Steam Engine Development

From Open Source Ecology
Jump to: navigation, search

Main > Energy > Steam Engine

Steam Engine
   Home  |  Research & Development  |  Bill of Materials  |  Manufacturing Instructions  |  User's Manual  |  User Reviews    Steam Engine.png

The Development Process


The product development process consists of the following steps:

  1. Gather Requirements
  2. Create a Design
  3. Specify What Will be Built
  4. Describe How to Build It
    1. Bill of Materials with Sources
    2. Fabrication Plan (Diagrams, CAM, CNC, etc)
    3. Assembly Instructions
  5. Prototype
  6. Final Product

The creation of a prototype will often reveal design flaws, hidden assumptions, new requirements, etc. This learning is fed back into the development process to create a new design leading to another prototype. When sufficient quality is reached, the product is released (leading to Marketing Plans, User Documentation, Production Plans, and other considerations).


As of July 20, 2011:

Note that in the process of creating the current design, a number of problems have been discovered [1]. Some of these are simple to correct, others may require substantial design changes (valve design, for example).

Other designs are being considered including one based on rotating valves controlled by stepper motors [2] and a return to the Ball Bump Valve Design similar to what was used in the White Cliffs Solar Installation [3].


  • 2/5/2009 - We are still developing a strategy for building the first steam engine. We have not decided whether we should cast the engine block or approach it by using stock tubing and parts.
  • 4/30/2011 - Project has been re-started based on dialog between Marcin and Mark Norton.
  • 5/3/2011 - Updated design goes into review at SACA.
  • 5/5/2011 - Design review input received from SACA. Bump valve spring issues lead to consideration of a piston valve control.
  • 5/7/2011 - Solar Fire absorbed as the official solar concentrator implementation path for OSE - with solar steam engine as the first real-life implementation planned at Factor e Farm for the September Factor e Farm Convergence 2011

Design Questions

  • What kind of steam control valve should we use?
    • Initially, we will use a dual bump valve design.
  • What will be fabbed vs. bought off-the-shelf?
  • What size bore will we use?
    • Four inch bore.
  • Should we enclose the crankshaft for safety and mess-prevention?
    • Probably not at first, later maybe.
  • How do we control oil flow out of the dribbler?
    • Initially gravity flow.
  • How do we handle water condensation in the cylinder?
    • It will be blown out through the exhaust vents.
  • How do we prevent valve springs from annealing and losing their stiffness?
    • Springs will be placed in a hole and protected from high temperature steam.

Design Snapshot

The following description is a summary of the current Steam Engine Design. For more details, please see Steam Engine Design.


This is the near-final design diagram of the open source steam engine.


  • Open Source Ecology [4]
  • Steam Automobile Club of America - [5]
    • Tom Kimmel
    • Ken Helmick
    • Karl Petersen
  • Cyclone Power Technologies - [6]
    • Harry Schoell
  • TinyTech, India [7]
    • V.K. Desai
  • Others
    • Ron Whaley, PKI Alumnus (White Cliffs Steam Engine)