It seems as if by accident those first motor vehicles were petrol driven rather than by steam. Perhaps it was assumed inefficient and slow start up steam engines could not be improved by clever design and hence the internal combustion petrol engine was seen as superior. An enormous infrastructure quickly built up around that investment, to the exclusion of alternatives.
Estates and cities could now be created away from the waterways, as motor vehicles gave us unpanelled new freedom spurred on by abundant cheap oil. A populace oblivious to the polluting force about to be unleased upon it.
The oil spike in the mid seventies gave the westernised world an oil shock and a small stimulus to consider alternatives. About that time Ted Pritchard produced a steam powered engine for an Australian Falcon which covered thousands of kilometres both in Australia and the USA.
However once oil stabilised and the initial concern diminished, interest in his engine subsided.
But as the price of oil rises and its polluting nature becomes unsustainable a renewed interest led Pritchard Power to set up in 2003 a company to develop and license their unique steam drive power systems.
I am very interested in sustainability and hence when I first read about Pritchard Power Systems, it was exciting to realise such systems with low emissions are also quiet, light weight and have miserly fuel consumption.
Their power systems have many different stationary and mobile applications. The have particular relevance and advantage to developing countries and agricultural communities.
Key advantages of the Pritchard technology from their Information Memorandum of January 2006 are:
- Very high fuel efficiency and high thermal efficiency:
- Existing multi –fuel capability _eg (sawdust, rice husks, nut shells and other agricultural wastes etc) and relative simple development step to liquid fields (ethanol: kerosene: reclyed oil) and potentially solar.
- Multi services –electricity generation: sterilising or process steam; Hot water "distilled water”: direct shaft power take off:
- Very low emissions on any fuel type and very quiet running:
- Simple and safe, with low maintenance, no pressure vessels (and in automotive application no gears or clutch)
If you would like to learn more about the Pritchard Power systems visit their website at http://www.pritchardpower.com