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Sugar as a Fuel?

Post questions and info about combustion (flammable vapor) powered cannons here. This includes discussion about fuels, ratios, ignition systems, safety, and anything else relevant.
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Do you think it could work?

Yes, and it could equal or beat propane for power.
6
21%
Yes, but not as powerful as propane.
3
11%
Yes, but it sounds too difficult.
7
25%
No, what kind of idiot are you?
6
21%
ROFL!!!!!!!
6
21%
 
Total votes : 28
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Sugar as a Fuel?

Unread postAuthor: joannaardway » Wed Oct 11, 2006 3:34 pm

I forget which forum it was on, but I remember seeing a topic about using powders in socks as ammo.

My mind drifts naturally, and I came up with a new idea. Could a cannon be powered by a suspended powder?

Thinking back to early school science, I recalled an experiment involving flour, a bike pump, a candle and a tin.
Basically, the candle was in a tin, and flour was squirted out of a small container with the pump - dispersing the flour, and resulting in the lid blasting off.
The result wasn't far off what I get from a Pringles tube, deodorant and a match.

Answer: Yes, it probably could

How good a fuel would it be?

Going off to do some maths, icing sugar, or other fine sugar would be incredibly powerful as a fuel, at least according to my rough figures, which don't account for everything.

In an appropriate ratio, sugar yeilds 5% more energy than propane for the same volume of air. However, because of the structure of sugar, when burnt, it produces massive amounts of gas.

In a 3000 cc chamber, propane produces the equivalent of 3270 cc of exhaust gas (at atmospheric pressure and temperature). Sugar produces 4100 ccs, a much higher number - meaning more pressure, and presumably a different C:B ratio.

So, in theory, the resulting power could be in excess of MAPP, but without the detonation risks of acetylene.

The problem lies with ignition. It could be difficult. Strong chamber currents (thus a chamber fan) would be essential to keep the powder air borne, and jet ignition from a special setup (probably using a small side chamber of air/propane) would probably be the best bet, but a camera flash or a stungun might do it.

I know, it sounds rather silly, but I reckon it can be done.

In short, sugar could be very powerful as a fuel. A method can definately be put together to get ignition.

I am sorely tempted to try it (possibly in a multi-fuel cannon, intended to take solid fuels like flour and sugar, liquids, and the standard gases). At the very worst, if it's not very powerful, at least it will smell of caramel after firing, and it will be pretty unique.

If it works then it could lead to use of more liquid and "solid" fuels.
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Unread postAuthor: cannon freak » Wed Oct 11, 2006 3:48 pm

Im not completly shure but I don't think sugar will burn fast enough for what you want.
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Unread postAuthor: Extrusion » Wed Oct 11, 2006 3:59 pm

This is a good idea i suppose you could do something like this...

Put a hole just big enough for a propane torch head in the side of the chamber then get a compressor with a blow gun and pour in some powdered sugar make another hole big enough for the blowgun in the bottom of the chamber with the powdered sugar on top of course you will need some way to secure the blow gun nozzle and the torch head because they might and probably with fly off now ignite the torch head (could use 2 screws near the torch head hooked up to a stun gun then blow the blow gun wich would stir up the sugar and the torch head will ignite the sugar.

Just something i was thinking of and suger is an awsome fuel i remember when i was younger i would turn on the stove and throw a handfull of sugar on it (i was a pyromaniac back then lol) it would result in a big WOOF and lots of flame although sugar produces a very sticky syrup when burned and if it dries it will be pretty easy to just chip off with your finger.
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Unread postAuthor: COD_FILLETS » Wed Oct 11, 2006 5:37 pm

There is a fuel that you could make from sugar with a more ingredents, but I think it would fall under "explosives".
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Unread postAuthor: frankrede » Wed Oct 11, 2006 5:51 pm

