DailyDirt: Tiny Engines That Could
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Combustion engines aren’t getting much love from the media now that batteries and electric cars seem to be getting better. However, combustion engines still have a performance edge in many situations, and engines could even do better at smaller scales, too. Here are just a few microscopic engines that could power interesting devices someday.
- A microscopic combustion engine produces usable work in a strange way, but in any case, it’s nice to have a new kind of actuator that’s relatively powerful and fast at small scales. An applied current breaks up water into hydrogen and oxygen nanobubbles (creating an expanding volume that can push a mini-membrane piston), and combustion of these gases dissipates the volume so that an alternating current makes this little engine run. [url]
- The world’s smallest steam engine is a microscopic Stirling engine that uses lasers. This little engine isn’t very practical, but it might inspire other tiny engine designs that could power micromachines in the future. [url]
- Macroscopic combustion engines are about 25% energy efficient, but a nano-heat engine could be much more efficient (if it’s possible to make one). A nano-heat engine can theoretically exceed the classic Carnot limit, but making a functional prototype could be tricky. [url]
If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.