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Publication numberUS3839863 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 8, 1974
Filing dateJan 23, 1973
Priority dateJan 23, 1973
Publication numberUS 3839863 A, US 3839863A, US-A-3839863, US3839863 A, US3839863A
InventorsFrazier L
Original AssigneeFrazier L
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Fluid pressure power plant
US 3839863 A
Abstract
An external combustion hydraulic power plant employing an expanding gaseous medium and a non-expanding fluid medium in order to create a body of fluid under pressure which may be used to perform work. In one embodiment, steam is the expanding gaseous medium and in another embodiment, hot gas is the medium. In both embodiments, efficiency is enhanced because maximum heat conservation is effected and the power plant operates only on occasions of demand.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

nit States Patent [1 1 I raaier IFILIUIID PRESSURE POWER PLANT [76] Inventor: Larry Vane W. Frazier, 1460 Exeter Ave., Ventura, Calif. 93003 221 Filed: Jan.23,1973

[21] Appl.No.:325,271

3,630,019 12/1971 Krcss 60/24 X 3 ,670,495 6/1972 Leffert 3,732,692 5/1973 Norell 60/108 I Primary Examinerlrwin C. Cohen Assistant Examiner-Allen M. Ostrager Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Richard S. Sciascia; J. M. St. Amand, David OReilly [57] ABSTRACT An external combustion hydrauIic power plant employing an expanding gaseous medium and a nonexpanding fluid medium in order to create a body of fluid under pressure which may be used to perform workfln one embodiment, steam is the expanding gaseous medium and in another embodiment, hot gas is the medium. In both embodiments, efficiency is enhanced because maximum heat conservation is effected and the power plant operatesonly on occasions of demand. v I

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COOLING WATER OUT COOLING WATER TO OR FROM FROM PUMP 4O EXPANDABLE GAS SOURCE I l rum PRESSURE rowan PLANT STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT INTEREST The invention described herein may be manufactured and used by or for the Government of the United States of America for governmental purposes without the payment of any royalties thereon or therefor.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates generally to power plants and more particularly to a power plant which converts heat energy to hydraulic power.

Presently, in the operation of almost all power systems, energy in the form of heat is thrown away in huge quantities. Heat is. thrown away in the form of unused power developed because of the necessity to maintain engine speed and angular momentum of mechanical SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The purpose of the present invention is to provide a high efficiency, demand cycle power plant which elimi nates some of the disadvantages of conventional systems. The system uses either steam or hot gas for the energy input. In the steam system, a steam generator supplies energy to a power converting piston which transforms the input energy into output energy in the form of high hydraulic pressure. The output power hydraulic pressure is stored in a high pressure accumulator which in turn drives energy utilization devices such as one or more hydraulic motors or turbines through hydraulic output control valves. Since the system uses external combustion in the form of a steam generator to produce the energy input, it has the advantage over conventional systems of being low in noise and air pollution. Another advantage is that the system is highly efficient because it operates on a demand cycle. That is, the system is arranged so that no energy input from the steam generator is necessary until there is some de mand for power output from the hydraulic accumulatOI.

The hydraulic fluid used to produce the power output is continuously circulated around a closed cycle. The hydraulic fluid is pumped from a main reservoir to a low pressure. hydraulic accumulator and then to the power converting pistons. The power converting pistons then force the hydraulic fluid under high pressure into the high pressure hydraulic accumulator. The high pressure hydraulic fluid is then used to drive one or more hydraulic motors or turbines. The hydraulic fluid is then recirculated back to the main reservoir. The main reservoir also provides the fluid for the steam generator.

The system is highly efficient because of the use of a demand cycle, but a further increase in efficiency can be made. by using thermal jacketing to reduce heat losses. Another important feature of the invention is that it is simple in construction and highly adaptable to be changed to meet future power requirements. The

components of the system need not be centrally located as is the case in the conventional'engine. Also. the system requires no gear train, driven axle or crankshaft.- except at the power output. This further increases the system reliability.

