Why a Steam Engine?
Externally fired steam engines can use a range of woody or waste fuels – for instance turning local weeds, wood and waste paper into fuel and renewable energy.
In a steam engine there is no internal combustion; ie there is no explosive combustion of fuels inside a cylinder that produce high pressure wave fronts, unburnt hydrocarbons, nitrous oxides, noise and other issues confronting internal combustion engines.
Steam engines combust solid fuel in the most efficient manner possible, in a furnace, and then use the energy released to 'raise steam'. It is the mass of steam injected into the cylinder that expands and drives the piston. Because externally fired engines are very tolerant of fuel quality the Uniflow Generator creates the opportunity to directly combust 'low grade' solid fuel and create useful rotary power from which electricity can be generated. Low grade fuels suitable for direct combustion could include rice straw, nut shells, sawdust or any local weed species, waste paper or cardboard or specially grown firewood crop.
The engine block of the advanced Pritchard 33.5 V-Twin uniflow engine
Uniflow Power is dedicated to achieving the mass production of its small scale, biomass fuelled steam engine that has the capacity to deliver energy independence to millions of people presently dependent on fossil fuels.
Because there is no internal combustion, the S5000 is very quiet. In applications where it is being used to replace a diesel or petrol powered generator the low noise of the S5000 will be an enormous improvement in comfort and utility, allowing operation of the device indoors (with appropriate ventilation or external flues) and right beside other activity such as community or health centres, schools or workplaces, without the imposition that the roar of internal combustion generators can create.
The patented boiler does not use an accumulator, steam chest or 'pressure' cylinder but rather is a 'flash' boiler. We call it a 'steam generator'. If the mechanical power of the engine is not needed, the small and highly efficient steam generator can be used directly to produce either wet or dry steam, and thus deliver sterilizing, distillation, process heat, hot water and space heating depending on how the steam/water circuit is configured.
The Uniflow Generator has the potential to deliver a system that could comfortably power and heat an average suburban home, providing hot water, electricity and space heating, all from pelletised wood fuels. This is referred to as CHP, or combined heat and power.
Using high quality pelletised fuels a Uniflow CHP system should produce no visible smoke and be able to be largely automatically controlled like other modern home heating system. A program of work is also underway to develop a system that would run off natural gas for those applications where use of renewable solid fuels was not practical and where gas is available.