Mindless consumption

There is a major disconnect going on in the United States regarding petroleum. Everyone pretty much agrees that we use too much, that it is ruining our air and water and that traffic jams are a major drag.

But NO ONE wants to actually do anything about it! Here we are, bogged down at war in the Middle East, with young Americans dying or getting wounded every day, and folks STILL insist on not only driving whatever size vehicle they want, anywhere they want to go, at any speed they can get away with!

Believe me, as an alcoholic that has been sober since 1991, and as an ex-tobacco addict, I understand addiction. Politically Right or Left, citizens of this country are addicted to petroleum!

The bush regime is not unlike the local crack dealer, they give the drug free or at very low cost until the people are addicted, then gradually raise the price until the addicts are willing to do anything to keep and protect their supply. Heaven help the fool who tries to reason with them to moderate their use.

The addicted go out every day and by hook or by crook get enough money for another dose of the drug that has them in a death grip. Then they faithfully return to the gas pump to get their fix – hopefully it will last long enough until they can round up enough money for the next fix!

Meanwhile, the dealer hires thugs and buys fancy cars and homes with high security using the plunder his victims have stolen from each other! The hallmark of addiction, DENIAL, is in full force and some of the addicts will even defend the dealer with their very lives. Others, who have been around for awhile, see the problem but feel powerless to do anything about it.

Another hallmark of addiction rears its ugly head, BLAME, and the addicted all start pointing at each other, the dealer, their families, their living conditions, the economy, big business and anyone else that comes to mind. Addicts will do anything to avoid taking personal responsibility for their miserable condition.

To be fair, some players in the game are wise to it and are just making the most of each day, ignoring the uncertain future their children will face. They will use all manner of rationalization and justification to avoid dealing with the ugly truth of over-consumption, pollution, and funding of the petroleum warlords. How many of these corporate puppets are just unwilling to give up the comfort that has been bought and paid for by DoD contracts?

No, for those working closely with the Dealer, life is not too bad. There is plenty of the drug available, creature comforts abound and they can even fool themselves into believing they are actually living a life of virtue because they shop at all the best stores and eat only organic food.

Well, I have bad news for these gluttonous hypocrites: You, or your offspring, will suffer for your excessive mindlessness. All the advanced spiritual woo-woo in the world will not save you from reality. Loyally doing your spiritual practice by listening to a Native American flute tune played by some white guy with long hair as you speed along in your SUV will not save you from the inevitable.

And all along the way, ever present, are pit stops to get the fix: another tank-full of petroleum.

Join the race, hurry to the next red light! Skillfully dart in and out, switching lanes, accelerate, now hit the brakes, and now hit the gas, damn! That idiot beat you to the open spot in the lane ahead. THIS is mindless consumption of an addictive drug, petroleum.

Hop in the car, run up the street for ice cream, take a ride to the “country” just for something to do, ignore the smog alerts and refuse to carpool or take public transit, THIS is mindless consumption.

There is a solution.

The solution is rooted in honesty, integrity, and as Scott Peck said in “Road Less Traveled”, a Dedication to Reality. It is time to get honest about our over-consumptive western lifestyles. It is time to accept the reality that there is not an endless supply of free resources available for our industrialists and military to plunder. The solution to the pending energy/pollution/health crisis is in a path to CONSERVATION. We simply must learn to use less. This will mean smaller cars, driven slower, more mass transit, carpools, and alternative transportation.

Conservation will also mean paying the true price for petroleum products at the pump, which will be somewhere between $5 and $25 dollar per gallon. This will bring to an end the concept of hiring a plumber to drive 50 miles to provide his service. It will be the end of 60 and 80 mile daily commutes to work and back. It will mean setting the thermostat up or down a few degrees and turning off lights in rooms that aren’t in use. No longer will we be able to leave multiple high wattage lights blazing all night to defend an empty building. Water will need to be used sparingly to reduce the energy cost of pumping it out of the ground and through sewage treatment plants.

These are all things people will need to do on a personal level. Sooner or later, we will no longer be able to just blame industry and government for our troubles – we will be forced to accept responsibility for our part in the sickness, and do the simple things to simply use a little less. We will do this for our children and grandchildren, and for the rest of the world we will no longer need to use our military to plunder their resources. The world will be at peace, when we get out of our addictive cycle of consumption, denial and blame.

