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Liquid Nitrogen engine

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by A boy named Sue, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. Would you ride a liquid nitrogen bike? Should have full torque at zero (or at least low) rpm (like a steam train).


  2. hmmmm... beats putting petrol in your cocktails....
  3. Interesting idea.

    However the problem with all these things is the chicken and the egg thing. How do you get people to drive something they can't buy fuel for and how do you get petrol stations to stock something they have no customers?

    If liquid nitrogen becomes regularly available, how long before we have people getting frozen and shattered?
  4. I'm more worried about confined space and liquid nitrogen leaks. Also methanol is toxic so how much is stored in the vehicle (if used as a "catalyst" to hasten liquid nitrogen expansion) and at what concentration?

    It seems like a good idea though.
  5. Methanol's a lot less toxic than petrol though, and people don't seem to mind having 50+ litres of that stored in a vehicle.

    Liquid nitrogen makes a lot more sense than hydrogen at this stage, simply because the technology for safely transporting and storing nitrogen already exists (it just needs to be adapted).

    Not sure how well it'd work for bikes though given how much tank space you lose in insulation volume (and the fact this loss gets worse as the tank gets smaller). There's also the problem of expecting modern vehicle owners to fill a water and a methanol tank - when so many now can't even refill a windscreen washer bottle.

    Personally though I think the short-term solution might lie in the zinc-air research being conducted mainly in China. This is based on the same principle as a watch battery, but using cannisters of fine powdered zinc that can either be pumped into a tank as a fluid (after the spent zinc oxide has been vacuumed out), or for smaller vehicles designed around swap and go containers. Plus side is that zinc prices are quite low, and that it would be relatively easy and inexpensive to reprocess the spent zinc oxide back into zinc metal. Downside of course is that you can't "top up" the tank.

    Of course more than likely more than one technology will prevail. In much the same way we now have petrol, diesel, and LPG pumps now - we might have nitrogen, hydrogen and zinc pumps.

    Alternative fuel research should be encouraged. The more general public that can be put in electric vehicles the longer petrol will last for those of us who truly appreciate internal combustion engines (rather than just using them as a means to get from A to 8). :)
  6. Do they display toxic signs at the petrol stations at all? I have never really noticed any :?. Genuine question here. I ask because most likely if methanol is to be used at a service station, there will be toxic hazard signs plastered all over it which might make people more reluctant to use it. I'm sure there would be a healthier alternative to methanol through the research over time.

    Hydrogen storage is rather lacking this day and age...however I know some people who are currently working in solid hydrogen storage solutions which might solve the heavy metal tank solution. Will be interesting to see their results in the next year or so (assuming there aren't anymore budget cuts).

    Adapting liquid nitrogen system to existing cars would be interesting to see.
  7. There's a lot of things they don't do at petrol stations that would be illegal if it were any other chemical. The Government just knows that trying to enforce things like wearing protective goggles and chemical resistant gloves (as recommended by the MSDS) at petrol stations would lose them a lot of votes. I also suspect they don't want people thinking too much about the potential dangers, or they might buy less petrol (and pay less tax).

    Coincidentally both methanol and petrol seem to have the same hazard rating when it comes to health (ie rating 1 or only a risk of mild skin irritation). However many of the additives used in petrol, particularly benzene which makes up a few percent of the total volume, are proven carcinogens. Whereas there is no proven link between methanol and cancer (and nothing to suggest that there would be). For some reason known carcinogens are not considered dangerous enough to require warning signs.

    Only real difference is that methanol is a lot more toxic if you drink it (requires roughly 3 times less quantity to be lethal). Of course the average person would still have to drink half a litre or so of pure methanol to exceed the LD50 dose, so not exactly the sort of thing you do accidentally (only if you mistake it for vodka - as has certainly happened before).
  8. Most wood/plant smoke is carcinogenic isn't it? having to put signs around fireplaces would just be moronic.
  9. Interesting paper here on the zinc-air technology I mentioned:

