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The Surprising Future of Steam Power | Robert Green | TEDxMissionViejo

269 ratings | 26368 views
Robert is devoted full time to developing inventions, writing and applying for patents on a wood-working system, a windmill, a rotary conversion device and a steam engine (six patents). Here he shares his idea about how the Electrical Grid and be replaced with a simple steam engine, that not only creates clean energy but saves dramatically on energy waste. At age 15, he hitchhiked to Chicago to begin a new life on his own. Mechanical skills learned on the farm provided the means to stay off the streets and utilize that knowledge. In 1964 he founded Turin Bicycle Company with smoke-damaged bicycles he obtained from a warehouse fire. The business flourished and Robert sold it the following year. The next few years were spent traveling and living in Europe. After returning to the US, he started a new business- Green Construction Company. With industrial machinery purchased from failed factories, Robert created custom cabinetry, furniture and architectural pieces as well as sculpture. He learned many new skills and became professional in carpentry, joinery/cabinetry, furniture design electrical, plumbing, machining, mechanics, metal casting, jewelry making, masonry, tile setting, welding, fine art (sculpting, painting, drafting, cartooning and drawing) as well as mechanical engineering, patent writing, and business management. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx
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Text Comments (89)
DUME85 (5 days ago)
"we have it today". "this can run on biofuels" This poor old man doesn't realize just how hard it is to get biofuels
J S (25 days ago)
Words are cheap. Does he have investment of 100 million or anything significant or is he hot air? Hot air.
oystla (1 month ago)
Small scale is always more expensive than large scale, so this Scheie would be more expensive than utility scale solar power.
2DOG3FIST (3 months ago)
So TED does infomercials now?
Local Ideas Inc NPO (3 months ago)
Even Tedx talks can't help but follow the money. I have designed a great reliable wind mill, a solar collector years ahead of the competition, an electric bike far ahead of it'e time in 2003, a 100 mpg car, a wood/steam/electricity/heat system, Direct Participatory Democracy and much more only to realize I am predestined to die broke and unknown because I am not part of the monetary system monopolizing weapons dealing war profiteering clan. Would be nice if I was wrong.
Martin D (4 months ago)
A still makes alcohol which burns predictably and can run a turbine. A turbine is friendly to heat exchange engine.
Robert Galletta (4 months ago)
Use the grid to power local Dynamos
tomterahedrob (4 months ago)
(4 months ago)
About the engine: Well, it uses a cam instead a crank. ok. Why none wide commercialized engine use this? There is not innovation on it. All the problenms he throw about current distribution is widelly know. Produces your own energy is very good, but many tecnologies allow renovable fuels. No innovations at all.
Clayton Turner (4 months ago)
Alot of good stuff but I cant watch father time stuttering for 18 minutes.
fragwits (4 months ago)
i wonder if using a wood gasifier as gas source for a boiler would be more efficient than just putting wood blocks under a boiler.. yeah, that engine he has on stage is old tech..
Maynard Johnson (5 months ago)
He's an old guy like I am headed towards. I'm not going to make fun of him. I've had a rough life. I had an idea for a proton exchange membrane for a PEM fuel cell. I decided not to patent it because of the way the law was written and the poor support afforded to individuals with little funds. But, dude can't you just show me a video of your product working? All that happens here is this guy tossing you softballs and then there is you going "yup, yup, yup this can do it".
TR- Labs (5 months ago)
Very poor design, many mechanical problems will happen when running.
Anchor Bait (5 months ago)
"do you need batteries?" "no, you just need a few hours of stored electrcal energy"..... Sooo like a frigging battery?? What a crank!
Anchor Bait (3 months ago)
Alex Tomev that's what a flipping battery is
Alex Tomev (3 months ago)
There are many ways of storing energy that doesn’t involve batteries. Can be as simple as pumping water up to a raised reservoir. When power is needed the water powers a hydro generation turbine on its way back down to the lower reservoir. Voila stored energy with no battery.
Anchor Bait (5 months ago)
He's actually not saying anything about how it works and it's physical properties. Gosh this is soo frustrating
Dart Gar (5 months ago)
If they let us have that we would all be successful and would not need their magnetic field poison anymore that is making us need Doctors , medication etc.. This will never be allowed to exist by those who governs and control. It's too bad.