The solution is Conservation. Let the Conversation begin.

Godaddy.com = Warmongers

I have recently learned a couple things that concern me about godaddy.com, a domain name registrar I have been doing business with for over 2 years.

Seeking to expand my business, I signed up for a reseller plan offered for $99 with a 30-day money back satisfaction guarantee. Within a few days it was clear I would not be happy and I cancelled the account and asked for a refund.

While godaddy promptly charged my card for the $99, and promptly shut off the service when I cancelled it, they have been exceedingly reluctant to honor their money back guarantee. I have made 3 long distance phone calls and sent numerous support requests, and the most recent response indicates they may decide not to refund after all, and if they do it will be at least a week, probably longer, until I see my money again, if I see it.

Secondly, I have learned the godaddy founder, Bob Parsons, is a warmonger still defending the lies that led up to and subsequent illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. See: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/6/20/73018/8947

I have begun transferring the over 2 dozen domains I have registered through godaddy to my new reseller plan (http://awebizdomains.com), filed a complaint with the Phoenix BBB, and now will embark on a publicity campaign to share this info with everyone I can.

If you have domains registered at godaddy.com, you can transfer them today to another registrar and you will not lose any of the registration period you have already paid for. There are plenty of other discount registrars that will match godaddy’s price, so the issue becomes service and ideology. I choose to spend my money with companies that provide good service and that are not aligned with or owned by war lovers. Good-bye go daddy.

The Noble Cause: $3 gas and the American Way

Dear Cindy Sheehan,

You want George Bush to look you in the eye and tell you what Noble Cause your son died for, and I support you in your effort. I also want to offer my view on the matter, and hope the following comments will be viewed as the good medicine is intended to be.

King George has accomplished another goal with the arrival of three dollar a gallon gasoline in the United States of Consumption.

Now that the defense industry is humming away building bombs and aircraft to deliver them, the amusement parks are full and car sales are up, so who cares about an extra $20 or $30 to fill the tank? After all, the SUV is air conditioned with comfy seating and a DVD player, so why not spend the summer driving somewhere? Right?

The royal family couldn’t be more pleased as they carefully dismantle labor unions, social services and retirement funds, plundering the accumulated public wealth of generations as a mortgage is taken out with communist China serving as the lien holder of our children’s future. This in exchange for the instant gratification of a few hours shopping spree in search of more ways to be entertained and comforted.

Despite record financial losses and horrible safety records, the private automobile and jet aircraft remain the travel option of choice for a generation of obese consumers intent on the next shopping/entertainment rush-fix. Addicted to cheap fuel, sprawl and long commutes dominate daily life in America as everyone struggles to make car and insurance payments.

The Noble Cause that Casey Sheehan died for is to protect and nurture this “American Way” of life, or in other words, he died in support of the Consumer Culture. Yes, Cindy, your son died for Disneyland, Wal-Mart and Just In Time Inventory. Isn’t that great? Do you feel better now? Ok, soon you will hop back in someone’s SUV, drive to the Airport, board a Jet Airplane to the west coast, then ride in another private car to get home.

Along the way, be assured, the Noble Cause your son died for is the cheap ride you took to get to Crawford, and the one you will take to get home when this is finally over. Your son died so that you would have cheap gas to get to Washington DC on September 24th. You think $3 a gallon is expensive? I would say at this point that gas should be worth way more than three bucks a gallon – after all, what was Casey’s life worth?

Meanwhile, reject and marginalize whacks like me that have been urging conservation for years. Insist on your right to drive 75, 85 or whatever, each person in their own zone of comfort and convenience. Justify your Jet Air travel habit as 2 million others do every day, all of which are on equally urgent missions as yours. These actions will insure the cash flow through the royal family’s registers is constant, keeping the Consumer Economy and Military Industrial Complex (the one that builds the jets and cars you use) humming. Now isn’t that Noble?

Tim Castleman, www.Drive55.org and www.PeaceTrainToDC.com

Join Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, Texas – $263-$515 roundtrip travel

Cindy SheehanLooking for a way to get to Crawford Texas?

