Broward News

Clean Air Technology Steams Up at Pompano Eco-Invention Company

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.

​Schoell also plans on beating the steam-engine boat speed record, which was set in the early 1900s. He even built the body of the boat for his engine to power. That record stands at 45 miles per hour, he says, and his boat can go almost 60 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.
The Cyclone engine, the brainchild of Schoell, is an external combustion engine, meaning that fuel in any of several forms is burned in a chamber outside the engine. The material in the chamber burns for a much longer time and at a lower temperature and pressure than most engines on the street. Cyclone engines are to a sauté pan what ubiquitous combustion engines are to a deep fryer. The longer burn time equates to a cleaner burn, and the engine uses a centrifuge to spin out particle matter, so the exhaust from the Cyclone engine is much cleaner than engines currently on the street, according to Nelson and Schoell.

​Additionally, Schoell says, his engine has "far less parts" than an internal combustion engine, and, "It doesn't even have a transmission, and for reverse, the engine runs backward. When you stop at a traffic light, the engine stops. Your tacometer and your speedometer are the same gauge. When your engine moves, your car moves. When you stop, it stops. It's far less wasted energy."  

In addition to the engine that will be used to challenge the speed record for steam-powered cars, the Cyclone team has also built an electricity generator powered by a similar engine and a solar-powered engine.

Nelson elaborates on the implications of the cyclone engine, "Think about it, think about being able to fill up your car with diesel or gas or biofuel or cooking oil and not have to change your engine." 

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