Justin Elkin

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A comeback for the steam-driven automobile?

If you haven't heard of the Stanley Steamer, it was a steam driven automobile popular around the turn of the 20th century. The cars were ingenious, yet simple. A petroleum burner heated water inside of vertical fire-tubes with motion acheived with the energy of the pressure of the steam transfered via crankshaft by a thick chain connected from the engine crankshaft to a rear differential.

Fred Marriott drove a steam powered vehicle built by the Stanley Brothers to newsworthy speed at the time of 127.659 MPH in 1906. Jay Leno is actually in possession of a Stanley Steamer and has been featured on shows on the subject.

History has shown steam technology proved no match for the internal combustion engine, with innovators like Henry Ford and the technology's which accompanied it, in the years before WW1, as competition.

Is it worth investing time and money into steam-driven technology today? Could steam technology curve the impact of an oil shortage? In what ways might we now have the ability to boil water faster than kerosene? Microwaves, mini-nuclear engines? I'm sure there are innovations I'm unaware of but is it too good to be true?