Per Ryan’s request…The Coal Powered Rocket

As Ryan requested in Episode 46 – Alien Invasion, here is my preliminary design of a coal-powered rocket:

(Click the image to zoom to full size…Take note of the detail in the coal-room.)

Find out my design assumptions, and how you can win a prize after the jump…

Design Assumptions:

  1. The coal is a “super-coal” that burns extra hot; so hot that an infinite amount of water would never “cool off” the heat exchanger.  (Not this stuff)
  2. The water is “super-water” that is mega-dense yet extremely light, so that enough of it can be stored as “fuel” to allow a full flight.  It also vaporizes into steam much more violently and with a higher pressure than regular water.  I’m calling it “H20-10“.
  3. The materials of the heat exchanger and super-coal burner are hereto-unforeseen MEGA-ALLOYS that have no melting point.  They can withstand infinite heat without melting, weakening, or creeping.
  4. Charlie can shovel coal infinitely fast.  This is only barely an assumption…
  5. The turbopump is augmented by an external power source to ensure the flow never reverses.
  6. The aerodynamic stability of the rocket is handled by either thrust vectoring or fins.  The kink in the steam tube will create a pitch-moment that will need to be corrected for.
  7. The heat exchanger is perfectly efficient, so that all of the heat & kinetic energy is removed from the coal smoke and heat source and absorbed by the water.
  8. I forgot about Oxygen for Charlie & the coal-room…  Sorry Charlie.  Assume there’s an infinite amount of oxygen in the coal-room, or that the oxygen bubbles released from the water during vaporization is captured and re-used.
  9. Assume the coal-feeder has an infinite amount of super-coal.

Potential for Prizes

Ok, so given my perfectly reasonable assumptions listed above… *cough*… I can think of at least one reason why this design wouldn’t actually work, and I’m sure there are more that I haven’t thought of.

If you can find a valid, physics-based reason for why this design wouldn’t work, email me at, and if you’re right, I’ll send you a special prize!!


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One Response to Per Ryan’s request…The Coal Powered Rocket

  1. dkNo Gravatar 1 September, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    No idea…but when it *does* fail to work, it would make a bitchin’ coal BBQ grill. Even cooler than this guy:

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