Step off the Amtrak train in McGregor Texas just 6.7 miles from the center of Crawford to join Cindy Sheehan and get back on board the next day or any day following, subject to availability, call Amtrak to schedule your trip.

Purchase the Explore America pass and enjoy riding the rails of America, often to the very spot you wanted to get to at one low flat rate price based on 4 regional zones.

Travel Within | Adults | Children | Seniors & Disabled
1 Region – $309.00 – $154.50 – $262.65
2 Regions – $412.00 – $206.00 – $350.20
3 or 4 Regions – $515.00 – $257.50 – $437.75
Florida Region Only – $134.00 – $67.00 – $113.90

Visit WWW.AMTRAK.COM and navigate to Hot Deals > Rail Passes & Programs > Explore America Fares or just call 1-800-USA-RAIL to get on board.

Note: McGregor is NOT a baggage stop, plan to carry ALL luggage with you on board. Luggage racks are ample but follow Amtrak regulations to avoid a hassle.


There comes a time in every family squabble when the magic of forgiveness enters and divisions are healed, restoring bonds of unity that have made the United States of America what it is.

The squabble has escalated to a deep division among people who have much more in common than opposed. It is time to recognize the single greatest factor that has caused the divide is the war on Iraq and the only way to end it is to end the war.

So, war supporters, here is your chance at redemption, repent of your evil ways and join the movement to impeach the Bush administration. We will forgive your temporary insanity and welcome you back into a civil society based on the rule of law. Of course the actions of a few dozen war criminals will have to be dealt with, but we do not support a death penalty so none of them will die right away. In fact, we will even try to rehabilitate them, but once these sort have tasted glory and power they rarely return to society as more than sideshow oddities, and they are really better off institutionalized for life where we can keep a close eye on them.

So this is it for war mongers, a chance to ‘join the winning side’ now because BushCo’s proverbial ship is sinking, and fast. Early deserters will be least detectable in the coming generation! We will forgive your short-term madness, if you will abandon your love of war and help heal this nation with love and justice for all.

Some have quietly sat on the sidelines, consuming, but doing little or nothing to right the wrong done in our name. It is amnesty time for you too. Remain silent no longer, the moment is ripe and your support is no longer optional. Your actions will determine your level of willingness to forgive and be forgiven for past inaction. Going forward we are all equal in our knowledge of the truth, and responsible for what we do about and with that knowledge. A choice to continue inaction is a choice.

You cannot be forgiven unless you turn away from the things that support war and war industries. The list is long, but not endless. It is possible to live without plunder. So repent of your gluttony. Choose a simple life that uses few resources and leaves a light footprint, and forgive your past and future transgressions with a clear conscience.

Continue a lifestyle of gluttony and consumption to avoid the experience of forgiveness!

I would not want you to miss that, would you?

Video: Cindy Sheehan

Freedom and Faith

How Do You Ask A Soldier To Be The Last Person To Die For A LIE?

DriveDemocracy.org has created this brief “Cindy” video with footage from Crawford and Cindy’s appearances with us around the country at Freedom AND Faith events. It was put together by Margie Becker. Please share it with your friends and contacts. Cindy’s courageous Crawford stand is galvanizing opposition to the war and awakening America to the senseless tragedy that is Iraq.

Click Here to see Video

Click here to play in remote player

Cindy is a gift to us. This short video is our gift to you, and to Cindy.

Copyright: . DriveDemocracy.org
All rights reserved. You may republish under the following conditions: An active link to the original publication must be provided. You must not alter, edit or remove any text within the article, including this copyright notice.

Amtrak to Grand Canyon Railroad & Sedona

Sacramento to Bakersfield by train, then covered wagon (bus) over the grapevine to late-lunch with Maartje in LA. Depart LAX at 6:45PM for overnight ride on the Southwest Chief to Williams Junction in Arizona. Meet my son Cassidy at 9 AM and at 10 AM we board the Grand Canyon Railroad for a trip to the Canyon, returning that evening for dinner and overnight in their hotel. Early train the next morning to Flagstaff to fetch a rental car for a 3 day 2 night stay in Sedona, first at Los Abrigados and then at Sedona Springs Resort with my kids and whoever tags along. Scheduled to board 9 o’clock Amtrak on Sunday to Lax, transfer to the Coast Starlight for a 13+ hour ride back to Sacramento.

