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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Magnetic liquids are taking off, Hayley Bennett reports, but not as their inventor once imagined


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Rocket scientists at the Nasa Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, US, were working day and night. It was 1963 and they were testing hundreds of different combustion chamber designs and injectors for liquid hydrogen engines, trying to iron out problems with combustion stability that could thwart efforts to put astronauts on the moon. Solomon Steve' Papell, an ex-Army Air Corps navigator turned mechanical engineer, was at Lewis at that time, working on a problem particular to liquid propellants. Back then, it wasn't clear how liquid fuel sloshing about in zero gravity could be guided to the combustion chamber when the engine needed to be restarted. Papell attempted to solve the problem by adding magnetic dust to rocket fuel, proposing that the fuel could be drawn to the chamber using a strong magnet.


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This could be the answer to the magnetic transmission problem - if we can answer that, we can get torque out of a rotary engine, it's only (extremely bad) drawback (1/3 the torque of a piston engine, so no you can't accelerate or haul things).

Rotary engines weigh nothing, are 30% more efficient (so 30% less pollution), have one moving part, need $5 in maintenance every 50,000 miles for it's one spark plug gasket, and should last you 750,000 miles before thermal stress finally warps the rotor. Requires a finely metered amount of #10 machine oil (sewing machine oil).

#1 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2021-06-20 07:32 AM | Reply

... Magnetic liquids ...

The Acoustic research loudspeakers I bought in 1979 used ferro-fluids in the voice coil gap (the space between the voice coil and the magnet0 to cool the voice coil without affecting sound quality.

(I found a reveiw of the speakers here (PDF): )

Maybe after 40+ years, ferro-fluids will finally have their 15 minutes of fame....

#2 | Posted by LampLighter at 2021-06-20 11:40 AM | Reply

"iron out problems"


#3 | Posted by LegallyYourDead at 2021-06-20 12:29 PM | Reply

#1 | Posted by HeliumRat

What do you mean by a Rotary Engine? If you mean a Wenkel Engine - they are horribly inefficient, lack durability and are huge polluters. Mazda finally dropped them because of emissions and durability issues. Used to be into RX7s here but in a lot of vehicles in Japan. Yes the engines are small and light and you can make big power out of them but they were shipping engines from Japan by the boat load because at 30k miles they couldn't meet Japanese emissions in the 80s/90s... 70-80k they almost always needed a rebuild as the Wiper Seals were gone. They had these heavy duty down pipes on even the naturally aspirated ones as there was so much unburnt fuel being burnt in the exhaust... I swear the down pipes weighed as much as the engines.

Same goes for Rotary Piston engines. The crankcase spins around the crank and the crank remains stationary. True there were some advantages to the engine but mostly there were disadvantages. The whole "block" and heads spinning is an issue in itself. In addition oil is consumed and not scavenged - much like a 2-stroke due to the centrifugal forces. Increasing power resulted in larger engines. This increases air resistance and it also creates bigger centrifugal issues. The Bentley BR2 was the biggest engine of this design built. It weighed in at 490 pounds - not exactly light or small.

#4 | Posted by GalaxiePete at 2021-06-20 02:25 PM | Reply

#4 I'm pretty sure the design your talking about is more like a radial engine. What you're supposed to do is make a small single spark design with the intake just being an open space on the outside ring of the engine casing and the exhaust being a missing part of the side of the casing. You can get about 10 kw out of that super-efficiently without using alloy and with only air cooling before the uneven thermal expansion problem gets real (ignition on one part only of a spinning disk), but it only has 1/3 the torque of a piston engine. Nearly silent, almost no vibration.

#5 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2021-06-20 09:49 PM | Reply

Oh, hey, ever hear of the free piston engine? It's a cylinder with a free floating piston. You fire the down-stroke on the top and fire the upstroke on the bottom, and shaft drive a wheel or if you are levitating it in a magnetic field, every time a conductor (like, say, an iron piston) passes through a magnetic field it generates a pulse of AC current, so generator.

We haven't figured it out yet, but you have to admit that sounds really obviously like something that can and should be done.

#6 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2021-06-20 10:53 PM | Reply

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