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Old 02-09-2017, 09:13 AM   #1
magaudio
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Default Steam Turbine Powered Generator Project

Hey guys,
So I dove headfirst into a new project: a Steam turbine powered generator for camping that will use a small RC plane outrunner and a Pressure Cooker for steam production (and cooking!)

I think I understand the base basics of this, or am starting to. I was trying to find a way to generate electricity on a long term campout/bug-out to power a tablet that I will load with a book library and a few movies for at night, and also recharge my GPS/Radio/Headlamp. I live in Oregon...so solar may not be best option. There are ThermoElectric options...but they are low power...and come on, I want things that SPIN!

So...I found a Model Tesla Turbine that could power 3x 20w bulbs easily...and that ended the decision making process. check out this beautiful beast:
http://gyroscope.com/d.asp?product=TESLATURBINE2

they made an updated Version. both sold out. New version will be available soon!)

So the tesla was out, and kinda heavy anyway...so I looked for more options. I found a standard blade model turbine on ebay. Its from china...So Ill probably have to upgrade the bearings, but otherwise it looks very nice and sturdy! Small, light...Should be able to easily make a few 1000 rpm from a rolling boil from a 1.5L pressure cooker (may upgrade to 2.7L)
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Live-Steam-T...l/371601501881

My next decisions are Motor and power conversion.

So, I believe that I will need a relatively low KV motor to make a decent voltage. I don't know what brand/model I should be looking for and I was thinking you guys would have some suggestions.

I have been using this for some example calculations:
https://hobbyking.com/en_us/quanum-m...lt-by-dys.html

340kv
Max currents 15a
max voltage 22
Power 333W
.29lb

using this motor @ 3740 (50% max) ||or|| 5000 rpm(66%):

11V ||or|| 14.7v
116.5w||or || 219.78w
Amps?


I would think this would all be MORE than enough power even when I figure in I will be losing efficiency through heat and power conversion.

Please correct me if I am wrong. Help me with motor choice for longevity or better numbers and or weight.

The thing that I am really kinda lost with at this point is power conversion.
I want to be able to charge some devices. Sometimes small devices.
I know I will need to use diodes to convert and some capacitors, I believe, to level everything out(?)

Maybe for simplicty I should be looking at a brushed motor that goes direct to DC. Or maybe I should figure out how to convert this into a regular outlet and just bring the AC/DC converters that the devices use (more weight, but easy).

With all this in mind I have to also think: what if my device creates too much power: what am I going to fry/keep from frying
and how can I setup the system to use every drop of power produced (will my device's AC/DC adapters work if they are provided with less than 120V standard?? will they be damaged by low voltage?)

Maybe you guys can help me with this journey!


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Old 02-09-2017, 10:38 AM   #2
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Is there a formula I should be using to figure besides VxA=W?

The engine gives max V and W but if I make those 50% I am still producing
max amps.
(all this with efficiency not figured in)(Is there a longer more complex formula?)
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Old 02-09-2017, 11:33 AM   #3
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magaudio
I think you are ignoring some basic issues.
Nowhere in the spec for that turbine does it state the pressure or the power it can produce. This must be the starting point before you go any further considering how to generate the electricity.
At these sizes turbines need to spin fast to generate useful power. Your generator has to be designed to work at the turbines speed.
A brushless motor running as a generator produces the equivalent of a 3 phase AC output. You will need some electronics to convert this into an appropriate form to power your devices, just as it requires an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) to run as a motor from a DC battery.
A pressure cooker works at relatively low pressure (15 psi max?) so you will need a turbine designed to produce the required power at this pressure. I fear it will be rather bigger than you think and will require a lot of steam.
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Old 02-09-2017, 12:06 PM   #4
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The turbine is rated at 20K rpm. Unfortunately he does not mention how many psi will attain this. Looking around at turbines of similar size I believe
15psi should produce a reasonable few K of RPM. Some of these small turbines are reaching 100k at 60psi.

Here is a video of my exact turbine at 30psi and with reduction ratio of 1:13.5
Just eyeing the prop tells me that I should have a good number of rpm at 15psi.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YSmooQrYEY

As far as the electronic end goes....yes, I am fairly uncertain there. I don't even know what the motor will produce. I rarely see amps measured by people who are doing this. Seeing as most of my stuff will be charging devices it would be nice to have a few amps for fast charging.
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Old 02-09-2017, 12:16 PM   #5
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm6HUn2ZQcQ


another very similar turbine getting some volts

this turbine, the ts-315, will get 25k rpm at 20psi.
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Old 02-09-2017, 12:20 PM   #6
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I imagine if someone built the pressure vessel and turbine out of titanium, and made the rest of the plane very light....they might be able to make a steam powered rc plane.
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Old 02-09-2017, 12:27 PM   #7
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http://www.modelflying.co.uk/forums/...s.asp?th=83488

steam powered rc plane!
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Old 02-09-2017, 04:05 PM   #8
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The 'free' RPM of a turbine is not really relevant, it is the torque available at a given RPM (i.e. power) that matters and the volume/pressure of air/steam that is required to create it.
In that video the turbine is producing no practical power in fact only enough to simply make the voltmeter needle move!