I think this is against forum rules.Solid fuel.
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Unread postAuthor: zeigs spud » Wed Oct 11, 2006 6:12 pm

true it could be but i think that mainly falls under for gun powder types of fuel. anywho if you did do that it would be a good idea but probably not worth all the effort of...
1-cleaning out the chamber (make a special plunger for it mabey)
2-the electrodes to ignight the blow torch would get insilated
3-the chamber fan would most likely get coated and ruined from the left over sticky crap sugar leaves behind...

really good idea thinkin outa the box but i dought it would catch on with alota ppl.
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Unread postAuthor: Pyro Ninja » Wed Oct 11, 2006 6:14 pm

Thats alot of trouble to go to even if it does work and as u said lighting it will be pretty hard but still good luck with it. :D
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Unread postAuthor: rna_duelers » Wed Oct 11, 2006 6:55 pm

Go for it i say,the first recorded suspended fuel cannon.It could also be tried with other substances such as powderd Aluminium and magnesium and they would only leave behind the oxides of the metals which can be removed easily.
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Unread postAuthor: benstern » Wed Oct 11, 2006 8:27 pm

DO IT!!! Also if it does work, give us some test data.
You should try coal dust too!

Next up: sugar hybrids!
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Last edited by benstern on Wed Oct 11, 2006 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postAuthor: rl93 » Wed Oct 11, 2006 8:28 pm

i wouldnt use coaldust
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Unread postAuthor: Extrusion » Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:05 pm

I dont think coal dust would ignite, would it? well almso anything that is very fine floating around can ignite flour, powdered sugar, saw dust nun the less i might try this ill start off with trying it in a mini when i get time.
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Unread postAuthor: benstern » Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:16 pm

From wikipedia: "Coal dust suspended in air is explosive."
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Unread postAuthor: Extrusion » Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:19 pm

O well you just proved me wrong XD explosive eh i got an idea to test that get one of those remote bottle rocket ignitors and put in in my mini shake it up so the dust is in the air go hide and push the button i think im gonna test it like that lol.
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Unread postAuthor: joannaardway » Thu Oct 12, 2006 3:58 am

The rules say that this is fine for discussion.

I'm planning to try and go ahead with this as best as I can, just to be original.

The final design will probably be able to handle hybrid mixes of some form - just to be really original.

It'll be nice to be considered the "original creator" of something...

I will definately try different powders when I can. Metal powders would need some care though.

Sucrose needs a 1.75% concentration by moles, for a theoritical perfect fuel/air ratio. In practise, it might be higher than that, if surface area and burn speeds are factored in. Research and experimentation would be needed.

1.75% translates to .5cc of sugar - which doesn't seem a lot, but sugar is much denser than air.

Icing sugar would be my fuel of choice, both because of ease of suspending the fuel, and the fine powder.

I was thinking twin fans, set up to cycle the air around the chamber, keeping the powder constantly in motion.

I made two slight mistakes in the opening post. The actual figure for energy is 106%, and sugar produces 4160 ccs of gases.

A liquid atomizer will probably also be fitted, so that this cannon can handle suspended solid, liquid and gaseous fuels - which would be seriously cool.

Petrol will probably not go amongst the liquids to be atomised.

The sticky sugar residue will hopefully be minimal with the right ratio, and fine enough powder. At the very worst the residue should be easier removed than that of hairspray.

The fuel injection and "metering" will obviously be rather different to a propane metering system, and will need to be designed to "blast" the fuel into the air, as it won't mix naturally.

EDIT: Oh yeah, you'll definately get some test data and videos. Sorry, but the caramel smell won't be available on the video version.

I'm also impressed by the number of people that think it could be at least comparable to propane.

So far both here and on UKSGC, people have only said "Equal or beat" or "It won't work", the former category having about 2/3rds of the total votes.
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Unread postAuthor: experament_u2 » Thu Oct 12, 2006 4:28 am

u chaps just never stop thinking of new and exciting ways to make ur home made firearms awsome i cant wait to c if this works good luck with it :D
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