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back to article Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency

A fire on the International Space Station (ISS) – intentional of course – has provided hints at the kinds of research needed to make engines on Earth cleaner and more fuel efficient. Surprisingly, the experiments turned up flames burning at lower temperatures than thought possible. In the research, astronauts set fire to large …

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oh hell...

How much did it cost them to prove that incenerators do work.

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Re: oh hell...

Didn't they just prove that you could build an internal combustion engine that worked better. in space than on Earth? With Titan being all hydrocarbons, seems to me you could now get conservatives interested in space exploration...

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Re: oh hell...

Nah, you'll just now have the conservatives wanting to know how we can weaponise Titan to use against terrorists.

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Trollface

Re: oh hell... @ Trevor

Yep, just need to build roads out there for the wheels (in zero G, Velcro needed) or gasify the vacuum for the props to have something to bite. No problems there then!

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MrT
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2000AD...

... ran a storyline at one point in the mid-late 70's where the lead characters escaped from Heathrow in a Concorde Mk3, at which heat-seeking missiles were fired - cliffhanger, until in the next episode it was revealed they missed because, handily, the Mk3 had super-efficient cold engines with no heat signature even on afterburners to get airborne. They neglected to mention the plane needing to carry any sort of microgravity field generator, which now seems like an obvious omission of essential equipment to keep the pace of the storyline going (a bit like the way the characters just jumped into the plane, pressed 'start' and flew off).

Again, rusty memories on the dates and details, but, much as I'd love to see Concorde fly again, I'd rather have the VSTOL SR-71 from X-Men: First Class.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 2000AD...

Well-remembered.

http://dreddalert.blogspot.fr/2013/11/invasion-concorde.html

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MrT
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Re: 2000AD...

Wow - haven't seen those pictures in about 30 years - thanks! Had forgotten that the Mk3 looked double-decked... and all the bus jokes too.

Cheers!

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More efficient when colder?

Considering that heat of chemical reactions expanding gasses is what makes internal combustion engines work, somehow I suspect this concept is a no-go ...

That said, I'm in! Who do I have to suck to get some millions of this waste-of-taxpayers dollars?

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DJO
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Re: More efficient when colder?

Considering that heat of chemical reactions expanding gasses is what makes internal combustion engines work

No it's not, the expansion due to heat does have a slight contribution but the main force is the creation of gasses by burning liquid fuel, gasses occupy a greater volume than the progenitor fuels and it's that change that drives the engine.

A steam engine does utilize the expansion but that's a phase change not just gasses expanding as they get hotter.

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Re: More efficient when colder?

I could have worded that better. Remove "heat of" from mine. Mia culpa.

That's not "liquid fuel", that's the air-fuel ratio (stoichiometric mixture). The closer to a vapo(u)r that the intake system can make the fuel, the better ...

Steam engines burn fuel outside the actual cylinder(s), and are not germane in this particular conversation.

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Re: More efficient when colder?

Steam engines are ALWAYS germane.

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FAIL

Re: More efficient when colder?

You are totally wrong, in a well petrol (lets call it that, gas is a phase of matter not a fuel) designed engine the fuel has evaporated before it burns. Also how else does a regular engine run on gas (as in LPG).

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GEET Engine?

This takes a lot of heat out of the engine combustion process http://rebuilding.geetinternational.com/faq/

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Re: GEET Engine?

Thanks for that link - hilarious!

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Re: GEET Engine?

Is anyone actually still paying attention to these clowns?

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Either GE or GM had research on "cold flames" and cold plate burners in the 70's

However that gravity gradient makes a hell of a difference to results (hence the need to do it in the ISS).

Thumbs up for original research and the possibility that this has indeed taken it to the next level.

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Thermodynmic efficiency?

The problem with 'cold' burning is also efficiency: the ultimate (theoretical) efficiency of a heat engine depends on the ratio of hot & cold absolute temperatures (e.g. Kelvin), and the "cold" one is always above ambient in practice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_Engine#Efficiency

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"heptane-based fuel"

errrr... petrol?

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Joke

Re: "heptane-based fuel"

"Petril?"

"No, Cheesoid! Not petrol, cheese!"

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Re: "heptane-based fuel"

The best bit about that sketch was the petrol-cheese switch on the back of the robot :D

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How useful is this really!?

This data is probably only useful for static flames in low gravity environments, not for a moving flame in low gravity or a flame on Earth, because the more fuel to moves away from the flame before it can burn; I also doubt that a probably highly variable heat output flame would be useful for doing work in a given time period.

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Re: How useful is this really!?

I once worked for a company who decided not to waste time on research and instead spend all its time on "real product development."

Not too surprisingly, they ended up with no ability to develop actual new products and instead spent all their time coming up with new paint schemes, minor UI tweaks, and copies of competitors features (6 months too late). From stopping all research to bankruptcy took all of three years. (It was in a highly technical/highly competitive field.)

(The CEO made a bundle of money on his stock holdings the first few quarters that the R&D expenses approached zero, so there is that viewpoint.)

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Re: How useful is this really!?

Company has to return profits to shareholders at the same or higher rate they can earn putting it in the banks. And the banks found many ways of breeding money that didn't involve investing in anything real that actually grew. And that's where we are today.

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Facepalm

So first invent an anti-gravity device ....

... and then you could design a more efficient combustion engine? Makes sense to me. Why waste time using the anti-g to do things differently? :(

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