Have you ever wanted to impress your friends with a cool physics project? Well you're in luck!!
My instructable will teach you how to build the simplest kind of heat engine. This instructable is a cheap (roughly $20 cost) and a simple idea to build for a basic physics demonstration. The total time to build takes only an hour from start to finish. The importance of this project stresses the simplicity of demonstrating a simple heat engine through heat energy converted into mechanical motion.
Building this rubber band heat engine is one of the simplest and coolest ways to demonstrate how work is done through the use of heat. You can also impress your friends by telling them you're building an "engine".
What is a heat engine?
A heat engine is a machine that converts heat energy into mechanical motion. The Rubberband engine will convert heat engery, using a heat lamp, into a mechanical motion by spinning the wheel.
How does this work?
Rubber bands react opposite of metals when exposed to hot and cold temperatures. When exposed to a (hot) heat lamp, the rubber bands will contract and become smaller. As they contract, the center axle will shift towards the outer rim of the wheel causing the wheel to become unbalanced. When the wheel is unbalanced, it will cause the weight to shift and begin to spin! Henceforth, heat energy has now been converted into mechanical motion.
Follow the next 6 steps carefully and you will soon have a fully functional rubber band heat engine!
NOTE: Building this heat engine is a bit challenging for children but could easily be accompanied by someone of the age 12+.
Step 1: Gather the Materials
- Fully functional bike rim (no tire or rubber tube)
The bike rim should be in good shape. Don't use a bent up old rim.- Small bolt cutters
Pliers will not cut through the aluminum spokes. You will need a sharp and sturdy pair of small bolt cutters.- Heat lamp bulb
You may use a regular heat lamp from any hardware store or you can purchase just the bulb and use a standard desk lamp as the source to put the bulb.- 3inch Rubberbands.
Rubber bands react the same to heat no matter what size, shape, or width. However, for the best result, I recommend 3 inch rubber bands that are a little thicker and stronger to hold the wheel and axle together.
After you have these materials gathered, you are now ready to begin building your rubber band heat engine.