During my alternative fuel research, which earned me several science fair prizes and a scholarship, I came to develop an engine powered by Liquid Air. This engine produced zero emissions, had less parts than a regular car engine, no need for any electronic parts (which are prone to failure), and yet performed safely, reliably, and was capable of producing more torque than a petrol engine of the same size (albeit at a higher fuel consumption). The principle of operation was not too different from a steam engine, with the exception that the “vapor” (high pressure air in this case) was produced merely by running the air through a radiator, and causing it to go from 196C below zero to room temperature (25C or so). In doing so the air expanded dramatically, over 1000 times its original volume, and released 960Joules of energy per kilogram (as compared to 360J/kg for the best batteries around). The air was than applied in timed bursts to the cylinder through a valve (an adaptation of a British design for WW1 planes which allowed machine guns to be fired through propellers!). Below you will find a picture of the engine for curiosity purposes (the insulating jacket on the fuel tank has been removed to show the frosting effect). The entire project report is 24 pages long, so for the sake of saving myself editing time and web space I will refrain from posting it here. If you have any questions about this project feel free to mail me though!
Here is a display piece that I made for my science fair stand; it consists in every single part of the Liquid Air Powered Engine laid out on a wooden board in the order that they fit together inside the engine. Its a bit confusing to understand without an explanation, but it gives an idea of the simplicity of the engine in terms of parts and the type of parts used.
In order to compare my engine’s performance with that of a regular internal combustion engine this test bay was built. It monitors engine cylinder temperature, sound level produced by running engine, engine speed (through a tachometer), engine power output (through a generator), and is seen here with a methanol engine with electric ignition built in. Later on, after the tests had been performed, I started using this test bay to run engine power increase tests, which were later on applied to my model planes and even lawnmower… Tests included resonant exhausts, increased nitromethane levels and Nitrous oxide injection to the carburetor.