Author Options:

Is it economically feasible to create steam powered semi trucks? Answered

Is it possible to create steam powered semi trucks for applications where power is more important than speed? I think that with all our knowledge of steam technology and materials it should be given serious thought especially in light of current problems with fossil fuels. If the fuel of choice were to be, let's say hydrogen, then short range "trains" should be possible.

I found this image over at deviantart.com and think it would be a good starting point: http://browse.deviantart.com/?q=gunslinger87#/d2mfjvk


I agree with mpilch. Steam engines are not efficient. Energy is lost any time it changes form. Steam works for dirty fuels like coal that wont work in an internal combustion engine, and nuclear, where an expanding media is needed, but anywhere internal combustion is feasible, it will be more energy efficient.

Don't forget that steam engines required fossil fuels to create steam. If you replace diesel fuel engines for coal fed steam engines you are not resolving anything.

Steam engines can run on any sufficiently-energetic heat supply.

Power stations are, effectively, steam engines with no wheels, and some of those are nuclear.

I can foresee a need for steam-powered vehicles fuelled with organic wastes.

Wouldn't be more practical to built petrol engines with adapted gasifiers instead of steam?
Also, correct me if I am wrong, I understand that diesel engines are more efficient and practical than steam engines in applications when torque is required like trucks and trains. That and, the safety concern of internal pressure in steam engine boilers, have made diesel engines the prefered mode of power.

Meh, maybe, but steam is more fun...

He is saying the fuel of choice would be Hydrogen.

Hydrogen is better used in a combustion chamber then in a steam engine. There is a lot of energy lost trying to heat and reheat water. A well tuned combustion engine will make better use of the fuel. Just one of many reasons no one is trying to build an alternate fueled steam engine. Not to mention the number of problems with trying to use hydrogen as a fuel source. Never mind the stigma it carries. You have to have a safe way to store a large enough amount of hydrogen to make it viable. To do that it has to be stored in liquid form under very high pressure. Not to mention the energy needed to produce the hydrogen initially. As i understand it the best way we have to produce hydrogen is passing a large electric current through a pair of electrodes in water. Then you also need the equipment to pressurize and cool it to liquid form. I won't even go into the problems with trying to establish the infrastructure to support hydrogen vehicles.

I understand that there is a way to obtain hydrogen from natural gas. Don't know the advantages or disadvantages compared to the way you mentioned, but I agree that hydrogen is the next step in the evolution of our energy consumption.