Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Reciprocating-piston internal combustion combined lighting-heating-generator unit

All in one - useful in emergencies.
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The proposal is for a compact 2-stroke engine, with the cylinder and head fabricated from a transparent refractory material, possibly a specialised quartz glass. The unit is air-cooled and the fins are so arrange as to no only cool the combustion chamber but to diffract and diffuse the light produced by combustion in interesting ways.

The unit is crankcase-scaveneged and runs at relatively high RPM, to reduce flicker. A unique 2-stroke lubricant blend will be used to provide low friction at the cylinder/piston-ring contact point, and to prevent ash and carbon deposition which might reduce light output.

A ducted fan at the rear of the cylinder cools the cylinder by blowing air over it, thus heating the surroundings.

The output shaft of the engine is attached to an approipriately sized generator.

Exhaust gases are routed to the outside air through a long tailpipe and silencer assembly.

The fuel could be octane or LPG.

Thus one small unit provides heat, light and electrical power. Multi-cylinder designs would produce lower flicker.

In emergency situations, generators are often used to provide electrical power for lighting. This unit provides lighting as a by-product of combustion and the electrical power can be used for other purposes.

8th of 7, Jun 02 2008

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       I really like the idea, especially picturing the thing especially the gemstone-like quality of the casing.   

       Could you really minimise the carbon/ash effectively? (I'm guessing that it can't really be eliminated)   

       (Also : Since my I have no knowledge of mechanics, and you tend to know what you're talking about I'll assume the engineering is all sound. Bun for aesthetics if nothing else!)
Jinbish, Jun 02 2008
  

       // Could you really minimise the carbon/ash effectively? //   

       Maybe not - run it on hydrogen, or hydrazine ?
8th of 7, Jun 02 2008
  

       With reference to my utter ignorance on the subject of all things engine related - wouldn't hydrazine burn *really* hot. Isn't it rocket fuel?   

       I guess that's a good thing though - it's carbonless, and the extra heat and light is to be used elsewhere...
Jinbish, Jun 02 2008
  

       //lighting as a by-product of combustion//   

       People have been using this for a long time.
neelandan, Jun 03 2008
  

       Surely a turbine would be a better type of engine, with multiple stages of compression, and a portion of the air from each stage flowing around the outside of the next stage... thus, each glass pressure chamber only needs to contain the pressure difference between one stage and the next. Also, since the pressure doesn't rise and fall as in a piston engine, there's much less stress on the glass.
goldbb, Feb 25 2009
  

       D'oh, why not a steam or Sterling engine? This eliminates the need for a pressurized combustion chamber... the high pressure bits can be metal, with more ordinary glass or quartz or mica, etc., to let the flame's light shine out to illuminate the surroundings.   

       Of course, a working, see-though internal combustion would be pretty nifty, too. Hmm... does anyone remember a toy called "The Visible Man?"
goldbb, Jun 13 2012
  
      
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