Internal Combustion Microengine Has a Twist

The new microengine.   (Source: Nature)
The new microengine.
(Source: Nature)

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Charles Murray
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Charles Murray   4/23/2014 6:18:26 PM
100 microns X 100 microns X 5 microns??? Yikes! I realize this isn't a traditional IC engine, but the size is still mind-boggling. A few years agom, we wrote about the Conley Stinger engine, which had a 0.9-inch stroke. I thought that was small.



William K.
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Re: Efficiency
William K.   4/16/2014 10:32:36 PM
I also wonedr about the efficiency, and in addition, why anyone would consider salt water to be a fuel, since by definition a fuel delivers energy by a chemical reation, and is converted into a substance with less chemical potential energy. So if the salt water is recovered at the end of a cycle it did not release any chemical energy. So it could be called a working fluid but it should not be called a fuel. The input power is the electricity used to electrolyse the saltwater into whatever is produced and then re-combined. So really the invention is an electric motor, not a fuel consuming engine.

And one more question is about how useful work would be captured from this device, and would it still function if work were taken out.

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Re: Efficiency
Ratsky   4/16/2014 10:33:33 AM
I agree, but would suggest that it be labeled with the common term "electric motor" since it is in fact turning electric energy into mechanical motion.  I guess that term wouldn't have as much success in gaining PR, though.

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Ratsky   4/16/2014 10:30:17 AM
If I recall my ancient electrochemical knowledge correctly, electrolysis of saltwater does NOT yield hydrogen and oxygen, but rather sodium hydroxide (lye) and gaseous chlorine.  This is the basis of the entire chloralkalai industry!  I'm not surprised they haven't figured out what really happens inside this tiny device, since they don't seem to understand this very basic (grade-school science in my day) fact.

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Re: Efficiency
AJ2X   4/16/2014 8:57:57 AM
This does not seem to be an internal combustion engine in the usually-accepted sense.  Rather, it appears to be an electric engine (since that's the only fuel consumed) in which it is conjectured that the working fluid, after disassociating, spontaneously combusts.  It doesn't seem to me that heat or heat efficiency enters into it at all.  It's an interesting little motor but not an internal combustion engine.

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tekochip   4/16/2014 8:03:44 AM
Sounds interesting.  So, the fuel is not consumed because the gas is reabsorbed?  What sort of efficiency do they see?

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