Roland Lawrence (5 months ago)
urgh. show me a practicle independent system setup then I might be interested. the internet is awash with these things, swash plate, wobble engines. they have been around since the 1930s.
Vittorio Zamparella (6 months ago)
Four minutes into it and is really very childish. "Electricity is not suited for long-distance transmission" ?? why gosh, it's the biggest form of energy we transport, even more than oil, and much safer than that in the transportation
Michael Patterson (1 month ago)
If you research our current grid system, you find that Nikola Tesla had a better idea than did Edison. This my or may not be debatable ! Part of the debate seams to go back to the money or profits, and bankers willing to invest for a high and continuous return. I’ve heard it said, that if Edison were to come back from the dead, he would see very little change to the system he invented. A continuous, monthly electric bill, all in the name of convenience $$. Mr Green pointed out the reason the electric grid is a poor system, the expensive transformers! Much like todays cable/internet system work. In order to keep strong signals through miles of cable, they need to place a “booster” every so often in order to deliver the fast speeds promised. The point here is, having your own power source. He was nervous and did a poor job explaining his ideas. I see a steam engine as only one piece. I would have liked him talk more about the steam generator. Electricity is the largest transported source of energy as you stated, but only because no one wants to invest in a better way. Solar and wind are not it. In the eyes of Big government and business, god forbid consumers having their own power source.
Barskor1 (7 months ago)
Cold steam for electricity generation. water boils in a vacuum at room temperature have two vacuum chambers with your steam engine or turbine in between one side hot the other cold larger than the hot side with a condenser coil recirculate with one-way valves and use distilled water.
Bibin Bhaskar (8 months ago)
Is it available for sale online
Simon Penny (8 months ago)
No, Robert Green is not a crackpot. His claims about the wastage in power-station/grid systems are in, in general, true. Sadly, too cheap fossil fuels and high profits for the rich killed off local alternatives. His claims for small scale local steam power and the use of relatively low-energy waste heat are also generally true. What is unclear is whether HIS engine design is optimal. It is unusual. I've read concerns that the design will not wear well. We are in an environmental crisis created mostly by rampant burning of fossil fuels. Thankfully some visionaries recognise the problem and are trying to do something about it. True, a steam engine still has to burn something. But local power, and eliminating the large percentage that fizzes off the grid into the air as heat may reduce fuel usage. Also true, you have to get the fuel to the engine. But - and now you'll call me a crackpot - you can make methane form human manure - is a called biogas and has been a viable technology for 50 years or more (look it up). What if your septic tank was your local power station? You can also make steam directly with a solar concentrator. Green's design may not be the fix, but thank Robert for adding his intelligence and expertise to address the problem(s).
Teexamanbinnojol (7 months ago)
That is an excellent explanation.
Stoytcho Stoev (8 months ago)
Fine, not so simple as described but a viable direction. On the implementation note though, first you have to put this in a well insulated (no heat loss) closed loop system and second, substitute your patented engine with a Tesla Turbine. A 6 inch disk diameter (26 disks 1/16 inch think disk, 1/32 inter-disk space, 78/32 inch total disk thickness) Tesla Turbine (done in 2 stages, 2nd stage 3x the disks of the first) , has 2.5 times the power of what you are showing as a model, an (approximately) 5 times smaller space requirements. In addition it is easier to manufacture and Tesla patent is in the public domain, for more then 90 years now, so technically any well maintained and experienced machine shop should be able to build it with common days high quality steel materials.
r smit (8 months ago)
Eugene Kosinski (9 months ago)
Excellent video. Thank you. A Stirling engine would be a lot more efficient, quite, and much easier to maintain., in such a system. Steam engines especially small ones are highly inefficient, noisy, and have lubrication issues.
(4 months ago)
Stirling works with closed cycle. The best efficiency of them occurs only while they are cold.
Tony Wright (9 months ago)
but hot butter is more gooderer for steam powered food mixers
MsSomeonenew (10 months ago)
Seems like a cool guy but he is selling the same old piston generator in his own patent, meaning that you not only take on the cost of the entire system but also the long term maintenance which is significant, and most importantly you need to feed your boiler with fuel every day all day or it stops working.
