Thursday, 31 July 2008

English Energy Independence?

I'm a great fan of the full English Breakfast and for that reason the most sensible form of land transport ever invented in my opinion is the steam locomotive. Everything can be cooked on the fireman's shovel by placing it for a few moments in the firebox and a very good pot of tea can be brewed using condensed steam.
I've been researching the practicality of developing a steam-powered car as a means of reducing dependence on a tax mad government and petrol from kleptocracies with inferiority complexes. Unfortunately, and may St Fred Dibnah (pbuh) hurl a big spanner for saying this, steam engine technology is a bit too heavy and slow for road use.
But there is a more efficient form of external combustion engine technology called the Stirling Engine. A company in Sweden called Precer has developed a prototype technology demostrator with a hybrid Stirling Engine/Electric Motor power pack that runs on pelleted wood fuel (1-2kg per 10 km). The fuel could be specially grown zero carbon willow biofuel or processed scrap paper, cardboard, wood etc. The advantage of using that as a fuel is that waste is pretty much equally available throughout the country so transport costs would be reduced (petrol and diesel has to be road-tankered to petrol stations). And best of all one could be smugly green yet not paying any fuel tax and not bicycling.
So who wants to join me to buy the technology from Precer and set up a new car factory in Coventry?
Update: Have a look at another site here . Nice but no room for the rods.


William Gruff said...

Steam engine development effectively ground to a halt in the nineteenth century, although there were a very few significant developments in the first half of the twentieth century, yet Ingeniero Livio Dante Porta (see for example: ) and his disciples (e.g. David Whardle) have shown that steam still offers great potential, and not from romantic attachment.

We've come to believe that 'progress' always means quicker, faster and easier but, as the late Arthur C Clarke observed in 2001: A Space Odyssey, there is always a price to be paid ('trading speed for distance') and we're beginning to realise that the price of 'progress' as we have understood it hitherto is just too great. It always amazes me that those who use acronyms such as KISS are invariably those who depend on the infallibility of systems and believe in the long obsolete doctrine of the inevitability of progress. In a 'media savvy world' those who believe that the highest form of technology is the lowest risk accusations of Chance like naïvety but, if we're to keep it simple, and enjoy doing so, what option have we other than to look at what we've discarded, what we gained from it and how we felt about it before we were told that it was no longer of any use?

William Gruff said...

'David Whardle' should have read David Wardale.

Such are the perils of age, fatigue and alcohol in combination with blogging.

Gallimaufry said...

Many thanks for the links, gruff. I'll look them up tomorrow. Goethe said something like"Anyone who doesn't have a working knowledge of the past 3,000 years' history is living from hand to mouth." Circumstances change so the outdated solutions of yesteryear can help solve present and future problems. It is as important in my opinion to maintain a knowledge and skills bank as it is a gene bank for plant varieties and animal breeds. Changing climate, the need for less inputs etc all require the dna of "obsolete" plants and livestock to adapt present day breeding lines. Despite the guff about sustainability etc, the skill of mending has virtually disappeared in all trades now - cheaper to get a new one.

Neohagrid said...

There's quite a lot of gen about really advanced steam locomotives (Porta, Wardale, et al) available by following the links in this article on Behind The Water Tower:

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

The alternative, of course, is to flood the roads and use windpower on small craft. New road projects can become canals instead - better for wildlife anyway.

Malc said...

If you want to build a steam powered car, why not start with this ????

Looks good doesn't it ?

Gallimaufry said...

Mmm. yes thanks.