Wood fired steam turbine and generator

Discussion in 'Alternative Energy' started by SkizzlePig, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. SkizzlePig

    SkizzlePig Well-Known Member

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    I'm researching a smaller sized steam turbine and generator that can be used with a wood fired boiler.

    We'd use this as backup to our backup power generation.

    I've looked a bit online, but have only really found 5MW+ turbines. Since I don't want to provide power to all of central Atlanta, I'd like to find something much, much smaller than that.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. pancho

    pancho Well-Known Member

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    Steam can be very dangerous.
    Unless you have lots of experience working with steam it might be better to look at something else.
     

  3. ryanthomas

    ryanthomas Well-Known Member

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    Small turbines are not very efficient. That's why they're hard to find.
     
  4. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Yeah mind what Pancho wrote, steam fired anything is a tricky proposition. Now a wood gas fired genny might be a good idea!
     
  5. Jim-mi

    Jim-mi Well-Known Member

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    And yet another . . "Steam can be extremely dangerous"

    It takes A LOT of hands on to make it work . . . . . .

    No "set it and forget it" . .and walk away for a few hours . . . . . .

    Bunch of years ago at the MREA energy fair we had some *steam* guys bring in a big trailer load of piston steam engines . . . . really Neat . . . .
    I was more than intrigued . . . . . . .But with a good long yap yap with one of the guys he as well as said " It takes lots of fussing to keep the steam up 'PROPER' for it to run a generator correctly"

    The thought of tending "Super heated steam" to run a turbine is more than a bit scary...................
     
  6. dirtman

    dirtman Well-Known Member

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    Look at greensteamengine.com. I thought about this also but have decided to build a wood gas generator to fuel the engine on my generac.
     
  7. Capt Quirk

    Capt Quirk Well-Known Member

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    Dirtman, how hard was it to build the gassifier, and hook up to the generac? What did the generac run on before?
     
  8. SkizzlePig

    SkizzlePig Well-Known Member

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    That's good counsel. I certainly wasn't thinking of a "back woods steam turbine". That sounds like a recipe for one less hand ... or worse.

    I was hoping that there was a turnkey (or relative turnkey) option. Akin to solar ... panels + line equipment and you're ready.
     
  9. dirtman

    dirtman Well-Known Member

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    Haven't done it yet, but I have gathered a ton of information. Check out some of the one's people have built at instructables.com. Doesn't seem too hard if you have torches and a welder.
     
  10. Capt Quirk

    Capt Quirk Well-Known Member

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    And if you don't have torches, welder, and minimal fabricating skills? :rolleyes:
     
  11. SolarGary

    SolarGary Well-Known Member

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    Hi,
    There is a good article on small scale steam power in Issue 62 of Home Power magazine. If you don't have back issues of HP, you can sign up for their digital subscription on their site -- gives you access to all 20 years worth -- I think its 10 bucks.

    Gary
     
  12. pancho

    pancho Well-Known Member

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    Building a bomb is quite easy also. Especially with instructions.
    Building something that will produce steam is very easy.
    Safety is a big concern with both.
    Before building either it would be a very good idea to look at what can happen if you make one mistake.
     
  13. Jim-mi

    Jim-mi Well-Known Member

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    How so very true. . . . . *one mistake* . . . . . . .



    I stumbled on a utube video from perhaps a drone over there in the arm pit of the world . . . . . .
    Four guys were digging in /setting a road side bomb . . . . . .
    Audio was "How are we going to handle this" . . . . . . . .

    Then that one mistake was made . . . . . . . . .BIG explosion . . .

    and four guys are now searching for all their virgins . . . . . .

    Even if not a fatal incident, steam burns are very nasty........
     
  14. pancho

    pancho Well-Known Member

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    I worked for years in a power plant.
    We had a couple of absorbers that operated on steam. Also provides steam for other things. Had 3 large boilers. 2 were natural gas or oil fired. The other used part of the co-generation system. We used the exhaust on the turbine to heat it.

    One day we had a power blink. When we got everything running again we had a control air compressor trip out. That compressor was used to control the water fill valve for the boiler. A while later the whole building began shaking. Everyone, including me, evacuated the building. Once we were outside I decided someone had to return to try to stop the boiler from exploding. I went back in. Several steam lines had broken and steam and hot water filled the building. I finally got the boiler shut down.
    Going back in a building with over foot thick walls that were shaking like a cardboard shack was a trip.
     