Brian Dickinson (11 months ago)
largest thermal power station in UK burns biomass to drive steam turbine generators
Kjell Arvidsson (8 months ago)
they waste 60% of the heat
Geraldine Baco (11 months ago)
if too poverted people cant afford this, what now?
Benjamin Slayton (11 months ago)
A steam engine can run off any fuel because it's an external combustion engine and as long as you can make steam, you can make the engine run. I bet it would be relatively easy to make a boiler that can burn many different types of fuel.
steffankaizer (5 months ago)
don schmidtke
Barskor1 (7 months ago)
Cold steam from a closed-loop vacuum system is better.
Toby W (11 months ago)
Most of the energy is lost making steam. A truthful analysis would show an efficiency number trail from past to present, with projections into the future with numbers for each component of the system. Losses are additive.
Barskor1 (7 months ago)
So make steam in a vacuum have it escape to another vacuum chamber and have a turbine between returning the water with a one-way valve that takes advantage of any remaining pressure or thermal expansion of the heat source.
Lester Stanley (11 months ago)
what a BORING presenter...!!!
Lyle Stavast (2 months ago)
Not really boring, the man is just a little elderly and unable to stream at a speed and comprehensivess as I'm sure he would have in earlier years. It was good of the moderator fellow to help him along in expressing his knowledge. We will all one day be aged as well; it won't mean we're boring....
oicangidos (11 months ago)
So interesting...
Where can I see this engine?
Wisco Kidd (1 year ago)
I've built several different types of micro turbines and piston steam engines, the turbine is more turn-key and my latest combination turbine does a decent efficient job on a small amount of wood, I think I called my video, "off grid wood to electricity co-generation system.", so yeah, I have a whole system running like the gentleman in this video is talking about here in this video. Nice for me to see others working on such things, also nice to see an unknown like me, local ideas NPO, has more views than TED on a similar subject. Gooday eh
Parameswar Komaragari (2 months ago)
Wisco Kidd Your email id please ? If I want to replicate in India ? a small model ? Parameswer a t y ah oo do t k om
Joe Wilson (1 year ago)
What is the cost of this unit ? How long has he been making these steam engines and how big can you get one ?
doktorbimmer (1 year ago)
Autistic Boy (4 months ago)
@doktorbimmer yes u are the crackpot of all the doctors u turkey
Ron Smith (9 months ago)
What's the name of the electric company work for??
He's not completly correct when he says right in the very beginning that electric transmission wastest energy by resistance. A large part is also wasted by electric flied generated. But the truth is, about 1/3 of the energy produced is wasted by transmission. And that is the really bad news for a very long time now. Decentralized energy production, closer to the consumer in each place would do much better.
Stelios Posantzis (23 days ago)
Mark Harmon > Unfortunately, you'll have to look it up and do the math, and even then, you'll only know the theory behind it. You'll never actually know, that generator X has an efficiency Y but then as it's operated it's slightly less or that most of the time the energy it produces is just dumped because of poor planning or the freak weather. But you can know that in theory, power grid transformers have efficiencies approaching 97% or sth. that steam turbines can reach 42% etc. and so on.. (by the way these are arbitrary numbers). You do the math and you come up with some figure and you pray it comes close enough to reality. And you trust that the people in charge of these affairs do actually know what they're doing, most of the time (i.e. they use the same theory you've just dug up but actually know it and know how to apply it a lot better).
Mark Harmon (4 months ago)
Dogphlap How can I confirm your point of view?
Dogphlap (5 months ago)
Transmission losses, yes all of them start to finish average less than 7%. These numbers are easy enough to find yet people pushing their own particular barrows always exaggerate the losses. While I'm in favour of more local production of electricity starting your case with a blatant untruth removes all credibility to whatever comes later in the talk.
Tony Wright (1 year ago)
All a steam engine does is convert heat in to motion where do you think heat comes from ?
steffankaizer (3 months ago)
i didnt find it. what is it?
Martin D (4 months ago)
Tony Wright A magnifying glass.
Barskor1 thats not how that works at all
steffankaizer (5 months ago)
don schmidtke
Barskor1 (7 months ago)
Water boils at room temperature in a vacuum you just need another low-pressure area vacuum chamber for it to go to and a turbine in between with a condenser and a one-way valve and piping to return the water to the hot side. So you can run a steam turbine with very low energy inputs.
