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Extraordinary Engines

Background

Energy has many different forms like gravitational, kinetic, electrical, chemical energy and as we know from Albert Einstein, even mass. According to the first law of thermodynamics the total amount of energy remains constant and can only be converted from one form into another. We are familiar with processes like the acceleration of a stone falling to earth (conversion of gravitational into kinetic energy), or the burning of gasoline to drive our car (conversion of chemical into kinetic energy). But what about "water" that drives a swinging object or generating electricity from falling water drops? Can you imagine the direct conversion of light into rotational movement? Or the conversion of heat into kinetic energy in an engine mainly built of a special metal wire?

Our Devices

Extraordinary.Engines Bird
13 € - save 5.1 €
New Price: 7.9 €
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Bird - Movable Device
driven by Water Evaporation

At first sight our Bird, also called Drinking Bird or Dippy Bird, appears to be just a toy. But in fact it demonstrates a lot of thermodynamic phenomena: cooling by evaporation, the dependence of vapor pressure on temperature and the resulting force on a liquid column from the vapor pressure. The wet bird's head is cooled by the evaporation of the water, reducing the pressure above the blue fluid inside the bird's neck. As the pressure above the liquid column is lower than that below it, the column of liquid is forced upwards, changing the center of mass and making the whole bird swing around the axis between his legs ... Just the small temperature differential between the surrounding air and the "cooled" bird's head is sufficient to generate the mechanical movement. See also Our Minto wheel Blog entry
Extraordinary.Engines CandleBoatKit
Extraordinary.Engines CandleBoatKit
Extraordinary.Engines CandleBoatKit
Price: 43 €
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CandleBoatKit - Catamaran Boat with Thermoelectric Drive - Kit

Power an electric boat by electricity generated from the heat of a candle using a thermogenerator: Provide cooling water and after lighting the candle the boats is slowly chugging away. The kit is easy to build using common hand tools.

The kit ships with assembly drawing and hints for construction both in English and German language.
Dimensions: length ~200mm, height ~150mm
The included candle gives an operation time of about 3-4 hours.
Extraordinary.Engines CandleCarKit
Extraordinary.Engines CandleCarKit
Extraordinary.Engines CandleCarKit
Price: 43 €
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CandleCarKit -
Threewheeler with Thermoelectric Drive

The kit demonstrates the direct conversion of heat into electrical energy via the Seebeck effect. Like in photovoltaic cells the generation of electricity results from processes on an atomic scale without macroscopic movement of mechanical parts. The atomic vibrations that correspond to heat result in a gradient of the electron's distribution i.e. an electrical voltage. For further information see: Thermoelectric

The Candle car is powered by a food warmer candle. Put the car on a flat and smooth ground, fill the upper reservoir with cold water (about one third) and light the candle. The resulting temperature difference between both sides of the thermogenerator produces electricity supplying the electrical motor on the front wheel. After a minute or two the car starts moving and slowly speeds up. It moves on a straight path or turns around in circles, what is adjustable via twisting the middle joint. The car's speed increases by using cold water from the fridge or adding some ice cubes.

The kit ships with assembly drawing and hints for construction both in English and German language.
Dimensions: diameter ~100mm, height ~150mm
The included candle gives an operation time of about 3-4 hours.
Extraordinary.Engines ElectrostaticMotor
221 € - save 122 €
New Price: 99 €
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ElectrostaticMotor - Engine converting electrostatic Energy into rotational Movement

The ElectrostaticMotor provides a dynamic demonstration of electrostatic attraction and repulsion. The device consists of a spoked conductive wheel that rotates in the vertical plane on a precision ball bearing. When the two stationary conductors, mounted 180º apart, are connected to an electrostatic source (charged rod, Van de Graaff Generator, Kelvin Engine etc.), the wheel rotates due to the alternating attraction and repulsion between the spokes and the stationary conductors and thus clearly demonstrates the conversion of electrostatic into kinetic energy.
Extraordinary.Engines Heatmobile2.0Kit
Extraordinary.Engines Heatmobile2.0Kit
Price: 35 €
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Heatmobile2.0Kit - Memory Metal Engine driven by hot Water