  15. solidwoods

    solidwoods Ret. US Army Supporter

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  16. francismilker

    francismilker Udderly Happy! Supporter

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    Being employed at a steam fired power plant, I can only say, "just say no" to a do-it-yourself steam fired anything. You could/should spend a fortune on safety devices to ensure you and your family make it through in one piece. A person can buy a lot of gas or diesel for an internal combustion engine powered generator before he could even think of making power with steam safely.

    I"m all for one doing it themselves, I just can't see doing steam at home.
     
  17. Jim-mi

    Jim-mi Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Francismilker . . . . . . . .
    Well said . . . . .


    Also for a safe / set it and walk away system (you must look at the meters now and again) I put in, for one of my customers, a small cement block building (attached to the main barn/building) a 17kw, 4 cylinder generator powered by a buried 1000 gal propane tank. . .
    This is a off grid system with a big battery bank. . .
    There is a automated watering system for many acres of wine grapes..........
    If the big wind turbine isn't providing enough power for the well and system. . . .
    The generator comes on automaticly . . .

    I guess my point is; There is power provided for a *load* with safe/proven equipment . . . . .with out the danger involved with live steam.

    Back to what Francismilker was saying; A good 5k gennie and a 500gal propane tank would be far cheaper and a world safer than live steam...........
     
  18. reubenT

    reubenT Well-Known Member

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    Just a note here; I was interested in steam power when I was young, and studied it quite a bit then, really wanted to build something but didn't have the capability. But now some 35 years later I'm actually doing it. Given my status as a mountain farmer desperately looking for any way to disconnect from the terrible money drain that a liquid fueled machine based operation sees. But as has been stated it'd better be done right because it can be very dangerous if something isn't quite right. I'm building a 40HP wood fired steam tractor. I tried the wood gas idea already, and it works OK, had my truck running on it. But decided it was too unreliable for my ideas of running disconnected from outside input for some time, as well as needing dry wood cut up small enough to feed and burn efficiently in a downdraft gasifier. Too much work to prepare the fuel. But steam power, once set up to run, can run very reliably with nothing but a little lube oil for years with no access to a parts supplier. Will run on whatever will burn in an airblast furnace and fit through the firebox door, wet wood slows it down a little but not much.
    Normally it will take constant attention, OK when running it personally like I will be in normal tractor service. But I'll put some automatic controls on it so constant attention to boiler pressure and water level won't be an issue when running stationary equipment with it. (generator, grain mill, sorghum press, etc.)

    Of course I have nearly 30 years welding experience, do metal fabrication, foundry and machining in my own shop, and have studied steam power extensively and consulted with the experts for their recommendations. I'm building an ofeldt style watertube boiler designed for 600 PSI working with 900 test, it'll have multiple safety features; relief valve, overpressure blowout plug, automatic pressure regulation by way of pressure switch controlling the boiler blower, all set at well below the regular cold test pressure. That's how it must be done to be safe. And then I'll probably only run it at 1/3 it's design pressure because the engine I'm building can't handle the higher pressure the boiler is designed for. The engine is similar to the old traction engine style built out of various odds and ends laying around, and scrap yard junk. but it'll be on a heavy duty 4x4 truck frame for rough terrine service, since almost nothing is level around here.
    Piston engines are the best practical steam power harness arrangement for anything up to 100 hp or better, since they're much easier to build than a turbine, and to buy a turbine will be out of sight for anyone but a very rich person or an industry planning on making a lot of $$$$ from it.
    A boiler/engine combination can be bought, for a price, up towards $10,000 for a few HP. Small scale manufacture is never cheap, and mass manufacture does not exist in the realm of steam systems.

    I was working on other alternatives but have decided to finish the steam tractor just to get something going that I know will be reliable, and then go back to research and experimentation on my other ideas. I love agriculture and horses, love growing good food, but also enjoy playing with technology, building stuff and experimenting with energy technologies is interesting. RT
     
  19. lazyBum

    lazyBum Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the piston engine. But what about a flash boiler? They run at a higher pressure, but they can be a bit safer since they have less total volume of steam. And it takes less time to get up to working pressure.
     
  20. reubenT

    reubenT Well-Known Member

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    also called a monotube boiler, easy to build, fast steam, very safe as far as steam explosiveness goes because very little water is there. But also has some disadvantage, little reserve capacity and a quickly fluctuating steam supply if the heat from the source is not steady. Water pumped in has to be just the right rate. I decided to go with the watertube style for easier control and some reserve capacity, better for wood fired situation. And it still has fast heatup because there's only a few gallons in it and a lot of heat transfer area.
    One big advantage of the monotube style is it does not come under boiler regulations, is not considered a pressure vessel, because it's just a coiled pipe.