Remember a couple of weeks ago when Obama's State of the Union Address emphasized the need for clean air technology and innovation? "Well," you may have wondered, "what does that actually look like in practice?"
Here's a peek.
Cyclone Power Technologies in Pompano Beach, with the help of government and private funding, is designing steam-powered engines capable of harnessing energy from waste like dirty discarded motor oil, biodiesel fuel, and even oil that washed up on the sand from the BP spill. Generally, if it burns, Cyclone's engine can use it, and according to the company's inventors, it's far more environmentally sound than the combustion engines that currently rule the roads.
The Cyclone inventors are so confident in their product that they are attempting to break the land-speed record for steam cars in August at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Harry Schoell, Cyclone's chief executive and a seasoned inventor who created the company's steam engine, teamed up with Chuk Williams, an engineer who built the body and chassis for the racecar. A British team set the current record of 148.308 miles per hour in 2009, and the Cyclone team estimates it can beat it by about ten miles per hour.
In explaining how the engine operates, metaphors flow like the steam that powers the engines. Here are a few descriptions of the engines' basics to paint a clearer picture.
"When you boil water in a pot on your stove and you see that the steam expands, and if you're in a little teapot, it's making all that noise, and that's because the pressure of the steam expanding is forcing through a little tiny whole. Well, that's the same concept that we're using here, but we're heating it up to 800 degrees... and that makes an incredible amount of power," says Christopher Nelson, a lawyer for the company.
"We built what's basically a miniature power plant, so to speak, where we control the combustion temperatures and pressures and eliminate nitrous oxides, particle emissions," says Schoell.
"It keeps burning until it's clean, kind of like a self-cleaning oven," Schoell says.
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