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Paper two stroke hydrogen engine Answered

 Ok so I have this crazy idea to make a two stroke engine out of paper that runs on hydrogen and well ive allready built part of it just the piston head and cylider and stuff but if i lined the inside of the cylinder with tin foil would that be enoth to keep the paper from burning? and so ya anyways the engine of i have made allready is very sturdy each peace is 10 sheets of paper or more compressed for over 24 hours 

now the compression im not two worried about because its more of the sheer pop of the explosion that will push the piston down well i guess thats how it is anyways but if the gas ignites anyways with oxygen why have compression  for this anyways because the explosion is going to be soooo small anyways that it wont really matter much.

 the overall size of the engine is about almost 2" tall by about 1" wide on the widest part the bottom .

So um I know by now im classified as "CRAZy" but that asside can i get some opinions and ideas plz. thanks MRN


A good diesel engine will top 40% thermal efficiency, you are not going to beat that, so t least 50-% of your thermal-energy would be going into the engine-block / exhaust. Paper is not going to work for you for very long. You'll have sealing problems too.


Agreed...and aside from that, the engine would not have any sort of application whatsoever, because the paper engine is not going to provide enough torque.  Perhaps PVC?

 yes pvc would be good but the point is to see if its plausible to be done with paper and as far as the torque what do u mean by that? why would it make a difrence with paper? 

.  Paper, in any "normal" form, is not strong enough to handle the stress of a Hydrogen explosion. If it can, then you have the problem of converting linear motion to rotary motion. Throw a lot of friction into the equation. Unless you found your paper at Area 51, I just don't think it can handle it.
.  It's a great model, but you're not, IMNSHO, going to get it to run as an ICE. You might be able to run it at very low speed for a few seconds using compressed air.
.  But I'm no expert. See if you can make it work. Just be aware that it may blow up in your face and take the proper precautions.

I agree about the precautions and the potential for a BOOM on the first run but I like your grit.  I think if more people attempted the impossible and challenged normal thinking we would already be having tea on mars. 

As it is, my two cents tells me that you should also focus on lubricant for a while.  You need to find something that will not degrade the strength of your paper or cause it to break down entirely.  Some lubricants can have solvents and in this case I think some will simply be a solvent.  This could help shield the paper from water(atleast for a while) as your lubricant could be hydrophobic.

Also, how do you define a paper engine.  Does it have to be 100% paper?  Just the load bearing areas?  or Just the cylinder?  Just thought it would be a good idea to define what a paper engine is to make sure you don't cheat yourself out of a truly awesome project.

Also, if you do get this to work and it actually has even the slightest torque I might try to build one and use it as an outboard for a cardboard boat.  The judges at competition would be blown away.  LOL.


8 years ago

Paper is a lovely composite material, but it doesn't have great wear resistance. In fact, wear resistance is probably more of an issue then heat.

Moving parts made out of paper, especially if they move while in contact with something, don't hold up very long. Paper is actually a very mild abrasive, with finer grades of paper having less grit to them.

You might experiement with an aluminum foil lining to improve the wear resistance. Aluminum can rub on things and it doesn't intrinsicly degrade other materials as it does so.

As for heating issues, obviously a heat stabele glue is a must, but... something that might help that maybe you haven't considered is the fuel.

A number of small hydrocarbons produce freezing effects as the rapidly evaporate at atmospheric pressure. If your engine had a small amount of liquid fuel added to it, it'd help cool the cylinder and increase comp[ression as the liquid became gas. There's a number of lighter fuels (like the type used in Zippo's) that'd work for this.


Reply 8 years ago

 Ya i actually have put a tin lining in in the cylinder head after i took the pic i need to update that actually but anyways the fuel i am using to power it will by hydrogen and ill make it by the splitting the water with a battery ive got the system worked out see my diagram down a few comments. 

and the paper isnt just a sheet its 10 to 12 sheats glued and cut to the shape i want and is very sturdy. but yes i agree the friction could be a problem but with the tin i think it will be ok.


