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Steam power....Any thoughts?

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by Russianfist, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. Russianfist

    Russianfist Sweet home, Oregon Active Member

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    I got to thinking about long term options without oil or gas and remembered that the world once ran on steam.
    I think a person could build a small boiler and generation system for their home to charge batteries and stuff but keeping the boiler charged 24/7 maybe a problem. We have plenty of wood for fuel and water wouldn't to hard to get.
    I think in community concerns that local mill boilers could be converted to provide low power to everyone but this would take a long time to accomplish as well as lots of team work and ingenuity.

    You guys this is a viable option or am I just nuts?
  2. Morpheus

    Morpheus Columbia Gorge Anyway, back on the farm.

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    Wow, I was just having this thought the other day. A small steam power plant which could power the entire house's electrical system.
    Have it setup to run off of propane tank, or wood fire or coal fire or whatever. I've seen several small plants online, just never knew someone that tried to used one.

    I'm in the same boat, viable option or just nuts?
  3. solv3nt

    solv3nt Portland Well-Known Member

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    Most electricity is generated from steam. Nuclear, coal, gas turbine and steam turbines all use steam to create electricity.
    Redcap and (deleted member) like this.
  4. Redcap

    Redcap Lewis County, WA Well-Known Member

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    A boiler (especially constructing one!) is nothing to mess with, especially if you don't understand the power and pressure of steam very well.
  5. MrNiceGuy

    MrNiceGuy between springfield and shelbyville Well-Known Member

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    I'd rather have a diesel generator with a wood gasifier set up.
    You could run it on a wide range of fuel and they're incredibly reliable.
    safetyman and (deleted member) like this.
  6. dirtbag

    dirtbag clackamas or Member

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  7. coctailer

    coctailer Portland, OR/Hastings, MI/Vancouver,WA I run with scissors.

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    Steam is possibly the most inefficient and wasteful energy options available.

    The amount of fuel(wood, coal) to fire a steam device is massive for the amount of energy that will trickle out.

    Hydro power from a small stream would provide better results, and is possible the most efficient energy available.
  8. fyrediver

    fyrediver Seattle Active Member

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  9. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Here's the thing... steam is a viable technology, the main problem is steam power was originally used to pump water from coal mines, which is what they used for fuel (coal), you are going to start chopping down perfectly good timber to run a boiler, a gassifier so you can ... watch TV?

    I would say go whole-hog if you need steam power to run a sawmill, provide power to a factory, move large quantities of iron ore. Beyond these uses you don't get enough energy out of the softwoods that grow in the PNW to really do a lot of useful work. Now, if you set up a geo-thermal system, where your steam is essentially free... that's another story.

    If you're going to set up to use water power to... run a sawmill, power a factory, then using overshot water wheels can again be a very viable technology. The thing to remember is many of these systems simply do not scale well to small size, and you would be better off supplying power to a town than you would supplying power to an individual house.
  10. rdt

    rdt SW Portland Active Member

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    The thermodynamic efficiency of a typical steam cycle is more efficient than other combustion cycles. Steam fell out of disfavor in the mid 20th century because petroleum fuel was cheap and further gains in steam cycle technology required better metallurgy. Those advances in metallurgy have since been made. Steam power is available to the extremely careful DIYer and the very wealthy. x2 the fuel problem, though i will point out that wood fired steam heat uses less wood/winter than a wood stove. FWIW
  11. Cortes

    Cortes Tualatin Active Member

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    I think steam power is cool. I go to the Steamup at Brooks almost every year, and fantasize about buying a steam traction engine.

    Steam technology is not something that one can just start with from scratch very easily. There isn't current manufacturing support for boilers and all the other things you need to make steam power work. There's lots of tricks to it too, and not many people alive who know them.

    Wood gassification though is doable with equipment you can fabricate yourself with decent welding and plumbing skills out of surplus and junk parts. You are dealing with very low gas pressures, so it is much more forgiving.

    I don't think wood gassification would work with a diesel engine, but any carbureted gasoline engine could be adapted to work with it.

    Lots of great information about this on the web, and on Youtube.

    Back in the late 70s I remember a guy who ran his '57 Chevy pickup on wood. Every morning he would go out and build a fire in it, and then drive it to work at the mill. He got free fuel there. Acceleration wasn't very good, but it ran fine and he was in no hurry.