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I've worked with alternative fuel technologies to develop nonconventional vehicle systems. I designed a powertrain and a testing system for a hydrogen fuel cell powerplant that was eventually used in an autonomous tracked vehicle. I also discovered that I could easily make a fuel cell powered boat. This boat could hold several people and be used from everything from scientific research to fishing or recreation to publicity. If you are curious and interested in joining in funding for this boat, please contact me at


Turbine Research


"High" Speed turbines (as described on this site) -- (by high speed, I am describing turbines that operate on rpms several orders of magnitude greater than the slow speed turbines I describe later in this article)

These are exciting engines. The creation of these engines opened the imaginations of millions of people, made world travel feasible for almost anyone, and taken humans to places never thought possible. All right, rockets deserve a lot of credit as well. Speaking of rockets and high speed turbines, ever wonder how NASA gets the liquid to flow so quickly in some of their liquid based rockets? I'll give you a hint, it isn't by magic...



How does a jet turbine work?

I built a working jet - turbine from scrap parts. See more on Turbine Project


Low Speed Turbines (as described on this site)

Turbines have been used for years at the bases of huge dams, or on top of windy plains and hills. Sometimes a power supply is required where optimal conditions are not available. I was contacted about designing one such system for very slow fluid flows and I currently have several design ideas that I will model and test. Current designs can generate power from as little as one meter of head (pressure) water. However, there are many flows that are powerful large body of water flows, but at low speeds, with little or no change in elevation (no head). The lack of head and velocity creates a problem for using conventional designs. The flow behavior at those very low speeds is different, and conventional designs do not have enough efficiency to make their use practical. Yet these flows can move hundreds of thousands of pounds of dirt. That dirt can end up clogging shipping channels and reshaping river flows. That kind of power could be useful for more than just transferring dirt. Someone has contacted me about designing a turbine system for a slow flow current. I did some brainstorming and research into it, found out there is a 10 cm per second flow where they wanted to place this turbine, and I came up with some possible designs. Currently, that project is "dead in the water". I have had no correspondence with one of the researchers on it, and as far as I know there is no funding for it right now. If you hear otherwise (about the funding), please let me know.


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Update Jan 05

Turbine engine is going to run on diesel fuel. 

The turbine fuel system is being modified to send more fuel through the combustion chamber.  The goal is more power coming from the turbine.  I want to use diesel fuel because it is readily available is much safer than gasoline for my purposes.



The Turbine engine is operational.  After starting on a Saturday morning with most of the parts that we needed, albeit disassembled, we worked at a feverish pitch to machine and create everything else we needed to make the turbine run, and by nightfall we had a working turbine jet engine!!!



Turbine Jet Engine Project back online!  Turbine Project!

The Turbine Project is alive and well.  I had some time available to work more on the Turbine jet engine project.  I completed the oil system.  That was the catalyst of a flurry of activity of work to follow on the Turbine engine.  We have made the Combustion Chamber, Oil System, and the Test Stand. It is an ongoing project and the exciting date for firing up the engine is rapidly approaching.  See the Turbine Project! for updates.

How does a turbine jet work? First let me list the basic parts. Air intake, compressor (and shaft), combustion chamber, turbine (and shaft) , and exit nozzle. Alright, so now comes the flow of the gasses and some basic thermodynamics. Lets say we have a turbine engine parked on the ground. Air all around the front outside of the turbine engine is at atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature. The compressor starts pressing air into the combustion chamber. Much like a compressor for pumping up tires, or a fan that is used for moving air, the compressor moves air into the combustion chamber and increases the pressure of the air.
With thermodynamics, if you compress a sample of air, you will increase its temperature, but this raise in temperature alone isn't sufficient to run the turbine engine from (no perpetual motion machines). Fuel is added to the compressed air and it is ignited. This chemical change of oxidizing the fuel will increase the temperature of the gasses and thus increase volume of gasses. Since the same mass flow rate into the turbine engine is the same as the mass flow rate out, and we have increased the volume of the gasses, the volumetric flow is now much faster. Some of this energy is used by the turbine blades to turn the shaft that powers the compressor, the rest of the energy leaves the turbine as heat and thrust. The thrust is from the gasses leaving the turbine engine at high rates of speed in a controlled direction. This is where the nozzle comes into play. The nozzle influences the speed and direction of the exiting gasses.