84 images with comments at: http://www.awebiz.com/gallery/amtrak_july05

Solar Train

I was thinking about how a steam locomotive could be converted to use solar thermal energy to replace or supplement other fuels to provide the heat and found the following two articles that seem to indicate all of the major technical issues have been solved for decades. Imagine if we spent a fraction of what we are spending on war to develop a transit system based on these ideas!


Researching a GPCS-Accumulator Steam Locomotive

The hybrid-accumulator steam locomotive idea described in this article is based on input provided by Michael Bahls (Germany) and Robert Ellsworth (USA).

A GPCS-accumulator locomotive would combine the advantages of a fireless steam locomotive with features of a conventional steam locomotive. It would borrow technology from both, combining the high-pressure (1000-psia) accumulator of a fireless locomotive with a GPCS (gas producer combustion system) firebox. Water in the locomotive’s accumulator (filled to 75% to 80% capacity) would be heated by injecting pressurised superheated steam into the water through a perforated pipe located near the bottom of the accumulator, a practice pioneered on classical fireless steam locomotives. Water would be heated to the operating temperature and pressure levels (1000-psia at 544-deg F). GPCS-accumulator locomotives would have their water supply replenished and be thermally recharged at industrial sites where high-pressure steam is available and where other types of fireless steam locomotives are recharged.

To maximise power output and operating duration, the locomotive would need to be built to the operating railway’s maximum right-of-way clearance dimensions. Several world railway systems allow railcars are built to a length of 85-ft (between couplers) and a width of 10’6″, on 60-ft truck/bogie centres. On such a railway right-of-way, the locomotive accumulator may be built to an inside diameter of 7-ft and interior length of 65-ft (10’6″ exterior diameter and 70-ft exterior length), yielding a volume of 2500-cu.ft and holding 90,000-lb of saturated water at 1,000-psia at 80% capacity. The front end of the locomotive could be extend by using a tapered section (containing the driving cab) with the coupler mounted on an extended bogie/truck. The non-tapered end would house the GPCS firebox and be semi-permanently coupled to a fuel tender unit. The locomotive would measure 95-ft to 100-ft from front-end coupler to tender. A driving cab could also be located either on the tender, allowing bi-directional operation.

Prior to the GPCS-accumulator locomotive entering or re-entering service, the accumulator would be filled to 75% volume with hot, pressurised saturated water. It would be further heated with superheated steam to a volume of 80%, a temperature of 544-deg F and 1,000-psia pressure. This would provide one-third of the locomotive’s required total thermal energy, which could be supplied from such sources as concentrated solar energy or heat-pumped geothermal energy. While in operation, the locomotive would be able to combust various forms of low cost, clean burning, low heat content (5,000 to 9,000-Btu/lb) biomass, including bio-fuel pellets, poultry litter (eg: Thetford Power Station, UK) or even bagasse carried in a semi-permanently coupled tender unit. Automatic fuel feed (stoking) using an auger screw mechanism would transfer fuel into the GPCS firebox, located on the locomotive section. Combustion ash could be transferred by a smaller auger into a holding pan located under the tender. During service lay-overs, the ash pan would be emptied (biomass ash is a fertilizer).

When the locomotive is in service, steam leaving the accumulator through the steam dome would be superheated to 1200-deg F in the GPCS firebox, then flow into a heat exchange pipe located inside the accumulator at its lower level. Saturated water at 1,000-psia and 544-deg F has an enthalpy of 542.6-Btu/lb in the liquid state. For this liquid to flash into steam, it would need to draw 650.4-Btu/lb from the remaining saturated liquid. The steam in the steam line would replenish this heat by making 4 to 5 successive passes through the firebox (for re-superheating) and lower level of the accumulator. This heat exchange steam line would allow 650-Btu/lb to be added to the saturated water, maintaining optimal accumulator temperature and pressure levels. The 6th re-superheat would occur prior to the steam being expanded in the steam engine, with a possible 7th re-superheat being used for compound expansion . A variety of positive-displacement single and compound expansion steam engine designs may be located close to the GPCS firebox, directly driving the axles.

