Oil/Steam Separation Process

Over the weekend our project was featured on the popular tech website, Slashdot. One of the popular concerns by a few folks was the issue of separating the oil and the steam after it had been exhausted out of the engine. We’ll address this here and add it to our FAQ as well.

Believe it or not, the ability to separate steam from oil or water from oil has been around for a very long time. The oil industry has to deal with this problem on a daily basis. Granted, our specific application is different, but the principles remain the same.

Something very important that must be clarified: We will not be separating WATER and oil, we will be separating STEAM and oil. Yes, it does make a difference. Because steam is a gas and oil is a liquid, separating the two is made much easier by the fact that they are in different phases. This makes it an issue of distillation, one that has been solved already.

This is achieved through a baffle system. As the steam/oil mixture passes through the baffles, the oil will have the tendency to adhere to the surface of the baffle and drop to the bottom of the separator column while the steam, being a gas, will merely pass through the baffles and up to the top of the column, leaving the oil behind.

Not only does the oil industry have this problem solved, but the early Stanely Steamer cars also used an oil/steam separator to keep the oil from contaminating the steam supply. That’s a technology that has been available to us for over 100 years!

So, with those few tidbits you hopefully have a better idea of how that process will work in our system. Do we have a custom unit for our system 100% designed, tried and tested? No, we don’t, and we’re upfront about that. Do we know what we need to in order to build one and address the issue? Absolutely.

Something for you all to ponder that we forgot to mention on our main project page… With the oil being injected in at the top of the cylinder and then making it’s way out through the exhaust at the bottom, any reason that it can’t also serve as the engine’s lubricating oil?

– Matt

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