The thermal energy machine that we are about to build is quite simple and cheap. But first of all, what does it do?

Our machine is going to transform thermal energy to mechanical energy, following the principal of the first thermal energy machine, built by the greek Heron. Lets get started!


1 soda can

1 needle

1 bucket full of water

3 candles

A piece of thread


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Step 1: Emptie the Soda Can

The first step is to emptie the soda can and that's why we need the needle.
We're going to make a small hole on the can, so that the content can be expelled, without we actually opening the can. Once the can is empty, we're going to do two more holes, each one next to the first hole. It is very important that all three holes are equidistant and are at the same height.

Step 2: Fill the Can With Water

After we have made the three holes, we should drown the can into the water bucket and wait until the can is 1/3 full.

Step 3: Hanging by a Thread

Now is time to build the structure of our machine.
The first thing is to tie the can in with the thread and hang it somewhere (I hung it in a piece of wood) Next, place the candles under the can and make sure they are steady.

Step 4: Setting Fire!

Last but not least... Light the candles with the matches and wait until the water starts to boil.
It might take a few minutes and the can will get darker, but don't worry! It is all part of the process. Once the water is boiling, it will evaporate and the steam is exactly what will make our machine work. The steam will escape through the three holes we made and the phenomenon will make the can spin.

Step 5: Voilà!

Congratualions, now you have your own thermal energy machine!
Here's a quick video of how mine turned out to work:

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    18 Discussions


    2 years ago

    medicne turtle cherokee very nice

    ede oliveira

    3 years ago

    Você acha que é possível replicar está experiência usando garrafa PET? com tampa...

    ede oliveira

    3 years ago

    Parabéns pelos instructable, muito objetivo e simples! Reparei a logo do Marista na sua camiseta hehehe legal ver alunos por aqui! Sou professor de Robótica no Galois, um colégio de Brasília!


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    That's because that's what this is. It's just a steam engine, AKA hero's engine, i thought we were going to see direct thermal transfer to kinetic mtion using soem sort of oscillatory or vibration motion.


    4 years ago

    what is this....

    Wow! nice work. This is like a hero engine but the design is very simple, which is good.