The heat exchange steam line inside the accumulator would heat the water in a similar manner as do the firetubes inside a conventional firetube boiler. However, the steam line would be totally immune to any build-up of creosote, clinker or carbon deposits that foul the insides of fire-tubes, greatly reducing locomotive combustion system cleaning and maintenance requirements. The absence of cold water flowing on to a hot and dry crown sheet (of a firetube boiler) is eliminated in a steam-heated accumulator, enhancing “boiler” safety. Baffles would be needed inside the large accumulator to keep the heat exchange steam line covered with water. They would also reduce interior fluid wave action and splashing caused by the locomotive accelerating or deccelerating, or by changes in gradient and by lateral swaying (yaw). By using a multi-pass steam line to heat fluid in the accumulator, the (fluidized bed) GPCS firebox and smokebox could be built as a single combined unit. This layout would offer improved energy efficiency while reducing overall combustion system maintenance and cleaning requirements.

The heated accumulator in the locomotive can allow up to 65,000-lb of the saturated water to be used for propulsion, with the remainder covering the heat-exchange steam line. The total energy available for propulsion would be some 40,000-Hp-hr. If the steam engine is an oil-free ceramic unit (from the German company Spilling) capable of receiving steam at over 1200-deg F (enthalpy of 1633-Btu/lb) and operating at a thermal efficiency level of 20%, some 8,000-Hp-hr would be available to the drive wheel. This power level could allow the locomotive to pull a 7-coach double-decker express passenger train at speeds of near 50-miles per hour for up to 5-hrs at 1,500-Hp, operating intercity routes of up to 250-miles. A thermal efficiency level of 25% would allow an operating duration of 6-hours at 1,500-Hp. At the present day, a variety of positive displacement steam engine designs could be built from ceramic materials and operate without oil.

For operation on railways using the UK right-of-way dimensions, overall width would be restricted to 9′ 3″ by 65-ft length. The accumulator capacity would be reduced to a maximum capacity of 1400-cu.ft (6-ft inside diameter by 50-ft inside length), carry 52,000-lb saturated water at 1,000-psia, of which 39,000-lb could be used for propulsion. On this restricted railway gauge, the driving cab may be located on the tender (train operated with the tender leading), or ahead of the accumulator in a tapered end section of the locomotive. In service, the smaller locomotive operating at 20%-efficiency would be able to provide 1,500-Hp for a 3-hour duration, able to pull light trains along non-electrified lines for distances ranging from 120-miles to 200-miles. If engine efficiency were raised to 25%, the locomotive could deliver 2500-Hp for 2-hours and pull a fast passenger train distances between 140 and 200-miles.

Ted Pritchard of Australia ( http://www.pritchardpower.com ) has designed and built highly efficient Vee-2 compound expansion uniflow piston steam engines that have delivered up to 19% thermal efficiency in mobile operation. This engine design is quite capable of directly driving powered axles through flexible quill-drives, similar to a concept used on the Henschel V-8 steam locomotive. Two designs of rotary uniflow steam engines are also possible, one from the Quasiturbine group of Montreal (Dr. Gilles Saint-Hilaire: http://quasiturbine.promci.qc.ca ) and one from the Western Railway Group of Boise, Idaho (Tom Blasingame). The latter rotary engine design can operate without mechanical valves, yet offer equivalent minimum inlet valve cut-offs as low as 12.5%, with an equivalent maximum of near 50%. It has very low starting torque and would need to operate in tandem with a piston engine to start the train and enable low-speed operation. If the Quasiturbine was operated as a uni-directional engine, then it does not need any valves … just inlet and exhaust ports. … For a steam-powered Quasiturbine to be bi-directional, it may have to use some kind of valve system to direct steam alternatively either at the inlets (forward) or the outlets (reverse direction) ports. Two-Quasiturbines operating at 45-degrees out of phase with each other, would have enough zero-RPM torque to start a train.