Since all that is needed at the combustion chamber is a sharp rise of heat (as compared to the compressor temps), most any fuel can be used to power a turbine engine. Wood, oil, cooking grease, propane, (I do NOT recommend gasoline because of handling dangers), diesel fuel or kerosene, and many other materials may be used as fuels to run the cycle of the turbine engine.


Pulse Jet

Pulse jets are fun and easy to build. I built mine out of car exhaust pipe and sheet metal. Propane was the fuel of choice because it is easy to work with (already pressurized, no fuel pump required, atomizes readily, easy to buy and transport).

Some things must be louder than a pulse jet backfiring but at this moment I can't think of many. (of course I was just running one a few minutes ago so I am a little biased.) A pulse jet running (instead of backfiring) isn't horribly quieter. It can sound like sustained gunfire. My ears are pounding. Hearing protection is always a good idea. I'll have to put some pics and videos up soon. I do have pics and vids of a different jet engine. It is a turbine jet engine I built a bit back. Link is Here.

Pulse jets, as the name describes, operate in pulses of ignition of fuel.  The two main categories of pulse jets are ones with valves and ones without.  The valved pulse jets operate with valves that open to let air into a combustion chamber, and then close during combustion to force the expanding gas out the rear of the engine, thus giving thrust.  Pulse jets without valves rely on geometric shapes and ratios that will set up an oscillation of pressures that will in essence serve a similar function to the valves. 

 I built a Lockwood type pulse jet.  Most everyone that builds their valveless pulse jet uses some variation of the one patented by Lockwood, Bennett, and Graber, US patent number 3462955, 1967. The US patent office has drawings and descriptions of it on the internet.

Want more free plans or information on pulse jets? Check out this guy:

Mining Research

I worked as an engineering intern for the Department of Environmental Quality. 

I had several tasks to do, but the two biggest tasks I had was to study sulfide mining (sulfide mining research) and to investigate the use of explosives in mining. 

  Explorers have found valuable deposits in Michigan, and are studying the feasibility of mining their deposits.  With the possibility of new mining operations, excitement has been building.  Both in the anticipation of economical boosts and in the concern that these new mining operations will leave the land in better condition than many of the earlier mining operations in the UP.

During my studies of sulfide mining, I have studied everything from exploration of sulfide deposits to mine closure and monitoring procedures.  I have seen minerals that contain sulfur yet are very slow to oxidize and I have seen ore samples that are so reactive that if they were to be stacked more than 6 inches high and exposed to oxygen they would spontaneously combust.  I have searched through thousands of pages of information. I have visited many mines.  I wrote a good portion of a report on the subject of sulfide mining, which may someday be published.

I have a web page with some links and keywords to help you if you are interested in hard rock mining.  From here I also have links to a couple more mining pages that I put together under the photo section.

Here are some pictures of some mines from the Upper Peninsula: Mining Pictures from Upper Peninusla,

Here are some pictures from the Iron River area, some very old mines ran into some issues with mine design and with chemistry. Mining Pictures Iron River Area


  Oil, Gas, Thermal, Water . A good friend of mine is involved with using seismic data to find oil, gas, and water deposits. This may be something with which I'll be directly involved with after college. There are a variety of instruments already in use for this. For those that are interested in alternative fuels, there could be some light from this as well. Some companies are looking into using old wells as a means of tapping into geothermal engergy. Others can locate and identify groundwater (fresh water) . Many use these tools to find specific locations of oil and gas.

Update: I have worked as a logging engineer. No, that doesn't mean cutting down trees. What it means is well logging. I work primarily for the Oil and Gas businesses. I used acoustic/seismic, radioactive (fission and fusion), MRI, explosives, and other electric / imaging tools. Quite a bit goes into getting the gas that heats your water, or the gasoline that goes into your car.

Decoy Launcher.  I love hunting and I love training dogs.  One of my hunting buddies has a chessie that he trains to retrieve for hunt trials.  One problem he has is that he can’t launch the decoys far enough for his dog.  There are many different commercial products on the market for that express purpose, but being engineers, we did a little thinking on it on our own.  I’ve got a few ideas, using everything from springs to propane as propellant.  Maybe someday I’ll build a prototype, but for now I’ve got other things to occupy my time with.



