Vehicle: Road: Material
Dust Powered Vehicle   (+2, -1)  [vote for, against]
A vehicle that churns up dust, and uses it for fuel.

Dust is one of the most abundant materials on Earth, if not the entire universe. However, despite its ubiquity it is often very difficult to see, even if it's right in your eye.

Perhaps that is why there are few known uses for dust. In fact, dust has so few known uses, and is of such little value that much energy is expended just to remove it from everywhere that it is found, which is everywhere.

Everywhere, devices such as vacuum cleaners, air filters, lint rollers, moistened cloths and hazardous chemicals are all used for the removal of the particles. Even our own bodies have developed bogies to capture and eliminate dust.

Each of these innovations waste the valuable energy contained in dust. Vaccuum bags and canisters are emptied and the dust is sent to landfill, where it returns to the dust cycle. Dusty cloths and chemicals are rinsed in the water supply where they pollute. And bogies are carelessly flicked away, or smeared where they are not to be seen. Worst of all, each of these activities requires energy, none of which is derived from dust.

Therefore, dust should be used to generate energy. All of the existing efforts to collect dust should be maintained, but that dust should be sent to special generating stations where it will be burned in easily combustible clouds to power vacuums in homes around the country

The dust powered engine is central to this plan. It is an internal combustion engine, but instead of running on liquid, vaporized, or atomized fuel it runs on dust. Some of the energy from the engine is used to churn the dust reservoir. From there dust is sucked through large tubes and rapidly delivered in small clouds to a series of combustion chambers. This either generates only heat, or also kinetic energy by driving pistons.

The dust powered engine can also power an automobile. The cliche dusty road can power the vehicle by pick-up tubes found behind each of the vehicle's tires, or in dust tanks that are refilled at dust stations, by dust station attendants.
-- rcarty, Jul 29 2012

The cliche dusty roads around here are giving off powdered rock, and I think that isn't going to burn. Other outside dust may have organic materials but it may just be fine dirt, which is rock dust.

Grain dust will explode, and the HB has an idea for an engine that uses that. Coal-dust engines were built back in the end of the 1800s, I think. Dryer lint/dust is cotton and will burn. Household dust is either carpet bits or skin cells, and may not do more than smoulder.
-- baconbrain, Jul 29 2012

What will I do with all this dust I've stockpiled?

Wait I'm not so sure about the rock dust thing. Ive seen talcum powder explosions demonstrated and thats rock dust.
-- rcarty, Jul 29 2012

According to the internet, talc is a rock, and won't burn. Powdered talc is talcum powder, and won't burn---but it will make a big cloud if thrown or popped out of a balloon (often called an explosion).

Talcum powder is used for baby powder. So is cornstarch, which will burn/explode quite well. Some people call all baby powder by the term talcum powder, which may lead to some cornstarch being called talcum powder.

I am pretty sure that I'd be dead by now if road dust could explode or burn. I've driven enough leaky old cars on dusty roads to have set the stuff off with the exhaust pipe.

Plus, every car engine I've ever looked at has a dust filter on the intake, which is the opposite of what is suggested here. Nobody bothers setting old dusty filters on fire, either.
-- baconbrain, Jul 29 2012

Someone told me years ago that dust particles help precipitation and reflect the sun's rays so that it's not pitch dark once the sun goes below the horizon. Anyone know the truth of that?
-- Phrontistery, Jul 29 2012

Likely helps precipitation, unlikely to hold light.
-- rcarty, Jul 29 2012

I don't see why not, though I suspect the phrase was "particulate matter" which would include water.

Re: the idea, sure if you can find dust that isn't already oxidised, ie: not rock dust which is composed pretty well entirely of oxides. Manure dust would likely work, granite dust no.
-- FlyingToaster, Jul 29 2012

// Nobody bothers setting old dusty filters on fire, either. //

Well, actually … Ahem. Look, if it will burn, why lose the entertainment value?

[baconbrain] is correct about "talc" and cornstarch. In fact, there's a hilarious trick with a party balloon, a teaspoonful of cornstarch and a candle …
-- 8th of 7, Jul 29 2012

// Look, if it will burn, why lose the entertainment value? //

That's what I meant, but I didn't want to bring my idiot redneck friends from high school into this. I assure you, if dusty air filters would burn, Friday nights down at the river would have been even more pyromaniacal.
-- baconbrain, Jul 29 2012

They will if you soak them in gasoline first, then you can throw them like a discus ...
-- 8th of 7, Jul 29 2012

If the vehicle in question was of interest to children, that went in a wayward direction across a snow field, AND the entire apparatus gave over its name to that of a famous writer, whom might that be?
-- xenzag, Jul 29 2012

Dustin Hoffman ?
-- 8th of 7, Jul 29 2012

-- MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 29 2012

Iasaac Asimov? Frances Spofford? Jeffrey Archer? Neville Shute Norway? Douglas Adams? John Wyndham? John Harman? Ed McBain? Agatha Christie? Georgette Heyer?
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 29 2012

Harlan Ellison? William Shakespeare? Kit Pedlar? Stephen King? J.R.R.R. Tolkein?
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 29 2012

Dusty McEngine?
-- AusCan531, Jul 29 2012

The only real ways to make this work would to be

1) have a vertical conveyor belt, attract the dust to the top bit electro-statically and then discharge it at the bottom (somehow), then the weight if the dust falling would provide some motivating force,

2) you could use water in containers on the conveyor belt, suck the dust into the water to provide extra weight on and then filter it out of the water at the bottom of the conveyor belt.

Now, if you were using "His Dark Materials" dust that would be more exciting, but would it then fall into the religion:car category?
-- not_morrison_rm, Jul 30 2012

Is it Philip Pullman? (wild guess, never read any of his books)
-- Phrontistery, Jul 30 2012

This would work better for a vacuum cleaner because of the organic nature of domestic dust. However, is flammability necessary? Would it be possible to capitalise on static charge somehow? That's as far as I've got with that one.
-- nineteenthly, Jul 30 2012

Thinking about it, it could use any dust-like white powders from, just for example, Colombia or Afghanistan.
-- not_morrison_rm, Jul 30 2012

Were it a Krebs Cycle engine, belike, though certain powders slow it.
-- nineteenthly, Jul 30 2012

//Is it Philip Pullman?

<sighs> there is someone who hasn't read them...Harry Potter they are fighting some naff wizard, dark materials they are taking on Gabriel (the one with the wings, not the one out of the Archers (although that would have been interesting))
-- not_morrison_rm, Jul 30 2012

-- DrBob, Jul 30 2012

//name to that of a famous writer// Dostoevsky of course (dust-toy-off-ski for those who don't get it)
-- xenzag, Jul 30 2012

random, halfbakery