A horizontally opposed steam piston engine design that can operate as an underfloor engine, is being designed/evaluated by John Davies and the S-Team in South Africa. In the Ukraine, engineer Viktor Gorondyanskiy has designed a unique multi-piston/ compound-expansion. steam engine that can theoretically operate at 35% thermal efficiency, using inlet steam at 1300-deg F (650-deg C). Using a direct mechanical drive system would reduce overall locomotive capital cost (electrical running gear can account for over 60% of locomotive capital cost). Oil-free, self-lubricating jacket heated ceramic steam expanders (engines) would be designed to operate using 250 to 300-psia pressure superheated steam at 1300-deg F. Steam pressure would be reduced from 1,000-psia accumulator pressure entering the steam line, to 297-psia using 2-expansion valves, each causing a pressure drop of 54.5% (1000-psia x 0.545 x 0.545 = 297-psia). Since steam engines give their highest energy efficiency levels when operating at part load and at minimal inlet valve cut-off ratios, large overall engine displacements would be optimal.

The operating range and power level could be extended, by re-using a portion of the exhaust steam. The Swedish Ranotor company ( http://www.ranotor.se ) designs and builds heat exchangers that can condense the steam, however, effective condensing only works on lower-powered steam locomotives. The maximum possible size of the heat-exchangers that can be fitted to a railway vehicle, restricts how much thermal energy can be managed and in turn imposes power restrictions on locomotive output. Prior to being pumped at high-pressure into the accumulator, the water would pass through several (4 to 6) coiled monotube boilers that would heat the 1,000-psia water to 540-deg F, adding 3,000,000 to 4,500,000-Btu/hr (5500 to 8200-lb/hr) to the accumulator. This could add up to 1-hour of extra operating duration and operating range to the locomotive.

The GPCS-accumulator locomotive may be operated on intercity journeys up to 250-miles, along non-electrified routes. It is an alternative form of rail traction intended for operation during an era where oil becomes scarce and oil prices escalate to levels that make alternative fuels economically more viable. Most of the componentry to build a GPCS-accumulator locomotive already exists.

Harry Valentine,
Transportation Researcher.


Modernising the Fireless Steam Accumulator Locomotive

The accumulator locomotive was traditionally a fireless steam locomotive used for shunting duties. All designs used a steam accumulator that was essentially a thermos bottle laying on its side. To be energised, the accumulator had to be at least 3/4 full of water. Heating of this water was done by an external steam source. While some designs used a coiled heat exchanger line, most later designs injected superheated directly into the accumulator tank, using a perforated pipe near the tank bottom. This design enabled rapid energy re-charges (15 to 30-minutes) to be undertaken every few hours. A cross-section layout of a fireless cooker is at http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/porter/page44.jpg .

The last fireless locomotives were 0-4-0’s built in Germany during the early 1960’s, by the Henschel group, based on research undertaken during the 1930’s by Prof. Gilli. These locomotives were small in size and were designed to operate on accumulator pressures of 1,000-psig. Some models used onboard, natural gas fired heaters and a coiled monotube boiler. This arrangement used an external an external supply of natural gas to heat the boiler and water pumped at high-pressure from an external source.The fireless Henschel locomotives were smaller that American built Heisler fireless steam locomotives, which operated on lower accumulator pressures (200-psig). Nevertheless, a fully recharged American Heisler 0-4-0 fireless locomotive of pre-WW2 vintage could lumber along for distance of almost 95-miles on its own, or tow a train of 10-loaded freight cars for distances of up to 20-miles. Porter fireless locomotives operated on a tank pressure of 150-psig (see http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/porter/porter-pd.html ). Using the performance date obtained from early fireless locomotive designs, extrapolations were undertaken to increase the operating range and power output of a modern accumulator fireless locomotive, using larger tanks storing higher pressures.

Modern manufacturing techniques can enable long, high-pressure accumulator tanks to be built out of alloy steels, at very competitive prices. A modern fireless design based on traditional concepts, could use multiple high-pressure tanks, each with its own perforated recharging pipe at tank bottom. Each tank could also be supplied with its own onboard coiled monotube boiler. Monotube boilers have been built that operate at over 1,000-psig, with 200-Hp thermal capability and up to 85% heat transfer efficiency from combustion to steam generation. Theoretically, such boilers would only be used for energy recharging where no external supply of high-pressure superheated steam is available. Performance improvements and extended operating range would result from increased thermal storage capacity and improved piston efficiency. Most thermal recharges would be done using stationary, high-pressure water-tube boilers (up to 2,000-psig) fired by gasified renewable (local) bio-fuels, or solar thermal energy stored at high temperature. A multi-tank accumulator fireless locomotive could be fully recharged within 15-30-minutes.

