Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Internal crystallization Engine

I.C.E...or motor ala mode.
  (+20, -3)(+20, -3)
(+20, -3)
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By igniting a combustible fuel trapped within a cylinder it is possible to drive a piston and create an internal combustion engine. Seems to me that there should be more than one way to skin a piston.
So instead of combustion which has a limit as to how much energy can be extracted from the chemical reaction, how about utilizing the expanding properties of ice which, (correct me if I am wrong), has much greater force per volume when it comes to push.
I am picturing a series of cylinders full of water with pistons which can not be fully compressed, wrapped in solar powered heating coils awaiting winter.
As the water freezes it has no choice but to drive it's piston upwards. Connected to the top of the piston is a large and extremely heavy, (I mean extremely heavy rod), the end of which is connected to a lever. The weight of the rod needs to be sufficient to drag the end of this lever back down once it has been raised. This will be no four stroke engine, probably closer to fourty.

All of the cylinders are solar heated to keep the water in its liquid state and one at a time the heat is withdrawn. As the water in the cylinder freezes it drives the piston upwards imparting spin, through a series of gears to a main flywheel, the next cylinder is now freezing and the first is heated allowing it to drop. This will take some time which is why so many are needed.
Depending on the size of the flywheel, I think that quite a bit of electricity could be generated in the winter if you happen to be lucky enough to be far from the equator.

Useful info http://www.benbest....onics/pressure.html
The second section has useful information about the relationship between pressure and crystallization temperature of water. [scad mientist, Oct 11 2004]

Stirling Engine http://www.stirling...e=public&faq_id=1#1
[dlapham, Oct 13 2004]

ICE Seeking Poly Ice-Bots Horrible_20Terrible...g_20PoIy_20Ice-Bots
This works in any freezing weather without solar assist or years of research. [mensmaximus, Dec 21 2004]

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       Ah, but there is a difference between force and power.
Power = force x distance.
Force is BIG.
Distance is small.

Finally power is not very much. It would be less than the power that you input from the solar panels.

But it gets the prize for the slowest engine..every ice age the crankshaft does half a turn. Maybe.
Ling, Oct 12 2004

       Totally awesome, a ponderously slow croissant for you.
absterge, Oct 12 2004

       Wow, the extreme case of 'hydraulic'-ing a cylinder.   

SUNDAY Sunday sunday ..."

       (er, since the freezing takes place inside the cylinders, isn't it an "Internal Crystalization Engine"...befittingly acronymized as "ICE"?)
half, Oct 12 2004

       No need for such heavy weights; springs will do.
ldischler, Oct 13 2004

       Definitely [Half] a name change is imminent.
Springs are good. Also, if the fulcrum is close to the piston and has a long arm a lot of movement could be made from a little.

       The government has had cars that run on water for decades. This must be how they work.
Laughs Last, Oct 13 2004

       Darn you, I was going to halfbake that next. Crosses that off list! ++   

       Actually, my idea was a seasonal engine, where the freezing and thawing of water over the seasons in a temperate zone could feasably move a city in a giant lake sized engine. Should I still halfbake that?
sartep, Oct 13 2004

       Sounds different to me.   

       Sounds a lot like a Stirling-cycle Engine. Only it uses water in it's liquid/solid state rather than gas.
dlapham, Oct 13 2004

       A very worthy idea - big soggy croissant +
Nontaigne, Oct 15 2004

       I like the idea of using it as a controlled form of glacial drift, q.v. [sartep].   

       Perhaps if you made alot of really skinny pistons? I think that the force would still be massive, but with less room to expand in, the water would move farther.   

       Finally, realize that ice under immense pressure turns into a liquid, thanks to the same molecular sturucture that you are exploiting to make this ICE.   

       + anyway because it's cool.
Macwarrior, Oct 15 2004

       Seems like this idea might be useful for some kind of millenium clock. You know, the projects trying to create a timepiece that will be functional thousands of years into the future. Remove all of the silly solar powered bits, and place this somewhere where it will freeze every winter and thaw every summer. Once a year the second hand will tick once.
Worldgineer, Oct 15 2004

       Might this idea more appropiately reside in the Energy:Thermal category? No much about ice skating here. Still, one frozen bun for you!
gardnertoo, Oct 15 2004

That was so not the category I thought I picked, thanks [gardenertoo]. Changed.

       //wrapped in solar powered heating coils// The cylinders wouldn't be wrapped in anything. They are trying to be exposed to freezing surrounding air in your idea. See link to a working version using real ICEs.
mensmaximus, Dec 21 2004

       [Mensmaximus] - please fix link! This principle could be done in area which have a big temperature shift between day and night - I am not sure deserts drop enough below freezing to pull this off but on other planets this would likely be the case.
bungston, Dec 21 2004

       Some people can think in the cold and no one here came to any conclusion as to whether it is more efficicient to freeze large flat thin masses of water between two plates or finger thin icicles in cylinders.
mensmaximus, Dec 21 2004


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