineering resources (Replies: 5)