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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just finished reading a few books on the history and technology of steam locomotives, and it makes me wonder what a steam engine would be like if one were to built today, from the ground up. NOt a copy of earlier designs which are all 60 years old or older by now, long before micro electronics or computer control were even imagined. We have different materials available now. We have a different ethic in terms of energy use.

I'm guessing it would probably be a steam turbine, with a duplex drive, and would use computers to monitor the air mix, steam heat and moisture content, and regulate wheel slip like the traction control on a car. But I don't know all that much. Has anyone ever tried to take stab at designing a 21st century steam locootive?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Complexity. My car is much more complex now than my car in 1980. For the most part, the changes are better--it gets better mileage while delivering more power, it pollutes less, it starts more reliably, it's significantly safer. Of course it's much harder or a shade tree mechanic to work on.When I think about the changes tat have come to cars since 1970, I wonder what sort of influences might be applied to steam?


I suspect Richard is right--it would look nothing like the steamers of old. I'm no expert, not even remotely close but it seems to me some kind of turbine drive would work if you could inject the steam as fuel is injected in a car--something they could not do in 1950. But then again as I said I'm no expert. What's the downside of a turbine drive? No pistons to wear, even delivery of torque, no hammer effect--seems like it would even have less parts. . I assume there are solid reasons why it's unworkable?
 

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I'm the original poster--not getting at anything, just interested. People who study the history of technology are interested in why some technologies win out, and how those circumstances change. For example, AC vs DC. The advantages of AC were overwhelming at one time in our history, and for the most part still are. You could transmit electricity long distances with few losses, and you could centralize generation, which fit the prevailing business model of the time. If that debate were taking place today, when we have more concern with "green" energy, I think DC would look better. How many of my home devices have a converter to take the AC to DC?. A neighbor put up solar panels on his house--he loses a lot of efficiency, and adds complexity and cost, converting the DC from the panels to AC. Nobody think stwice about home heat generation--every house in the US has a furnace. Home electricity generation is possible (maybe not desirable), and my simple point is just that in some ways, it looks like a better idea.


So I'm interested in what might make steam a viable alternative. I had no idea about the projects like the 5AT or the ACE3000. I learned a lot. Thank you!
 
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