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Steam Power is Not Just for Trains

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The British car Inspiration team set the record for land speed of a steam-powered vehicle in 2009.  Nevertheless, Gizmag reports that a U.S. team will be attempting to break that record as early as August.  The LSR Streamliner uses a 6-cylinder Cyclone Mark V engine.

The current land speed record for a steam-powered vehicle is 148 miles per hour.  That equates to 238 kilometers per hour.  The team hopes the Cyclone Mark V will propel the LSR Streamliner to over 160 miles per hour.  The attempt, which will only take a few minutes, will take place at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats.

The Cyclone is a heat-regenerative external combustion engine.  In this setup, the water stays in a closed system. The fuel is mixed with air and burned to heat the coils of water.  The super-heated steam produced pushes the pistons to turn the crankshaft.  That steam then condenses and gets pumped back into the coils.  The hot air goes into a heat exchanger to heat the air that is on its way to the combustion chamber and cool the exhaust.

The Cyclone can run on any fuel and produces fewer emissions than internal combustion engines.  The team considered modifying the engine and combustion chamber, but decided to attempt to break the record with the engine as it might be one day be seen in a regular car.  This will better represent the power, clean emissions, and multi-fuel capabilities of the engine.

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