- Jul 31, 2005
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
“I’ve been trying to think how to capture radiator losses for over 30 years,” explains the veteran camshaft grinder and race engine builder. “One morning about 18 months ago I woke up, like from a dream, and I knew immediately that I had the answer.”
Hurrying to his comprehensively-equipped home workshop in the rural hills outside San Diego, he began drawing and machining parts, and installing them in a highly modified, single-cylinder industrial powerplant, a 12-hp diesel he converted to use gasoline. He bolted that to a test frame, poured equal amounts of fuel and water into twin tanks, and pulled the starter-rope.
“My first reaction was, ‘Gulp! It runs!’” the 75-year-old inventor remembers. “And then this ‘snow’ started falling on me. I thought, ‘What hath God wrought…’”
Crower invites us to imagine a car or truck (he speaks of a Bonneville streamliner, too) free of a radiator and its associated air ducting, fan, plumbing, coolant weight, etc.
“Especially an 18-wheeler, they’ve got that massive radiator that weighs 800, 1000 pounds. Not necessary,” he asserts. “In those big trucks, they look at payload as their bread and butter. If you get 1000 lb. or more off the truck…”
Offsetting that, of course, would be the need to carry large quantities of water, and water is heavier than gasoline or diesel oil. Preliminary estimates suggest a Crower cycle engine will use roughly as many gallons of water as fuel.
And Crower feels the water should be distilled, to prevent deposits inside the system, so a supply infrastructure will have to be created. (He uses rainwater in his testing.) Keeping the water from freezing will be another challenge.
But the inventor sees overriding benefits. “Can you imagine how much fuel goes into radiator losses every day in America? A good spark-ignition engine is about 24 percent efficient; ie., about 24 cents of your gasoline dollar ends up in power. The rest goes out in heat loss through the exhaust or radiator, and in driving the water pump and the fan and other friction losses.
“A good diesel is about 30 percent efficient, a good turbo diesel about 33 percent. But you still have radiators and heavy components, and fan losses are extremely high on a big diesel truck.”
Bottom-line, Bruce estimates his new operating cycle could improve a typical engine’s fuel consumption by 40 percent. He also anticipates that exhaust emissions may be greatly reduced. It’s all thanks to the steam.
“A lot of people don’t know that water expands 1600 times when it goes from liquid into steam. Sixteen hundred! This is why steam power is so good. But it’s dangerous…”
The original diesel fuel injector system now supplies the water spray to generate the steam-stroke.
In addition to producing extra power, the injected water cools the piston and exhaust valve, which suggests to Crower that he could raise the compression ratio. “I’ve done this many times on regular engines: 15-to-1 on gasoline for the first five seconds works pretty good until you get some chamber heat and then suddenly it gets into pinging. But with the chamber being chilled, I bet 12-, 13-to-1 will be no problem on cheap fuel.
“So what we can maybe do is have fuels that aren’t quite as good…It’ll save a nickel a gallon not having to keep three grades going.”
As for his hope of lowering emissions, Bruce speculates the steam might purge “cling-on hydrocarbons” out of the combustion chamber. “This thing may turn out to be so clean that you won’t have to have a catalytic converter.
But he admits that’s unknown, saying “there’s a lot of experimenting still to be done.” Which prospect makes him smile. He thrives on this kind of challenge.
After the combustion stroke water is injected into the hot cylinder which cools and cleans it.