Research undertaken in Australia by Ted Pritchard (Pritchard Steam http://prsteam.inventdata.com.au) into modernised uniflow (inlet valve, exhaust ports) steam engines, has shown that in actual service, the efficiency levels of a properly designed uniflow engine could be double that of single-expansion piston engines. The modernised steam piston engine is insulated using modern technology along its outer (third) layer. It is also jacket-heated outside the cylinder walls to yield higher performance levels. Modern valve control in the form of precise inlet valve cut-off operation, further enhances efficiency. Earlier fireless locomotives used only throttle valve control for speed/power control. Pritchard-type uniflow steam engines could be mounted directly on the trucks (bogies) of modern fireless accumulator locomotives. An alternative engine that can operate on the uniflow principle is the Quasiturbine rotary engine, which can also be mounted in the axle trucks/bogies (http://quasiturbine.promci.qc.ca/QTIndex.htm).

High-pressure accumulator tanks enable higher levels of energy to be stored. A lower-pressure downstream tank can allow high-pressure energy storage to be combined with lower-pressure pistons. This approach is analogous the electronic “chopper” control used in DC circuitry. Small bursts of power are sent to capacitors for temporary storage, while inductors regulate reduce levels of power flow. A similar system can be used in a steam storage system. In a steam “chopper” system, a valve from the high pressure accumulators would rapidly open (fully) and shut in response to pressure sensitive valves in the cylinder-feed accumulator tanks (the steam “capacitor”). The cylinder-feed accumulator could operate at pressures up to 300-psig, while main storage tank pressures would hold pressure levels of up to 2,000-psig.

A modern steam accumulator locomotive could be built to the same dimensions of the 3-level automobile carriers used on North American railway systems. These cars are nearly 100-feet (30-m) between couplers, 9-feet 6-inches (2.85-m) wide and with a height of 19-feet 8-inches (6-m) above the head of the rail. To carry the locomotive weight, a wheel/axle arrangement similar to that of the American Penn Central GG1 locomotives’ 4-6-6-4 layout may need to be used, on a longer bogie/truck-centre spacing. The energy storage capability could be up to 20-times that of a 1960’s era Henschel fireless, with at least 50% higher engine brake thermal efficiency than traditional piston designs. Lumbering on its own at 40-Km/hr, the modern accumulator fireless locomotive could have a range of up to 350-miles. A design built to the exterior dimensions of a passenger rail coach (10’6″ or 3.2-m wide, 14’6″ or 4.4-m high and 85′ or 26-m between couplers) could still store over 10-times the thermal energy of a Henschel fireless loco. The main operating niche of such a locomotive type would be in developing countries, where few paved roads exist and where right-of way clearances would allow passage to large locomotives.

The condition of rail lines in some developing nations are such that intercity trains rarely travel at speeds above 30-miles per hour (50-Km/hr) and often slower. This type of operations allows for use of low-powered locomotives that develop less than 1000-Hp (745-Kw). Stops and lay-overs are frequent, operating characteristics that would favour a large accumulator fireless steam locomotive. Recharging of accumulator tanks could occur at rest stops or at terminals, every 25 to 50-miles. A large steam accumulator locomotive could pull a passenger, freight or mixed train over a 50-mile journey segments, distances that are not uncommon in developing countries. Certain rainy regions in Asia, Central Africa (Congo area), Central and South America would be potential candidates for modernised and improved traditional accumulator locomotive operations. These are regions where rainfall is frequent and water for locomotive operation would be available.

Such locomotives would require very low levels of maintenance and are easily repairable. Fuel supplies for the stationary water-tube boilers would be predominantly locally supplied. A small number of wayside water-tube boilers could supply energy to a relatively large fleet of accumulator locomotives, provided that they do not all need to re-charged at the same time in the same location (an extremely rare occurrence). The cost of such a fleet of locomotives would be comparatively low, while their availability levels would be quite high (due to modern thermal insulation around the accumulator tanks) and the speed over which fireless accumulator steam locomotives could be re-charged (rarely more that 30-minutes using the perforated pipe with a baffle above it). One person locomotive operation would prevail, while added manpower (stationary engineers) would be needed to staff the stationary water-tube boilers.