OBJECTS or THE INVENTION It is an object of the present invention to provide a power plant which employs an expanding gaseous medium to create a body of fluid under pressure which may be used to perform work.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a power plant which employs steam as the expanding gaseous medium.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a power plant which employs a hot gas as the expanding gaseous medium.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a power plant which enhances efficiency by oper ating only on occasions of demand.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a power plant which is low in noise and air pollution.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a power plant which is readily adaptable to increased power requirements.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a power plant with improved maintenance characteristics by eliminating the need for gears, axles or shafts.

Other objects, advantages and novel features of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which like reference numbers indicate identical components throughout the figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 isa fluid flow schematic diagram of an embodiment of the present invention where the expanding gaseous medium is steam.

FIG. 2 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of a power conversion piston illustrating the operation of the intake and exhaust valves. I

FIG. 3 illustrates an alternate arrangement of the intake and exhaust valves of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a fluid flow schematic diagram of an embodiment where the expanding gaseous medium is heated gas.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of a power conversion cylinder group used in conjunction with the hotgas system of FIG. 4. I

FIG. 6 is a cross-section through one of the power conversion cylinders of FIG. 5.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Since both the steam and hot gas systems comprise a closed cycle process, which only serves as a medium for transportation, distribution, and transformation of the energy between the power input and output, one

' is generated in boiler and fed through check valve 12 to steam accumulator 14. In order to improve the efficiency of the system, the exhaust from the steam generator 10 may be fed through a heat exchanger 16 to preheat the fluid coming into the steam generator, and may then be exhausted to the atmosphere at 18. Pressure in steam accumulator 14 is sensed and a control signal is fed back through feedback control 20 to the steam generator 10 to turn off the latter when the pressure reaches a certain limit.

The power conversion system includes intake and exhaust valves 22 and 22 power conversion piston units 24 and 24 and a number of check valves 28, 28, 30 and 30' for controlling input and output of hydraulic fluid. In addition, the hydraulic fluid may be fed through an orifice restriction 26 and 26 to cushion the operation of the intake and exhaust valves. Orifice restriction 26 is an adjustable valve such as a needle valve, throttling valve, etc. It should be adjustable such that the reaction of the intake and exhaust valves 22 and 22' to the pressure changes in line 60 (FIG. 2) may be varied in order to optimize performance. Check valves 28 and 28 control the input of fluid to the power output side of power conversion piston units 24 and 24'. Check valves 30 and 30' control the output of the high pressure hydraulic fluid to high pressure hydraulic accumulator 32. The high pressure accumulator 32 may be of the air chamber type illustrated in which a bladder is preloaded with air to a particular pressure.

However, other types of pressure accumulators would also be suitable.

The high pressure hydraulic accumulator subsystem C stores thehydraulic fluid under high pressure for use on demand by the-power output subsystem I). The air head provided by a suitable source such as the preload air compressor 34 is the compressible medium which allows the hydraulic fluid to build up and to diminish on a demand basis. This high pressure hydraulic accumulator action also functions to smooth out the pulsations of the individual piston movements.

The hydraulic output control valves 36 and 36 control the flow of power to hydraulic power output units 37 and 37'. These units may be in the form of hydraulic .rnotors, turbines or whatever is dictated by the use for through another check valve 43. Centrifugal separator 47 may or may not be used as will be more fully explained hereinafter. Low pressure hydraulic accumulator 44 also provides the recycle pressure for power conversion piston units 24 and 24' as will be more fully explained in conjunction with FIGS. 2 and 3 hereinafter. Input check valve 42 prevents low pressure hydraulic accumulator 44 from supplying back pressure to the low pressure hydraulic recycle pump 40.

