Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Coal/graphite internal combustion

High compression ratio
  [vote for,

When people think coal-powered, they think external combustion (steam) engines.

The idea here is for internal combustion.

One could pelletize the coal (or graphite--can one get graphite from coal?) and shoot one pellet per cycle, or perhaps the coal can be vaporized by high temperature--such as high compression ratios. With new metals and porcelain technology (one might have a seperate porcelain cylinder for compressing to a gas as opposed to combustion, which would be done by the cylinders recieving the gassified carbon) this could be reconsidered, if, as I'm sure it has been, already long ago.

Great Satan, Jun 12 2003

Long ago. http://www.niepce.com/pagus/pireus1.html
First lycopodium then coal. [Fussass, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]


       Lubrication would be pretty simple. Not certain about the particulate / smog factor. + because it has nothing to do with politics. <insert ascii smiley face of choice here>
RayfordSteele, Jun 12 2003

       Supply the fuel as a solid rod of carbon with the diameter of the cylinder. The rod is pushed down through the cylinder head. On ignition the top layer of that rod burns off with the available Oxygen. Then the rod is pushed down another few mils to keep the volume of the cylinder constant.   

       No liquid, no dust, no pellets; you can keep a few spare rods in the trunk for reserve.
kbecker, Jun 13 2003

       The problem I can see is that solid coal doesn't 'explode' like liquid fuels do, hence no expansion, hence, no piston movement. Maybe coal dust?
Cedar Park, Jun 13 2003

       Damn! When reensure started going on about compact disks I thought we were heading towards powering a vehicle with old AOL disks. Goodness knows there's a seemingly inexhaustible supply of those!
Canuck, Jun 13 2003

       surely the primary combustion products of a coal/graphite engine would be Carbon Monoxide or Carbon Dioxide depending on the efficiency. I wouldn't welcome either of these - one's a poison and one's a greenhouse gas.
jonthegeologist, Jun 13 2003


       Yes, but that's true with gasolene. The hydrogen becomes water, but the carbon turns into CO & CO2. This is true with octane, propane, alcohol, even methane.   

       This idea assumes that people are as apathetic about coal-burning-produced CO2 as they are of petroleum--though the former perhaps winding up cheaper and resulting in less dependency on foreign oil.
Great Satan, Jun 13 2003

       Diesel engines origanly were designed to run on coal dust , but it was to messy , so they switched to liquid fuel. They are makeing some Truly cool advances in small diesel engines thees days .
zippyt, Jun 14 2003

       look out for ultra hot,high velocity pellots coming out of that cars exaust . oh wait theres a pellet jamming the valvles open.i guess the pez dispenser broke.
mini1, Oct 13 2003

       Mother Earth news tested several vehicles with a coal or wood gassifier installed in the early eighties. I believe they worked fairly well but who wants to sit in the back seat and shovel the coal to them. Also they polute the same as a gasoline engine and are much higher maintenance, because they have so many more parts.
Nemo2, Aug 12 2004

       Be careful. This is what Rudolph Diesel was trying to make before coming up with his namesake. I have never read what caused his problems, but he switched fuel after his prototypes blew themselves to smitherens.
bammer, Dec 09 2004

       As I recall, Diesels first engine (his "rational engine") broke because it had a 60 to 1 compression ratio.
hangingchad, Dec 12 2004


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