Home » AtomicToasters » Currently Reading:

AtomicToasters Explores Alternative Transportation

AtomicToasters November 29, 2010 AtomicToasters 24 Comments

The Tupolev Tu-119 Nuclear-powered aircraft

In case you haven’t been following us, we’ve been having fun over the last few weeks over on AtomicToasters exploring alternative modes of transportation. But when we talk about alternative transportation, we’re not usually talking about a bicycle. Which is not, of course, to say that we don’t adore the traditional four-wheeled variety, but you have to give credit where credit is due for some of the weird and wonderful ideas that engineers have come up with over the years… as well as some of the not-so-wonderful ideas.

We’ve explored nuclear-powered aircrafttwo of them, in fact — and nuclear-powered ramjet missiles. We also looked at a sequence of seaplanes, which sparked our Giant F*ck-Off Aircraft Week. Have you come over to join us? If not, why not?

  • How about a diesel aircraft? I actually posed a question about diesel planes at Bang Shift last year and can't remember the specific model Brian Lohnes mentioned but theyre out there. There is a wiki article on Aircraft Diesel engines.

  • Alff

    Imagine the consequences if Japan had nuclear powered fighters in WWII.

  • dwegmull

    Are you guys familiar with flame eater engines? I know a couple of people who have small, table top ones. One of them happens to be sitting at my house right now, awaiting an experimental chassis to see if it can be turned into a small locomotive.
    Once we get it going, I'll snap some pictures and maybe a bit of video and submit an article…

  • BrianTheHoon

    I read about what appears (to me) to be a variation of the Deltic engine's 2-stroke, opposed cylinder layout in Popular Mechanics a month or two back. From pm.com:

    <img src="http://www.popularmechanics.com/cm/popularmechanics/images/wU/alt_engines_02_0810-lg.jpg"&gt;

    "The opposed-piston opposed-cylinder (OPOC) architecture has drawn considerable attention recently with the emergence of a new company called Ecomotors. Ecomotors includes numerous veteran auto-industry executives and engineers, including Don Runkle of General Motors and Peter Hofbauer, formerly of Volkswagen.

    The primary claimed advantage of the OPOC architecture is high power density and fuel efficiency improvements of 50 percent over current spark-ignition engines. Ecomotors has developed a modular configuration with each module consisting of two cylinders. Within each cylinder are two pistons that are linked to a common crankshaft. The pairs of pistons oscillate back and forth with a common combustion chamber between them. The OPOC engine operates on a two-stroke cycle, with each piston exposing only the intake or exhaust ports, allowing better management of which ports are open by timing each piston.

    Hofbauer explains that the use of two pistons per cylinder allows the pistons to move only half the distance for the same compression ratio so that the engine can run twice as fast. Like many of these alternative architectures, the OPOC engine can run on a variety of fuels including both gasoline and diesel as well as biofuels. Modules of two cylinders each can be joined together providing as much power as needed for a given application while electronically controlled clutches allow the individual modules to be shut down for reduced fuel consumption during light loads."

  • It sounds like we might have the makings of an "Opposed Cylinder Week" on AT.

    • Alff

      The headline of that first morning's post should be "Pancakes for Breakfast".

    • In this case it's really more opposed piston than it is cylinder.

    • Deartháir

      I'll see what I can come up with for tomorrow. I like it; I'll send an email to the crew. 🙂

  • Joe Dunlap

    Never one to miss a chance to jump on a bandwagon, I hearby nominate the Fairbanks-Morse opposed piston diesel used in WWII submarines and later in some early postwar railroad locomotives. Changing out pistons was a bitch though. 🙂

  • Mad_Hungarian

    The atomic planes don't look to have been very useful, except perhaps in a suicide mission. And the thought of designing a nuke powered plane safe enough for civilian applications is unimaginable. However, why not nuke powered cargo ships? We did build one with great fanfare, the N.S. Savannah, in 1958. It worked. Seems to me if we must manufacture everything in China and ship it around the world, the least we can do is not burn fossil fuels in the process of getting all that junk from China to here.