The system is purely a demand system. When the power output units 37 and 37 are drawing no power,

the pressure in the high pressure hydraulic accumulator 32 builds to the maximum obtainable by the power conversion piston units 24 and 24, which may be anywhere from 1800 psia to 3000 psia. Whenever this ocsource, reaches the maximum deliverable pressure (approximately 150 psia) of low pressure hydraulic recycle pump 40, which then ceases to pump. A pressure regulator (not shown) may be required in line 45 to 45' because of the pressure difference between accumulators 32 and 44. As the demand by the power conversion units 37 and 37 increases, the power conversion piston units 24 and 24 start to work, but only to meet the demand since no zero-power cyclic phenomena are present. There is absolutely no power developed by the system except when there is power consumed by the power conversion units. The system is flexible and can be adapted to meet any power demands by employing parallel components in any or all of the subsystems A through E, as required.

A detailed section view of power conversion piston 24 of the steam system shown in FIG. I is illustrated in FIG. 2. The intake and exhaust valves 48 and 50 are shown in the intake-position with piston 52 near the bottom of its stroke. When piston 52 reaches the bottom of its stroke just short of low pressure fluid input line 54, the intake and exhaust spool valves 48 and 50 will reverse position and the exhaust port 56 will be open and the intake port 58 closed. As low pressure fluid comes in the low pressure fluid input line 54, the piston 52 will start to rise, forcing the exhaust materials out the exhaust port 56. When the piston 52 reaches the position shown in dotted lines 52, the low pressure fluid will begin to flow through line 60 to the spool valves. The low pressure fluid will force the spool valve 50 closed, stopping flow through exhaust line 56 and the intake valve 48 will then open, allowing ingress of steam through line 58. At this time, steam begins to come into upper piston chamber 62, starting downward movement of piston 52. When lower piston ring(s) 64 get beyond the line 60 from the low pressure fluid chamber 66 to the spool valves 48 and 50, the low pressure fluid, which forced the spool valves 48 and 50 into the intake position, begins to drain off into the chamber 68 and out exhaust port 70 at the bottom of the chamber 68. It should be noted that as piston 52 starts its downward stroke, line 60 will momentarily be under high pressure. The position of line 60 can be varied to control at what point in the cycle of the piston 52 the valves 48 and 50 open and close. Again when the piston 52 reaches the bottom of its downward stroke, the spool valves 48 and 50 will reverse, opening the exhaust port 56 and closing the intake port 58. With each downward stroke, the hydraulic fluid forced into the chamber 66 at low pressure will be forced at high pressure through the check valve 30 in the line 29 from the bottom of the power output side of the piston chamber 66. A suitable pressure gradient across the piston 52 was determined to be about twelve to one, however, other values may be used, if desired. That is, the ratio of the area of the top 51 of the piston to the bottom 53 of the piston is about twelve to one.

The steam coming from exhaust port 56, along with the low pressure hydraulic fluid flowing in line 70are both fed to the condenser 46. Some of the heat from the steam is reclaimed in this condensing process and also used to preheat the hydraulic fluid being fed to the boiler 10. The use of reclaimed heat in heat exchanger 16 and condenser 46 to preheat the hydraulic fluid'con- I serves energy and is an additional method of improving the overall efficiency of the system.

FIG. 3 is another detailed section of the power conversion piston 24 with a different arrangement for the intake and exhaust valves 48 and 50. In this embodiment, the spool valves of FIG. 2 are replaced with poppet valves. They operate in substantially the same manner as the spool valves48 and 50 of FIG. 2, except that they are more like the conventional poppet valves with the up and down motion. Again, as the low pressure fluid forces the piston 52 upward, fluid flows through the line 60 tothe valves, forcing the intake valve 48 open and the exhaust valve 50 closed. When the piston 52 reaches the bottom of its stroke, the pressure is relieved from the poppet valvesand the intake'valve 48 closes while the exhaust valve 50 opens. The valve arrangements shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 are merely illustrative and other valve arrangements may be entirely suitable.