Bow Stand.  I wanted to see if I could build a stable yet portable bow stand for less than $20 and in less than 2 hours.  I did it.  Sorry no pictures. I'll see if I can find some on an old CD or something. The old pics and page were on an old computer, no longer have access to it.

Advanced Propulsion Systems.  (Mainly ETC systems - Electro Thermo Chemical)

Ion Engine. The ion engines I have worked with shoot a stream of gas at very high speeds for thrust. This can be done by shooting an electron beam at a stream of gas in front of a charged plate. The changed gas atoms (now ions) are repelled by the charged plate. This repulsion can accelerate the gas atoms at 10's of thousands of meters per second away from the plate. This high speed is what gives the system it's thrust. Ion engines have applications for space use because they can use a very small amount of gas for thrust for thousands of hours. Electricity can be supplied by several methods conventionally used in outer space. Some one once asked me if I wanted to make an ion engine powered tractor. I just don't think that is a good use for them. The most efficient one I have seen can only operate well in a vacuum. That makes its use for space no problem, but can create problems for other uses such as earthbound slow travel.

I wanted to work on an aeronautical engineering project, so I went and talked to Dr. King.  I chose Dr. King because is head of the aeronautical area of my engineering college.  I chose aeronautical because it is something that I am familiar with.  I started flying airplanes at the age of 9, and I knew how the airplane’s wing worked at the age of 6, so I figured that would be a good place to start.  He said they didn’t have anything to do on airfoils at the moment, but they did have work to do on their ion “space” engine. 

I coordinated my project with several people, and I worked to make sure everyone was on schedule to get some testing done.  I won’t go into details of it, but there was an unexpected and exciting development of a new nano-material that is currently seeking a patent.  I also designed the test stand for the tests with no expenses because I used scrap material that was readily available.  If you would like to see more about the Ion engine, visit Dr. Kings web site.

Michigan Tech Ion Space Propulsion Laboratory

ETC- Electric Thermal Chemical -Using electricity, heat, and chemical energy to propel objects to high velocities with a gain either in repeatability, control, efficiency, or velocity. Great fun can be had with this area. I first became interested in this method when I was helping my friend conduct some experiments with his rail gun. The whole idea of ETC made more sense to me than just electricity alone. I guess it is because it was initially easier for me to visualize gas pressures than just electricity. I made a test piece that would create more plasma than the other test specimens. That piece resulted in a substantially higher velocity than the other specimens that day. Ever since then I have been fond of ETC propulsion.


Snowshoes.  I was looking outside, at the deep snow all around. I wanted to go outside, but it was much too deep to walk out there with no snowshoes. I didn't have any spare wood (save a couple of slim dowels) or metal, but I did have plenty of plastic hangers. I built a pair of snowshoes out of 6 plastic hangers and 4 slim wooden dowels.  They worked!

I've made snowshoes from wood, plastic, and metal with varying success from each. I made some frames from galvanized steel, and I may make a full pair out of aluminum later. 


Competitive Rifle Team.  I was a member of the MTU rifle team, then my last year at Tech I was the archery / rifle instructor. Good shooting is almost like meditation. To shoot well, I slow my heart rate down to a crawl. I take deep breaths and relax my whole body. I let my mind clear itself so there are no words or pictures in my head other than the site picture I am looking for. I go into a deeper state of meditation. I can feel if any of my muscles are straining. If I am in prone position, I use my toes to make fine adjustments to where I am pointing the gun. For a good shot, I am relaxed and looking for that sight picture. I am focused, yet relaxed. I "settle" into a good sight picture, and let the bullet fly. I still am looking for that sight picture even after I have made the shot. My sights should be on the target again.

I love marksmanship sports; I enjoy both rifle and pistol plinking. I have had the good fortune to meet a fair share of world-class marksmen/women to get tips from. All good shooters I have met have been fantastic people. Most good shooters I know are modest, soft spoken, polite, and always ready to help a friend or neighbor.

Remember always to be safe with firearms. Always transport your gun empty, and always treat it like it is loaded. Even with the safety on, always treat it as if it could shoot at any moment. That is to say, always have the gun pointed in a safe direction. NEVER point the firearm in the direction of another person, even if your gun is empty. These simple rules are not the end all of firearms safety but they will help make you a safer person around firearms.


©2005 MotorJoe



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