Solar steam piston?

Right. Still hung up on this whole solar energy thing I've been looking into steam but it all seems: complicated, dangerous, expensive, and all kinds of freakin hassle. I think this is largely because people working in this field now are just trying to plug solar energy into where the fire would normally go, but in many ways light is a lot more versatile, and this might take a complete rethink. So, after twenty minutes of ill-informed and distracted thought, how about this: Two or more pistons, each with a little bit of water or other fluid. Base is thick glass, both attached to a shaft or gear to generate rotation. Concentrated light (like 6 kW worth, or whatever) is shone in through the base of one piston. The fluid vaporises and the piston expands. When it's fully extended the light beam flips over to the other piston. That one starts expanding while the first one starts contracting. you might have some sort of heat sink which is oly applied during the contraction bit. This would be fairly low speed, but should generate a fair bit of torque and would be really really simple. Someone just stole my patent, didn't they?

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rickharris6 years ago

Build your own
rgbarnes6 years ago
Check out He has video of one of his steam engines running on solar heated water. simply design, low cost for plans. might be a place to start.
SolarFlower_org (author)  rgbarnes6 years ago
Yeah, saw that one. Seems pretty good, but possibly a little beyond the easily home makeable, and can't find anyway any actual numbers on efficiency other than "extremely efficient".
I hat it when they don't give the numbers...
lemonie8 years ago
You'd be better off using existing steam technology run off the 6Kw heat supply. To condense the steam you just generated you'd need to add cooling. Then there's sealing, the mechanics of 'flipping' the light etc... L
SolarFlower_org (author)  lemonie8 years ago
It is existing steam technology, it's just salvaging a pneumatic piston instead of making one, and building the boiler and reondensor into the unit as a closed system. Flipping the light would be the easiest part. I'm not explaining it well, let me do an animatic.
A transparent piston is not existing technology, neither is an in-piston boiler or condenser. Yeah, you could mechanically-flip fairly easily I suppose, but the whole concept is not as good as simply using solar power to produce a steady supply of steam. (I'll look at those links now) L
SolarFlower_org (author)  lemonie8 years ago
The fluid resevoir would be external and just plug into the cylinder's inlet. You could make this out of a bit of steel tube with a well fixed glass plug. The metal walls of the cylinder would act as a condensor, they'd probabaly need to be insulated or heatsunk to get the condesion timing right.
You're thinking of a "death ray" flash-boil, quick enough that gas pressure acts before too much cooling occurs? L
I happen to recall a cartoon of a Patent Attourney and his client standing at a window. The Attourney is holding an outlandish ray gun, and saying: "Death ray? Fiddlesticks! They don't even fall down."
SolarFlower_org (author)  lemonie8 years ago
That's interesting, I have another Death Ray thread going here, but that's actually literally about a Death Ray... But, yes, pretty much as you say.
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