The steam system shown in FIG. I has two power conversion pistons 24 and 24', merely to illustrate that more than one power conversion piston may be used. However, only one power conversion piston may be used or any number may be used, as desired. Additional power conversion pistons may be added as needed and the only limit on the number of power conversion pistons is the size of the main reservoir and the amount of energy output of the holder. Additional pistons would be added in parallel with the existing pistons as piston 24'. It is important to note that each power conversion piston operates completely independent of any others. In otherwords, a power conversion piston may be added or removed from the system without affecting the performance of the other pistons. Likewise, the power output may be used by one or more hydraulic motors or turbines and as many as needed may b added within the limits of the system.

One distinct advantage over conventional systems is that the entire system may be in modular form. That is, each part may be located in a different area from another part and operates independently. For example, the main reservoir may be mounted on one part of the vehicle with the pump at another position and the accumulators at even different positions. Also, the power conversion pistons may be located in the frame, on the body, or, if desired, can be centrally located. The advantage of this is that if one portion of the system is damaged, it may be easily replaced. Or for example, if a power conversion piston is damaged, it may be removed or merely valved off and the system will still op- I throughout the body and frame of the vehicle, it would be difficult to disable the system completely. Further, by valving on or off additional power conversion pistons, the power may be used as needed rather than using full power all the time.

One of the difficulties-with some of the present systems is the problem of providing; lubrication throughout the system. This is a problem because many of the materials for lubrication cannot go through the energy input cycle. However, there are many materials now which can be included in with the fluid used to supply the steam generator system and which can be separated out before the water or other fluid passes to the steam generator system. For this purpose, centrifugal separator 47 isi'nserted in the system after the low pressure hydraulic accumulator 44. There are a number of types of centrifugal separators which would be suitable for this system.

Fluids suitable for the vapor cycle have quite poor, generally, lubrication qualities and, therefore, a lubricant which has all the proper qualities for use in a hydraulic medium will most likely be required as an additive of some type. Thus, a fluid chosen which has a density significantly different from the hydraulic fluid can easily be separated in the centrifugal separator 47 and fed back through a line 49 to the low pressure hydraulic accmumulator 44. Then, only the hydraulic fluid capable of being used in the vapor cycle will pass to the boiler 10. The vapor to hydraulic fluid volumetric flow ratio is approximately 12 to l in this case (although it couldbe any ratio desirable). Also, the vapor mass flow rate is low compared to the hydraulic fluid mass flow rate. This fact is due to the several hundred to one volumetric expansion from liquid to vapor in the boiler. With these comparatively low flow rates, separation of the lubricant from the hydraulic fluid in the centrifugal separator does not present any problem. With the continuing discovery of new materials, a simpler solution thalpy versus Entropy) for some: of the organic substances such as Dowtherm A, Dowtherm E, and Toluene show promise for increasing thermal efficiency. Selection of a suitable hydraulic fluid for the vapor cycle depends upon such factors as the properties desired and the cost.

Preferably the power conversion pistons 24 and 24 would operate on a full or partial expansion principle. This is because although the non-expansion pressure multiplication or intensifier piston described is the simplest, mechanically, it is less efficient than full or partial expansion pistons. The boiler steam delivered to the piston contains energy in the form of pressure and temperature. The non'expansion piston cannot take advantage of the internal energy represented by the temperature. An expansion piston converts both pressure and internal energy into work. For example, using a proposed boiler pressure of psia, a partial-expansion piston cycle, expanding to 40 psia, provides a cycle effi ciency of more than twice that of the non-expansion piston cycle. Efficiency enhancementby application of such techniques is describedin detail in Principles of EngineeringThermodynamics by Kiefer and Stuart, published in 1949. by John Wiley and Sons, and in Steam Power Plant Engineering by Gebhardt, 6th Edition 1928, published by John Wiley and Sons.