Heatmobile - a successor of the famous Thermobile of Frederick Wang - is back on the market. The Heatmobile is a very special kind of heat engine that demonstrates the conversion of heat into mechanical energy. It uses the unique property of Nitinol alloy (~50% Nickel, ~50% Titanium, the "nol" at the end of Nitinol refers to Naval Ordnance Laboratory in Maryland USA where this alloy has been developed) called the "memory effect". Once Nitinol has been formed into shape at high temperature (about 600º C) and allowed to cool to room temperature, it can be easily deformed. However, when heated above a transition temperature (in this application about 50ºC to 70º C) the Nitinol object abruptly returns to its high-temperature shape with substantially more force than that required to deform it when cold. Heatmobile uses a Nitinol wire formed to a closed loop that drives the two connected wheels.
Extraordinary.Engines KelvinEngine
Price: 236 €
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KelvinEngine - Engine converting Energy of falling
Water Drops into Electricity

Using the work done by falling drops of ordinary tap water, the amazing KelvinEngine separates and stores electrostatic charges to a potential difference of approximately two kilovolts, but is perfectly safe because of the extremely low current involved. The stored charge causes a fluorescent tube to flash periodically (every 5-10 seconds) as long as water is dripping from the upper tank. Note: The generated electricity does not come "out of the blue" nor, as some people claim, from the water itself. It's simply a conversion of the potential energy of the water in the upper reservoir into electrical energy.
Extraordinary.Engines LightRotor
Extraordinary.Engines LightRotor
Extraordinary.Engines LightRotor
Price: 22 €
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LightRotor - Rotary Candle Lantern - white

LightRotor (*) the latest device from exergia provides a simple demonstration of the conversion of heat into a rotational movement i.e. kinetic energy: The air inside the rotatable cylinder is heated by the candle. This warm air has a density (remember: density is mass per volume) less than that of the surrounding cold air. So it is lighter and rising inside the cylinder. It is the same effect like a rising cork after dipping under water. The result is an ascending air flow that drives the propeller and the connected cylinder.
Beside the pure physical demonstration the LightRotor is very aesthetic device. The light of the candle shines through the transparent paper and so the rotor glows: an illuminated and rotating lampion.
The kit is shipped in a flat box and includes all parts, two candles and a construction guide with drawings describing all steps of assembling. The lampshade is made of two flat transparent paper sheets that have to be folded to a cylindrical form and connected to each other and the preassembled propeller via metal clips. All other joints are made by plugging. The kit requires no gluing and is easy to assemble within a few minutes.
Height ~33 cm.

(*) Patent pending
Extraordinary.Engines Radiometer
Price: 20 €
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Radiometer - Thermal Repulsion Drive

The original Radiometer was invented by Sir William Crookes in the mid-nineteenth century to measure the intensity of radiant energy. The glass bulb contains an object that looks like a weather vane. Opposite sides of each metal vane are matt black and silvered. As light hits the vanes (sunlight, indoor light), the polished side reflects the light while the dark side absorbs it and this results in a temperature difference between the two sides of the vane. As the air molecules inside the bulb "kick" away from the hot dark side, they transfer momentum causing the vane to spin. Note: The rotation of the radiometer vane is not related to the momentum of the photons (the particles associated with light itself) as often stated; as Crookes found, if the bulb is (almost) completely evacuated the vanes do not turn.
Extraordinary.Engines Seesaw
Price: 23 €
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Seesaw - Candle Bimetal Engine

The bimetal spiral spring is the key component of this engine. A bimetal consists of two metals with different rates of expansion when heated. When the spiral spring is heated over the candle, it twists moving the bead to the other side making the see-saw tip over. This moves the spiral spring away from the flame, the bimetal spring cools down until it has contracted enough to make the see-saw tip back into its original position and start the cycle again.
Extraordinary.Engines ThermoGenerator2.0Kit
Extraordinary.Engines ThermoGenerator2.0Kit
Extraordinary.Engines ThermoGenerator2.0Kit
43 € - save 7 €
New Price: 36 €
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ThermoGenerator2.0Kit -
Thermoelectric Generator Kit

The kit demonstrates the direct conversion of heat into electrical energy via the Seebeck effect. Like in photovoltaic cells the generation of electricity results from processes on an atomic scale without macroscopic movement of mechanical parts. The atomic vibrations that correspond to heat result in a gradient of the electron's distribution i.e. an electrical voltage. For further information see: Thermoelectric

The key component is the Peltier element that is connected to two aluminium L-profiles. One aluminium profile conducts heat from a reservoir with hot water to one side of the Peltier element. The other profile conducts heat from the back side of the Peltier element to a cold water reservoir. As long as there is a temperature differential of about 10 deg. between the back and front side of the Peltier element sufficient electricity is generated to power the connected motor with the propeller.

Assembling the kit is very easy and takes only a few minutes. The kit includes:

  • Peltier module
  • 2 water bathes of acrylic plastic
  • motor with propeller
  • fasteners and screws
  • assembly instruction
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