Robert F. Bourque, Ph. D., P.E.
Bourque Engineering LLC
Los Alamos, New Mexico USA

The Bourque Steam Engine







Motivations For This Engine


Requirements and Constraints




Prototype Development


Description of the Bourque Cycle


Features of the Cycle


The Complexity Issue


Fuel Requirements


First Example Engine in a Vehicle


Description of the Expander


Expander Hot Cylinder Lubrication


Expander Piston Structural Analysis


Two More Engine and Vehicle Examples


Other Engine Components






Water Freezing


Control System


Starting Time






Some Unit Conversions


Notes and References

A Compact Pollution-Free
External Combustion Engine
with High Part-Load Efficiency

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Notes and References

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For a list of the dozens of steam automobile manufacturers that existed mainly in the early 20th century see: It also lists most of the known IC engine-driven automobile manufacturers over time
The Steam Automobile Club of America serves as a focus for most current hobbyist activities in steam engines. See:
A vintage Popular Mechanics article on Bill Lear’s steam car can be found here.
R.W. Hauck, M. Wenstrom, and R. Renner, The California Clean Car Project, Final Report, November 15, 1974.
The highest estimate for remaining oil reserves is 1342 billion barrels. See the tabulation from the US DOE Energy Information Administration at:
World oil consumption as of July 2009 was 85.47 million barrels per day. See the DOE/EIA tabulation at: This translates to 5500 cubic feet per second!
Dividing Ref. 5 by Ref. 6 gives 15701 days = 43 years.
From the US Environmental Protection Agency. See:
Based on: Gasoline/diesel average lower heating value of 43.2 MJ/kg, average coal heating value of 25.5 MJ/kg, average coal plant heat rate of 10.6 MJ/kWh, electricity transmission and vehicle motor efficiencies of 95%, and vehicle battery charge/discharge efficiencies of 90%. This is compared to an IC engine-powered vehicle with cruise specific fuel consumption of 450 gm/kWh. The end result is that the plug-in vehicle generates about 50% more carbon dioxide if its charging electricity comes from coal plants.
DuPont developed many different working fluids for steam power, mainly with the intention of being able to use turbines of reasonable size (steam turbines are too small for automobiles). An interesting article on their efforts is found here.
R.F. Bourque, External Combustion Power Cycle and Engine with Combustion Air Preheating, US Patent No. 4,090,362, issued May 23, 1978.
R.C. Juvinall, Fundamentals of Machine Component Design, John Wiley and Sons, 1983, (Figure 1.10).
Composite specific fuel consumption data was derived from and
G. Genta and L. Morello, The Automotive Chassis v.2 System Design, Ch 22 p. 172, Springer Verlag 2009.
Taken from consumer reviews reported at:
E.E. Bisson and W.J. Anderson, Advanced Bearing Technology, NASA SP-38, 1965.
Graphitized metals are used in high-temperature food processing equipment to avoid contamination. One source is seen at Peak operating temperatures are claimed to reach 1500 ºF (800 ºC)
M.K. Impex in Canada specializes in dry lubricants and could be helpful in the evaluation program. See:
H.E. Sliney, Carbide/Fluoride/Silver Self-Lubricating Composite, US Patent 4,728,448 issued March 1, 1988 and assigned to NASA.
C. DellaCorte and J.C. Wood, High Temperature Solid Lubricant Materials for Heavy Duty and Advanced Heat Engines, DOE/NASA/50306-5, NASA TM-106570, 1994 Fall Technical Conference, ASME Internal Combustion Engine Division.
J.G. Smith, NiBron Nickel Boron Wear Resistant Coatings, Amer. Soc. Metals, Metals/Materials Technology Series, Paper 8305-041, October 1983.
Armoloy has developed a chrome plating specific for wear resistance at high temperature. See:
P.N. Dyer et al, Cvd Tungsten Carbide and Titanium Carbide Coatings for Aerospace Components, SAE Paper 890933, April 1989. Abstract visible at:
R.F. Bourque, Shaft seal having capacity for substantial wear, US Patent 5,306,022, issued April 26, 1994 and assigned to General Atomics.
American Society of Mechanical Engineers Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code Section VIII Div. 1 and 2, Section II Part D, and Section I.
H.G. Lew et al, Low NOx Heavy Fuel Concept Program, Phase 1: Combustion Technology Generation, Final Report DOE/NASA/0146-1, NASA CR-165482, October 1981.
W.M. Kays and A.L. London, Compact Heat Exchangers, McGraw-Hill 1964.

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