The system shown in FIG. 4 is an alternative embodiment which operates on hot gas (such as air, nitrogen or helium) as the energy input rather than the vapor cycle and requires power conversion pistons in groups of four. As in the steam system, an arbitrary point was selected as the starting point, and in this case it was the energy input which is the heat source. Beginning with the heat source, the theory of operation shall be explained in the sequence in which the operational functions occur. Again, for clarification, the system is broken down into five subsystems. These are the heat generation subsystem A,.the power conversion subsystem B, the energy storage and distribution subsystem C, the

hydraulic output power utilization subsystem D, and the fluid supply and low pressure hydraulic subsystem E 82. When this heat is applied to the cylinder heads, it

causes the gas in the cylinder to expand, thus driving the respective pistons downward. The pistons are pressure multiplication pistons as in the steam system, the top end being several times as large in area as the lower end (e.g. a ratio of 4 to 1 might be suitable). Many such pistons can be employed in parallel to meet whatever power requirements are desired by the user, however, pistons function together in groups of four and multiples of four are required. Other than the grouping of four, no fixed number of pistons is required beyond the initial four. Obviously, the sizing of the entire system must be considered for the ultimate application of large numbers of pistons, etc. The requirement that the pistons be employed in groups of four derives from the fact that the pistons are phased 90 apart and are hydraulically interlocked to maintain this phase separation. Th use of porting without valves, heat regenerators, and the hot-to-cold gas cycling requires the 90 phase relationship between pistons. A half stroke is 90.

is then cooled and pumped to a low pressure hydraulic accumulator 44 from where it is fed to the power conversion cylinders and is recycled through the system.

Referring now to FIG. 5, there is shown a sectional view illustrating the function of the group of four power conversion cylinders 74, 76, 78 and 80. Heat is generated either directly in the top of the cylinders by a burner (not shown) or is fed tothe .cylindersthrough heat pipes 82 as shown. r J

. Direct heating by a burner is described in an article 54-56. In FIG. 4, the arrow associated with'the heat pipe 82 shows direction of heat flow. The vapor flow and return capillary flow of fluid internal to the pipe is bi-directional. There are many treatises on the subject of heat pipes in The Proceedings of the 4th Intersociety Energy Conversion Engineering Conference, Washington, DC, September 22-26, 1969, such as Paper No. 2729], page XIV.

The heat is conducted to the chamber 98 at the top of the cylinder by a thin metal membrane formed into fins 84, acting as a heat exchanger and causes the gas in the cylinder to expand, forcing the piston 86 downward. As the piston 86 moves downward, it drives fluid under high pressure through a check valve 88 into high pressure accumulator 32.As the piston reaches the bottom of its stroke, the high pressure in the lower chamber 90 of the cylinder falls and the high pressure hydraulic check valve 88 shuts off. The low pressure hydraulic check valve 92 then opens under pressure from the low pressure accumulator 44 and low pressure hydraulic fluid forces the piston upwards.

As the piston 86 went through the cycle just described, its movement caused several things to happen. As the piston 86 of cylinder 80 starts its downward stroke, the gas in the water-cooled lower end 94 of the large cylinder is forced through a line to a regenerator 96 into the hot end 98 of the last cylinder 74. Cooling water is supplied to the cylinder from pump 40, as shown, to cool the gas in lower chamber 94 and then returned to reservoir 38 (FIG. 4). The gas is super heated in chamber 98 of cylinder 74 and the piston 86 moves downward on its power stroke, forcing hydraulic fluid at the bottom end through the high pressure hydraulic fluid check valve 88 and at the same time forcing cool gas in. the lower end 94 of cylinder 74 through the next regenerator 96 and into the hot end of cylinder 76. Each successive piston and regenerator works in the same way. The regenerators 96 preheat cool gas coming from the watercooled end 94 of the cylinders and cools the gas as it comes from the hot end 98 of the cylinders when the piston is in its upward stroke. Only one heat regenerator per piston is shown, however, more may be needed, depending upon the heat capacity'required. The interaction between the pistons 86, gas and heat regenerators 96 is a type of Stirling cycle and is very straightforward.

