Kettle car breaks speed record
Celebratory cuppas all round
The British kettle car has successfully smashed the 100 year old record for fastest steam-powered vehicle.
The car hit an average speed of 139.843mph over two runs at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The British Steam Car Challenge was driven by Charles Burnett III and broke 150mph for its fastest trip over a measured mile.
Burnett said afterwards: "We reached nearly 140mph on the first run. All systems worked perfectly, it was a really good run. The second run went even better and we clocked a speed in excess of 150 mph. The car really did handle beautifully."
In total each run was 6.5 miles because the car takes 2.5 miles to get up to speed and 2.5 miles to slow down again, aided by a parachute. It took place early in the morning to take advantage of cooler temperatures.
My other car's a traction engine
The three ton car uses a two stage turbine running on liquid petroleum gas and gets through a ton of water every 25 minutes. The team website is here.
The record still needs to be ratified by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile.
The previous record was held by a Stanley Steamer driven at 127mph in 1906 by Fred Marriott at Daytona Beach. ®
sooo, the Kettle is in fine fettle
[somebody had to say it]
RE: Steam powered / driven
Splitting heirs both require the conversion from chemical to kenetic energy in the same maner.
In both cases of either internal combustion or steam driven, a fuel is used to heat an intermediate substance to drive the piston. In the combustion chamber the fuel explodes ( burns rapidily) to increase the internal temperature which super expands the gaseous material and that drives the piston. In a steam engine heated steam expands and drives piston in exactly the same way. The generated heat in both cases does not drive the piston it heats the susbstance that drives the piston. Plus difference n'est pas.
I think running a full scale steam piston engine at red-0heat levels in order to get the gas expansion rate (and hence rev rate) up to what you would see in an IC engine would be pretty near impossible to achieve reliably at full scale. High powered IC engines tend to use liquid cooling of the cylinder walls in order to keep keep the lubricant working and stopping the engine seizing up. If you use re-hot steam in a reciprocating engine and cool the walls down to a reasonable temperature, then the efficiency of the whole thing is going to suffer horribly. Thermodymic efficiency would suffer even more as it would effectively rule out using a compound engine (even if the cooler cylinder walls didn't slow down the steam expansion in the primary, the exhaust temperature is going to be much lower so the expansion rate would be slowed down).
There are very good reasons why steam piston engines tend to run at lower temperatures and lower RPM than IC engines. Even if somebody can get a small scale steam piston engine revving into the stratosphere, that isn't going to be a practical thing at full scale. Keep the really high temperature stuff to turbines where you can run them, hot as there is no direct contact with lubricants.
As far as thermodynamic efficiency goes, I think that for ship propulsion at least, a diesel engine is still the thing to beat. Thermodyamic efficiencies of over 52% have been demonstrated where the best steam turbines are still below that figure. In commercial shipping diesels tends to dominate over steam turbines (the various navies of the world have different priorities - especially where their source of power is nuclear).