In sunny tropical countries where adequate water for steam locomotive operation is available, solar thermal energy could be used to assist in replenishing locomotive energy supply. Large solar heliostats would collect intense solar thermal energy. Insulated fibre- optic lines made from processes aluminium-oxide (purified & clear industrial sapphire) would transmit the intense solar thermal energy into very large, stationary, ceramic-lined and insulated thermal energy storage tanks. Thermal energy would be stored in the high heats of fusion from various metal-oxides. A low-cost material thermal storage material, lithium-nitrate, occurs quite naturally across Southern Africa. The addition of steam converts it to lithium-hydroxide, which has a latent heat of fusion of 185-Btu/lb at 460-degrees C. Superior thermal storage materials include a new generation of metallic oxide polymers (super-molecules) such as aluminium-oxide polymers, having latent heats of fusion up to 500-Btu/lb, near 500-degrees Celsius.

To prevent tank and water-tube corrosion, tank interiors and water-tube exteriors would have to be lined with a corrosion resistant material like carbon fibre or a high-temperature fluoro-plastic. Such tanks can be used onboard accumulator fireless locomotives to improve performance and efficiency, by superheating steam prior to entry into and expansion in the engine. A wide variety of thermal energy storage materials have life expectancies of several million alternating deep-drain and full-recharge cycles, with no loss of energy storage capacity. The high cost of replacement electrical batteries may be deferred indefinitely, by using such thermal storage technology. By comparison, electric batteries become spent after several hundred cycles of deep-cycle draining and recharging, requiring costly replacement. A battery-electric system only returns some 50% of the energy put into it, dissipating the rest as heat mainly during the charging cycle.

A modernised traditional fireless accumulator locomotive could be economical to operate in terms of fuel supply and efficiency. It would also be well suited to operating conditions that presently exist on several “short-line” rail systems or railways in many developing countries. Such locomotives would also be able to operate commuter service (rapid energy recharge at the end of line) and tourist train excursion service. They may even have application in commuter service along non-electrified rail lines in some developed nations. In arid/dry regions of the world, fireless locomotives would need to use a water replenishing technology such as multiple expansion valves and condensing radiators on the exhaust steam. Condensing effectiveness may be improved by using an onboard sealed “cold-tank” containing either ice or dry ice.

A variant of the fireless steam locomotive was the compressed air locomotive, built by the same locomotive manufacturers (Porter, Baldwin, Whistler, Henschel) as conventional and fireless steam traction. The two concepts can be combined into one, for short-distance operation only, in extremely dry climates. The pressurised, saturated water would be used as a thermal storage medium, instead of driving the wheels directly and exhausting steam to the atmosphere. Externally energised onboard water-pumps and monotube boilers would allow for energy re-charging, much in the same manner as the extensively modified locomotives that came from DLM. Compressed air (5,000-psi) stored in tanks in a separate car, would be heated in tubes passing through the water tanks, prior to expansion in a traction engine (such as a quasiturbine). Heat may also be stored in a molten metallic oxide polymer in a lined (to combat corrosion) and insulated tank, with coated (corrosion resistance) tubes passing through the thermal storage tank.

The energy in such thermal storage tanks may also be used to energise a closed-cycle Brayton turbine, using atmospheric air at varying pressure levels as the working fluid. The Escher-Wyss division of Sulzer built a 2,000-Kw closed-cycle regenerative turbines operating on variable pressure atmospheric air, delivering its optimal efficiency (15% in hot weather to 32% in cool weather) between 20% to 80% of maximum power output. In California,USA, the Power Now company has been testing a 7-Kw closed cycle turbine (http://www.companydr.com/vanaar/PowerNow/FAQs.htm) using variable pressure air. This type of “steamless” variant of the fireless locomotive would have to store its thermal energy supply in the latent heat of fusion of a metallic-oxide polymer. It could operate in short-line/branch-line operation on several types of railway systems. In passenger service, it could pull tourist/excursion trains, operate in low-frequency suburban commuter and pull short, light intercity trains up to 300-km (at 100-km/hr). It could also pull light intermodal trains (highway trailers on rail axles) of up to 50-cars, on intercity journeys of up to 300-km.

Harry Valentine, Transportation Researcher, harrycv@hotmail.com