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Thursday, July 2, 2020 

A UK company, Steamology Motion, has developed a zero-emission steam turbine as a diesel engine replacement for rail freight locomotives, and which it believes has considerable potential for marine applications.

According to the company's commercial lead Matt Candy: "Steamology zero-emission power systems are well suited to the high power demands of the maritime sector. Steamology can deliver electrical, mechanical or hydraulic power at the megawatt scale, as well as combined heat, steam and power options."

The company was established to commercialise technology developed for a land speed record project in 2009, in which a 7.7m long steam turbine-driven vehicle, referred to as 'the world's fastest kettle', achieved a speed of 139.8 mile/h at a US air force base. The technology, as further developed by Steamology, generates steam from compressed hydrogen and oxygen gas stored in high-pressure tanks. The superheated steam is then used to drive a turbine - rather more advanced than the antique version illustrated - which can generate electricity.

Steamology proposes to use renewable energy sources to power electrolysis to generate the hydrogen and oxygen gas and to compress the gas into storage tanks. The company says its complete cycle is emission free, producing no carbon, NOx or SOx emissions in a repeatable cycle without charging losses. It says it adopts a ‘Cradle to Cradle’ approach to design, wwhich means using no rare earths, toxic materials or exotic manufacturing processes, allowing products with simplified service, maintenance and long service life.

The rail application of the turbine secured funding under the UK’s 'First of a Kind 2020' competition. Over a nine-month period starting from 1 July the project will devlop a rail power unit, and after its completion Steamology says it will look at the engine’s suitability for use in ships.

As well as elimination of emissions to the atmosphere, Steamology cites various other benefits including:

  • Low carbon freight transport
  • Improved air quality in enclosed spaces
  • Sustainable and recyclable materials that reduce whole-life carbon footprint
  • Reduction of noise and vibration

Steamology claims a proven record in delivering complex functioning systems.

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