FIG. 6 shows one of the cylinders of FIG. 5 in greater detail. A thin metal membrane formed into fins 84 act as a heat exchanger to supply heat from heat pipe 82 to chamber 98. In FIG. 6, a bi-directional flow of gas is shown through line into chamber 94 from a source of expandable gas. Details are not shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 to avoid further complicating the drawings. Addi tional gas is introduced during acceleration and bled off during deceleration. This procedure is standard in Stirling cycle engines and the method of application is somewhat'arbitrary. No fixed method is prescribed herein, rather the anticipated use of the technique is cited for reference.

The hydraulic interaction at the lower end 90 of the pistons is a little more complicated. As piston 86 of cylinder 80 begins to move downward, the lower piston in the June .1971 issue of Popular Science, pages ring 100 passes a port 102 leading to a cushioning valve 104 and a spool. valve 106. The hydraulic pressure in 1 the line to c'ushioningvalve 104 then drops to zero or near zero. The cushioning valve 104 prevents the spool valve from operating instantaneously and its reaction time should be adjustable. When the spool valve 106 opens, low pressure hydraulic fluid flows through check valve 92 to the cylinder 76, which is at the bottom of its stroke. The piston 86 of cylinder 76 therefore may not operate until the first piston 86 of cylinder 80 operates. The position of the fluid port controlling the spool valve 106 in cylinder 80 assures 180 separation between these two pistons.

As the piston 86 of cylinder 80 continues to move downward, the piston ring 100 (or rings) pass the fluid port 108 leading to another cushioning valve 110 and spool valve 112. This port is located at the midpoint of the piston stroke or 90 mechanical degrees of the piston cycle. As the ring 100 passes theport 108, the pressure in the line to the cushioning valve 110 drops and the adjacent spool valve 112 operates, allowing low pressure hydraulic fluid to flow through a check valve 92 to the adjacent cylinder 78, which will be at the bottom or 180 of its stroke. Of course, the first piston cylinder 80 and the adjacent piston cylinder 78 are 90 apart in phase so that when the first piston cylinder 80 has reached the midpoint of its downard movement, the adjacent piston cylinder 78 is at the bottom when the spool valve 112 opens to allow the low pressure hydraulic fluid to flow into the chamber 90.

At the same time that the first piston cylinder 80 is at its mid-point on the way down, the third piston cylinder 76 is at its mid-point on the way up. As the lower ring 100 on the third piston 86 of cylinder 76 passes the fluid port 114 leading to a cushioning valve 116 and a spool valve 118, the presure on the spool valve 118 is restored and it shuts off the fluid flow to the last piston 86 of cylinder 74 through a check valve 92. The midpoint location of the fluid port 114 leading to the cushioning valve 116 assures 90 phase separation between the third and fourth piston cylinders 76 and 74.

When the output power demand goes to zero, the pressure in the high pressure accumulator 32 fills to the maximum deliverable by the pistons and a flow rate indicator will tell the heat generating source '72 through a feedback line indicated at 31 to retard its output. Besides storing high pressure fluid for use on demand by hydraulic motors or turbines, the accumulator 32 acts to smooth the pulsations of the individual piston strokes. Hydraulic output control valves 36 and t 36, which may be throttle valves, if desired, control the power flow to the hydraulic power units which may be hydraulic motors or turbines, or whateverdevice is dictated by the use for which the system is employed.

Fluid for the entire cycle is stored in a main reservoir 38 which should be maintained at a pressure which will not allow the low pressure hydraulic recycle pump 11) to flash and yet low enough that for maximum efficiency the pressure gradient across the hydraulic power units 37 and 37' is maximum. Cooling of the fluid in the main reservoir 38 will probably be required. A fan 39, radiator, or other cooling device may be employed.