Reply 8 years ago

One of the few problems with hydrogen is that it puts out alot of heat compared to other types of fuels.

Where the paper will act as something of an insulator, thus retaining heat, this could quickly become problematic.

As for the tin, it'll weather the mechanical wear as well as aluminum, but it has a habit of melting at relatively low temperatures. That's part of why Tin is used in solder.

I think this is a cool idea, but I'd be a littel concerned with how it's gonna work out.


Reply 8 years ago

 ya im reasearching what the temp of witch tin melts i really dont think that will become a problem because the explosions will be so small and ya having a bunch within a few seconds will wear and possibly melt the tin but ill come to that when i get it atleast running.

but yes i might have to put some other kind of liner in side.


Reply 8 years ago

I should be clear... I think this is a nifty Idea, but I like to layout what I see as the engineering challenges to accomplishing this task.

The wikipedia list's elemental Tin's Melting point as 231.93 degrees celsuis.
It also states that Tin has a specific heat capacity of 27.112 Joules per mol per unit kelvin.
The Wikipedia goes on to say that the enthalpy of combustion for hydrogen is -286 Kilojoules per mol.

This information coupled with the pressure that you're running the motor on will tell you how quickly it will heat up and thus how fast you have to get rid of heat to prevent it from reaching 232 degrees celsius.

I doubt he's got tin (Sn) sheet, I believe it's "tin" as in iron.


I see.
<_< that makes a significant difference.

A steel liner would help, but the valve-system isn't there yet.


Nor do i see an ignition system... both are pretty necessary for a functioning internal combustion engine.

Quite, and it'll take some metal to make one too.


.  I predict that heat will never become a problem. If the OP is using paper and glue that is found around the house, he will have a bunch of confetti the first time it fires. And quite possibly hearing damage - H2 explosions are LOUD.
.  And I just don't think the OP can make a DIY cylinder liner for that contraption that will seal around the piston very well. And how is he going to hold the head on (not to mention design/implement a valve system). And then there's the friction of paper-on-paper. &c, &c, &c.
.  As you say, it's a "nifty idea" and I think it's a great model, but the chances of this thing running as an ICE are nil, IMNHSO.


8 years ago

 ok um heres a quick diagram i guess i did in sketchup real quick it just basicly shows what im inteding to do. plz anybody go ahead and put your two cents in.


I agree with what everybody else says, but imagine if you could make it actually run, even for just a few moments.

I say go for it.

Keep taking photos, and use the best quality video camera you can when you video the run.

Even if you never run it with fuel, it's a model worth making.

 um no it doesnt acutaly start if thats what you mean by turn over sry i just ment spin realy good when i twist it with my fingers but ya anyways.

 ok ill keep posting updates ive got a piece of a pop can in there to protect the cylinder against the heat and water. And if you take the little shaft that comes out from the crank shaft and spin with your fingers it gets a nice clean rotation about 5 or 6 in one quick twist. But anyways does anybody have a ideas for some kind of ignition system. 

thanks guys

So it turns over? Then definitely continue, as kiteman said, make sure to document.

Maybe one of the tazer projects?

(And never mind updates, publish a proper Instructable!)

Oh actually the tiniest electric shock, if it'll make a spark a simple distributor style ignition system could be a good way to make it work.

Oh and kiteman, this idea is the best illustration of the first law I've ever come across... It doesn't matter if it goes wrong it's such a project...

The construction looks beautiful for the medium, somehow I don't see it working, however I'd finish making it and test out how it works overall, the sealing and everything, you could always build one out of a more suitable material later on.

Also if you manage to get the engine running it'll quickly fail as water from combustion would swell the paper up very fast, if the heat doesn't get it first, that's not just with hydrogen either any combustive reaction will produce water.

I don't want to discourage this though, it's really well made and completing the project would be worth it.

 ya i thought about the water and the heat and was thinking taking eather a peice of aluminum from a pop can or some tin foil and lining the inside of the cylinder with that so that would stop the burning of the paper and and the water wouldnt effect the paper.