Mech-E (1 year ago)
Alright Thomas Edison
Daniel Wahl (1 year ago)
Ron Smith (9 months ago)
What's the name of the electric company work for??
1stPCFerret (1 year ago)
I prefer the term "Psychoceramic."
Carmel Pule' (1 year ago)
Any heat engine must work between two temperatures which are wide apart for maximum efficiency. If the exhaust side of the engine needs to cool down and this is done only through the heat exchanger, then the hot water side in the boiler must not reach a high value otherwise the engine exhasut would have to be vented to the air. It is possible theoretically , but in practice there will be difficulties.
joshua43214 (1 year ago)
You need to also Google up Steam Condenser. A system like this would condense the steam, and pump the water back into the boiler. Still does not change the fact that wobble plate designs are bad, and there are a host of other problems.
Shop Dog (1 year ago)
your thinking of stirring engines not steam engines
johnDon (1 year ago)
Thermal efficiency?
(4 months ago)
twistedyogert how much a tecnology is used is differente of how much it's efficient.
Beniamin R95 (8 months ago)
Skinner Unaflow steam engines are a good example. As compound engines they approached thermal efficiency of diesel engines.
Valeriy Reiter (9 months ago)
Because it is a much cleaner way to burn fuel. And diesel can't run on coal, which is used for powerplants
twistedyogert (11 months ago)
I meant for transportation, you hardly see steam trains or cars in use today. But it is true that most of the world's power is generated by some sort of steam turbine.
Kevin Keel (11 months ago)
twistedyogert then why is >90% of the world's power made from steam?
MeMad Max (1 year ago)
sigh... If all you do is dedicate tons and tons of time to fearmongering rather than the product at hand... ... you discredit yourself(and your product is forgotten too), in a big way....
Alex Tomev (3 months ago)
Fear mongering about what? He was just talking about making a more complete use of the energy from combustion. Instead of wasting heat energy in cooling towers following electrical generation to use it to heat a structure and have hot water. This is already done at business, institutions and work camps that generate their electricity in house, they don’t waste the heat from burning their fuel they heat buildings and make hot water from the excess heat.
Andy Patterson (1 year ago)
There is nothing new about these wobble plate engines. His engine seams to a low pressure low expansion design making his clams unreal. A steam turbine is able to produce power over a wide range at fairly constant efficiency. The design is to simplistic to address all the problems. Water has desolved solids that cause many problem in steam systems. Scale build up etc. Steam produces high torque the engine shown here would not be able handle driving a generator that could power most homes today. The concept is doable. But I doubt that engine is the soloition.
Barskor1 (7 months ago)
Water boils in a vacuum at room temperature think about it.
Valeriy Reiter (9 months ago)
For example, if you put load on a turbine-powered generator, it just slows down and your light in a house would dim. When the same would be with piston-powered one, it will adjust the valves or throttle to keep up the same RPM and give you as much power as required
Valeriy Reiter (9 months ago)
Yep, but steam turbine in small scale is not more efficient. There are lots of more advanced, yet simple piston steam engine designs. One of the great advantages about piston one is that it works fine over a wide range of loads and can adjust itself to keep up with load
twistedyogert (11 months ago)
Couldn't he use superheated steam? It was used in locomotives to increase power and efficiency. Its like supercharging an internal combustion engine.
Tony Wright (11 months ago)
i allso agree but its not as efficient as a wibblewobbl jelly is it?no i dont think it is.Or as wobbley as a wobbley hat
joseph sowder (1 year ago)
I have yet to use one of his steam engines, but I believe he is correct in being able to replace, or significantly supplant, hydrocarbon-based energy production with steam. I have a patent for a concentrated solar thermal device that I plan to employ, hopefully using one of his engines to drive a generator to produce current.
Alex Tomev (3 months ago)
It would still burn hydrocarbons and bio mass at the end of the day just on an individual level vs municipal. People would buying up used motor/gear oils for fuel instead of sending them the recyclers, used cooking oils, and all sorts of other waste. Not sure how good that would be for “clean” air and global warming (if it exists). Only real benefit is making a more complete use of the burnt fuel. It would use residual heat in the home instead of wasting that energy in cooling towers.
zack kreps (10 months ago)
joseph sowder I'd like to learn more about your project. Do you have a website, or any videos?

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