A low pressure recycle pump 40 supplies the hydraulic pressure to operate all the valves and recycle the pistons, as described at length above, through a hydraulic check valve 42 and a low pressure hydraulic accumulator M. The hydraulic check valve 42 acts to isolate the pressure of the low pressure hydraulic accumulator 44 I 1d sure and acts to smooth pumping action of the low pressure recycle pump 40. v

Most of the components for both the steam and the hot air systems are readily available and it is merely a matter of selecting the proper units for the particular use required. They must, however, be properly connected and employed to operate in conjunction with the proper conversion pistons, as described. An inherent advantage of the system is the capability of efficiency enhancement through a unique arrangement of system components. What is proposed here is that the power output units 37 and 37 be hydraulic motors of the variable displacement motor/pump design. The

variability in displacement may be achieved by varying i the pitch of a camplate (not shown). By varying the pitch until the plate passes through the perpendicular and the pitch is reversed, the motor can be made to act as a pump. By the simple expedience of using the motor as a motor during acceleration, and as a pump during deceleration, a large portion of the energy normally motive applications. An overall increase in energy conversion efficiency can be realized by utilizing the concept of regenerative breaking.

Thus, there has been disclosed two types of fluid pressure power plants which operate on a demand cycle and are adaptable to variable power output requirements. Theability to build the system in modular form is certain to increase reliability and enhance maintenance requirements.

Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in the light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.

I claim:

1. A fluid pressure power plant comprising:

means for generating heat energy;

at least one piston for converting the heat energy to high hydraulic pressure;

said energy converting piston having an upper chamber for receiving the heat energy and a lower chamher for receiving a hydraulic fluid at low pressure;

means supplying low pressure hydraulic fluid to the lower chamber of the energy converting piston;

means releasing the low pressure hydraulic fluid into the lower chamber when the piston reaches the bottom of its stroke to force the piston upward;

means for accumulating the high pressure hydraulic fluid output of the energy converting piston;

means for utilizing the power from the high pressure hydraulic fluid output of the energy converting piston;

means for controlling the flow of high pressure hydraulic fluid from the accumulating means to the powerutilizing means; and

means for returning the hydraulic fluid from the power utilizing means to the low pressure hydraulic fluid supplying means. I

2. The fluid pressure power plant of claim 1 wherein the means for generating heat energy comprises:

a steam generator;

means supplying hydraulic fluid to said steam generator;

means for preheating the hydraulic fluid supplied to the steam generator;

means for accumulating the steam generator under low pressure; and

means for turning off the steam generator when the steam accumulator reaches a predetermined limit.

3. The fluid pressure power plant of claim 2 wherein the energy converting piston includes:

an intake valve for releasing steam into the upper chamber when the piston is at the top of its stroke and on its downward stroke;

an exhaust valve for expending the steam from the upper chamber when the piston is on its upward stroke;

hydraulic means for opening the intake valve and closing the exhaust valve when the piston is at the top of its stroke and closing the intake valve and opening the exhaust valve when the piston is at the bottom of its stroke; and means for controlling the flow of hydraulic fluid at high pressure to the accumulating means when the piston is on its downward stroke.

4. The fluid pressure power plant of claim 3 wherein the hydraulic means for opening and closing the intake and exhaust valve comprises a 'port connected to the lower chamber, said port receiving the low pressure hydraulic fluid when the piston reaches a predetermined position in its upward stroke so that the intake valve is opened and the exhaust valve is closed;

the hydraulic fluid port to the intake and exhaust valves being situated at a point in the lower chamber so that as the lower end of the piston passes the port on its downward stroke, the hydraulic pressure can gradually bleed off the valves until the intake valve is closed and the exhaust valve is opened at the bottom of the piston stroke.

5. The fluidpressure power plant of claim 4 wherein the means for supplying hydraulic fluid at low pressure I comprises:

a reservoir; means for cooling the reservoir; means for pumping the hydraulic fluid in the reservoir to a low pressure accumulator; and

control means connecting the low pressure hydraulic fluid to the steam generator and the lower chamber of the power conversion piston.

6. The fluid pressure power plant of claim 5 wherein the means for returning the hydraulic fluid to the low pressure supply comprises:

means for feeding the hydraulic fluid back to the reservoir after the high pressure has been dissipated in the power utilizing means.

