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Solar powered steam engine

  1. Oct 23, 2009 #1
    Hey all....So i have this project, to use any other liquid apart from water in a solar powered steam engine.
    At the moment i am still in research phase, and have been reading on quite a few liquids although i have been concentrating on ethanol, as it is readily available and has a BP of 78 degrees. So here is an idea that i thought of, rather than using a rankine cycle to use an absorption cycle or a vapour power cycle, where the need for a pump is eliminated. Ethanol when mixed with water at a ratio of 89 % to 11% forms an azeotrope, meaning the molecular ratios are unaffected by evaporation. So in the boiler (powered by the solar panel) the ethanol from the azeotrope mixture evaporates (at 78 degrees while the water is still in liquid form) and the pressurised vapour exorts energy to the turbine. The resulting low pressurised vapour passes to the condenser where it mixes with water at room temperature.

    Now that is just an idea, and i need all u brainy people to help me out...
    When water mixes with ethanol its an exothermic reaction and 777J/mol of energy is released, so can this energy released in the condeser be helpul to us? can it cause the ethanol to revapourise? Any improvements or suggestions to the design will also be appreciated, and thought on alternatives to ethanol :)

    Btw i have viewed the previous thread on this as well :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 23, 2009 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    What is the purpose of this project? Is it a personal project, a school project, a government contract to build a prototype? This is potentially a huge undertaking that doesn't have any easy answers.
  4. Oct 24, 2009 #3
    Well its a university project, its related to one of my modules.. so im trying to fetch ideas and professional opinions from every side :)
  5. Oct 31, 2009 #4
    I have to weigh in about all the heated combustable gas engines. I have real concerns pressurizing and heating ethanol, propane, butane, and a vast list of others. The danger in my opinion, is off the chart. in theory, if the thing is perfectly sealed the risk is decreased, but even a minor leak can cause a disaster that can kill people. And as murphy always dictates, the experimenter will survive, so he can be sued relentlessly.

    for gods sake, be careful, and remember no "energy solution engine" is useful if the above average moron can cause a disaster.

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