Recently KMS Winter Term Alpine Athlete Musashi Eto fabricated a working steam engine - Teacher Richard Morse interviewed Musashi about the project.
1) Describe the very basic steam engine that you made in class -
The steam engine we made in class consisted of a closed soda can that we emptied by poking two holes using a safety pin. Once emptied, we filled it with water using the same holes from before. We then proceeded to hang the can off of a clamp using a fishing line. We then placed a Bunsen Burner below the can.
2) What was the trick to getting the can to spin? Why did it work?
The holes that we placed in the can acted as the only escape route for the steam that developed from evaporating the water. We angled the holes in one direction so that when the steam did escape, it propelled the can to spin in one direction.
3) What type of energy goes into the engine? Why is the rotational motion that results important?
Thermal energy is used to power the engine because the steam that is produced from the water being heated creates the rotational movement. It is important that it spun because it shows that thermal energy can result in mechanical work.
4) What allows a steam engine to perform mechanical work?
The piston, which was not included in our can, the steam causes the movement of the piston to help create mechanical work.