    Use for buses seems quite promising, as does the potential for use in small scooters when combined with a second, more expensive, battery type to boost maximum power and allow regenerative braking. Not likely to replace petrol in high-end sportsbikes any time, but does like a viable alternative to the vast majority of 2-wheelers sold (ie sub 125cc scooters).
  10. Yes. Which is why wood fire places are being banned in a lot of places (including parts of Australia) instead.
  11. http://www.theengineer.co.uk/sector...e-an-alternative-to-batteries/1011156.article

    looks like the economist didn't do much research...
  12. Good points there:

    1. Nothing is a direct replacement for fossil fuels - just too damn handy. But finite.

    2. I was wondering whether the gains for liquid nitrogen over liquid air would be great enough - the density difference is not that great, since oxygen and nitrogen are right next to each other in the periodic table. And yeah, I think people would be a lot less scared of liquid air, rationally or otherwise.

    3. A methanol injection system, unless it's trace, is less ideal than water-only or nothing, just in terms of putting stuff into the atmosphere.

    Will be interesting to see how it advances, but it has potential. As someone said earlier in this thread, there's no single 'magic bullet', there'll be a blend of approaches, but this may well be one.
  13. Nah hydrogens perfectly safe and reliable.

  14. Rationally, hydrogen, if it's stored in a metal hydride absorption tank not under pressure, is probably at least as safe as petrol, if not more so.

    Rationally, it was the flammable 'dope' used on the Hindenberg that accounted for most of the fire - the hydrogen did go at the end, but even being smart enough to use non-flammable paint, let along helium, would have stopped that disaster from happening. The pure hydrogen was not going to burn as long as it was in sealed sacs with no air.

    And so on. But the trouble is, it's necessary to market to the irrational.
  15. either way battery electric cars are not the future, automakers are only parading them out to win over public support and appear to be doing something. a car that can only go 250km before a 13 hour recharge, or any recharge longer than 10-15 mins is useless to society.

    this liquid nitrogen concept sounds great, hopefully he is able to continue to develop this idea as it sounds very promising, hydrogen is a good idea but the infrastructure to harvest the fuel is cost prohibitive even in the long run.
  16. [​IMG]
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Methanol is only an example of an anti-freeze compound. They could probably use other anti-freeze compounds such as ethylene glycol or glycerol is non-toxic. I don't know if these would be better or worse than methanol, and their boiling/melting points are a lot higher than methanol which may be significant.

    Also, what happens to the anti-freeze after the nitrogen evaporates? Is it discharged in the exhaust? If 100m cars started discharging methanol, that's gonna be pretty unacceptable. Burning it would be fine, but how easy is that given the car runs on liquid nitrogen? Would still need to fill up with some combustible fuel? Then you'd still need a catalytic converted for the nitrogen oxides generated. Or could a more permanent anti-freeze be used?

    So there are many questions to be asked, but it's a very new concept, and that's why this is being investigated by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London.

    Also, production of liquid nitrogen is simply done by liquification of air, easier than the fractional distillation of crude oil. Of course the process is energy intensive, so actual carbon footprint may not be much better.

    Liquid nitrogen is produced is currently not that great. However current costs for small deliveries could be anywhere between $1-$3 per litre. However bulk orders would cost a refill station less than $0.5 per litre (possibly significantly less). Although this cost is partially offset by the liquid oxygen (21% of atmosphere) and argon (1% of atmosphere) which are more expensive. Thus large scale implementation would negate these offsets as the demand for argon or oxygen will not increase.

    Just some thoughts.
  18. Liquid nitrogen is a by-product in some places (such as some hydro-metallurgy processes). I can't see why they can't use petrol as the anti-freeze and boiling catalyst and then just burn it in the cylinder (with liquid air as the prime energy source, obviously not with liquid nitrogen) as a secondary cycle.
  19. Not sure if your stating that ethylene glycol AND glycerol are non-toxic or ethylene glycol is toxic and glycerol isn't, your wording is confusing. Ethylene glycol is very toxic just to clear that up (by ingestion). Also i'm pretty sure it can only be used with a water based fluid, not nitrogen.
  20. id ride a nitro glycerin powered bike.....
    so yes, yes i would...

    would bring a whole new meaning to freezing your nads off...