Small turbines are notoriously inefficient. The Tesla turbine actually suggests an 8 CFM compressor at (80 psi?) to get 60W output. That's a serious amount of input power.
I am sure it can all be done (if you don't mind how much gas it will use!) but how practical it will be is questionable.

Surely a solar panel in combination with a wind turbine (as used in small pleasure yachts) would provide an adequate (and quiet!) means of providing charging power.
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Old 02-09-2017, 06:33 PM   #9
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If I need to create a pressure vessel that will give me 30psi that is no problem. Go on youtube and watch these generators use 30psi of steam to power 60w worth of bulbs...there is no doubt they are producing electricty. at high temperatures water will create plenty of CFM.

I am planning to use this for camping, so a solar panel that will produce 20w will produce 18-22V max and weigh 2.5lbs. It would take 6 hours of full power to charge a battery that is 5200mah. A wind turbine? thats just a low power/slow version of what I am trying to create!

My tablet is 7200mah

My goal is to make a 2-5amps at 5v. basically a high power, FAST, usb charger. I am not sure if this idea will produce amps. How do I calculate amps?
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Old 02-09-2017, 11:28 PM   #10
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A Solar panels weighs 2.5 lbs.
How much do you think your turbine, generator and pressure vessel will weigh?
I would point out they have flown electric planes quite successfully with solar panels for power but certainly not using on board steam generated electricity!

All I am saying is there are much more practical ways to create 25W (5A at 5V) than using a gas powered boiler and a steam turbine generator set but if that's what you want to do go right ahead and have a go.
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Old 02-10-2017, 12:49 AM   #11
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Why would something that can brightly light 3x 20w bulbs not work?

I am not sure about the amps, yes---this i am unsure about.
Perhaps there is a regulator that will use volts to up the amps.
perhaps the adapters I have will work and supply amperage.

I do not know, that is why I came here. I understand amps increase with load, but I do not know how the engine will respond to Making amps/resistance.

As far as better options, if you know a better option that will work rain or shine then tell me.

Biolite and Powerpot both produce relatively low amounts of power.
These are the other fire based options.


Much of my weight: the steam vessel will double for cooking.
otherwise its a .5lb turbine, tubing, .3-.5lb outrunner, and some electrical
conversion box that will probably not weigh too much.
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Old 02-10-2017, 02:24 AM   #12
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One thing you may be overlooking is that the turbines you are looking at are designed to operate on cool, compressed AIR, not steam. I doubt they would last very long being operated in a very hot, very wet environment.

What goes up, must come down. The trick is to keep it in one piece.
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Old 02-10-2017, 06:52 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul View Post
One thing you may be overlooking is that the turbines you are looking at are designed to operate on cool, compressed AIR, not steam. I doubt they would last very long being operated in a very hot, very wet environment.
Its a model steam turbine produced explicitly for the model steam community --model train and boat peeps.

The video I listed above shows the guy who makes the things using steam to demonstrate the turbine with a propeller.

It IS, however, Chinese....So i will be replacing some seals and putting in some more appropriate/better quality bearings. brass is not the most modern metal for anti-corrosion, but it works well in steam applications.

Come on naw, Ya'll.
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Old 02-11-2017, 01:32 AM   #14
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The question is not that a turbine and generator will work but how much steam does it need and can your gas cooker and 'pressure' vessel create it?
Remember its not the pressure by itself you need but the ability to keep that pressure whilst you are letting out the steam into the turbine.
If it can create the volume of steam required how long before the water is boiled off and the vessel has to be refilled?

Then there is the safety aspect of a 30 psi steam pressure vessel in a public space.

There is some development and testing to do.
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Old 02-11-2017, 09:56 AM   #15
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What exactly is it that you want to power? If all you need is power for charging a phone and some LED lights then by far the simplest option would be to take a battery. Modern Li-Ion power-bank type batteries are light and compact and store a lot of energy. You can get these batteries designed precisely for camping that are in waterproof and shock proof cases. They are also capable of being charged from small lightweight fold-able solar panels.

While a steam boiler/turbine is capable of working as an experiment on the bench I cant really see it being practical in a real life camping environment. The equipment is going to be heavy, complex and fragile. To make it work you would need to maintain a constant fire, and keep a boiler topped up with water (so a supply of fresh water and fuel for the fire), and what if it was raining?
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Old 02-11-2017, 04:10 PM   #16
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This is not going to end well. First and most important is nothing you have put together was not made to do what you want. Example the RC motors are not made to be ran that hot and that long. It will burn up in minutes if the boiler does not explode first. .
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