7. The fluid pressure power plant of claim 6 wherein the hydraulic fluid is comprised of:

a lubricating fluid mixed with the hydraulic fluid capable of passing through a vapor cycle; and

a centrifugal separator receiving the hydraulic fluid and lubricant mixture from the low pressure accumulator and separating the lubricant from the mix- 5 ture prior to passing the hydraulic fluid to the steam generator.

8. The fluid pressure power plant of claim 1 wherein the means for converting heat energy to high hydraulic pressure comprises:

a group of at least four cylinders with each piston therein being out of phase with the preceding piston, said cylinders comprising:

a heat input chamber;

an expansion chamber adjacent to the top of the piston containing a heat expandable gas and separated from the heat chamber by a thin metal membrane acting as a heat exchanger;

a cool gas chamber below the head of the piston including means for cycling and recycling the heat expandable gas from the chamber above the piston to the cool gas chamber below the piston of the next adjacent piston; and

a low pressure hydraulic fluid chamber at the lower end of the piston.

9. The fluid pressure power plant of claim 8 wherein the means for cycling and recycling the heat expandable gas includes heat regenerators for preheating the gas when it is flowing from the cool gas chamber to the hot gas chamber above the piston.

10. The fluid pressure power plant of claim 9 including means for cyclically providing low pressure hydraulic fluid to the power conversion pistons, said means including a series of valves for switching the flow of low pressure hydraulic fluid from one piston to another as each successively reaches the bottom of its downward stroke.

11. The fluid pressure power plant of claim 10 wherein the cool gas chamber below the piston head is surrounded by a water cooling jacket.

12. The fluid pressure power plant of claim 11 wherein the heat energy is supplied to the heat chambers through heat pipes.

13. The fluid pressure power plant of claim 11 wherein the heat for the hot gas chamber is supplied by direct heat transfer from a built-in heat source.

14. A method of producing power from heat energy comprising:

supplying hydraulic fluid at low pressure to at least one power converting piston;

generating heat energy;

feeding the heat energy to the power converting piston;

converting the heat energy to high hydraulic pressure;

storing the high pressure hydraulic fluid for use on demand;

recycling the piston with the low pressure hydraulic fluid;

driving a power unit with the power created by the high hydraulic pressure.

15. The method of claim M further including the steps of:

controlling the flow of high hydraulic pressure to the power units; and

directing the hydraulic fluid after use by the power unit back to a main reservoirfor recycling through the system.

16. The method of claim 15 wherein the step of gen erating heat energy comprises:

generating steam;

storing the steam in an accumulator at low pressure;

and controlling the flow of steam to power converting piston. 17. The method of claim 15 wherein the heat energy generation step comprises:

generating heat; directing the heat to the power converting piston;

and r transferring the heat to a heat expandable gas to drive the piston. 18. The method of claim 17 wherein the power conversion system includes the steps of:

cyclically operating a group of four pistons with the pistons operating at a phase angle of 90 mechanical degrees with respect to the preceding piston. 19. The fluid pressure power plant of claim 11 wherein the high pressure accumulator is an air bladder type accumulator.

20. The fluid pressure power plant of claim 7 wherein the high pressure accumulator is an air bladder type accumulator. v

21. The method of claim 16 including the steps of:

condensing the steam to a fluid after use by the power conversionpiston;

preheating the hydraulic fluid flowing to the steam generator with the heat of condensation; and feeding the condensed steam back to the main reservoir for recycling.

22. The method of claim 21 including the steps of:

reclaiming heat from the exhaust of the steam generator with a heat exchanger; and

preheating the hydraulic fluid flowing to the steam changer

Patent Citations
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Classifications
U.S. Classification60/327, 60/325, 417/401
International ClassificationF04B9/125, F04B9/00
Cooperative ClassificationF04B9/1253
European ClassificationF04B9/125A