Carbon Disulphide Engines.>
This is a very obscure corner of technology indeed, and I can only offer a few crumbs of information at present. If anyone knows more, I would be most gratified to hear from them.
The boiling point of carbon disulphide is only 46.3°C at atmospheric pressure. Unfortunately, any stand-alone cycle using volatile liquids is doomed to inefficiency because the temperature at which the heat is taken up is low. See: Thermodynamics: Carnot efficiency. However the low boiling point means it can be made to boil by heat rejected from other processes, in a "bottoming cycle" that produces extra useful work.
The info here is as given by Wiliam Colwell in his book, tersely entitled 'Triple Thermic Motor'.
The first person known to have considered carbon disulphide as a working fluid was Charles William Siemens who proposed using a mixture of carbon disulphide and steam, but gave no practical details.
The first patent granted for 'Employment of Vapourised Bi-Sulphide of Carbon as a Motive Power' was in England, to Charles Frederick Stansbury in 1854. This was a communication from Bernard Hughes of Rochester, NY, who proposed to fill a boiler with carbon disulphide and heat it in the usual way. Alternatively he suggested a boiler half-full of water, into which the liquid carbon disulphide was injected. Bernard Hughes is unknown to Google.
Arthur Vincent Newton proposed in an English patent in 1856, to use a devil's brew of 1 part coal tar, 8 parts oil, and 8 parts carbon disulphide, which was described as a 'gaseous liquid' which I suggest is a contradiction. It appears that acid was added to convert the carbon disulphide to carbon dioxide, which makes one wonder what the other ingredients were there for.
J O York in a 1856 English patent, proposed to vapourise carbon disulphide by injecting it into a generator heated by steam.
THE METHOD OF FELL & BUNSTER: CARBON DISULPHIDE AND GLYCERINE: 1877
In this scheme carbon disulphide is heated directly in a boiler that was part-filled with glycerine. Given the inflammability of carbon disulphide this strikes me as a hazardous process.
Left: The Fell & Bunster patent
The saving of fuel is of course thermodynamically infeasible, and saying that latent heat is measured in units of temperature does not inspire confidence.
The patent gives no clue as to whether this scheme was ever constructed and tested, but F & B are unknown to Google apart from this patent, so probably not.
The F & B patent mentions the exploits of Bernard Hughes, (see above) who in 1854 patented a method of injecting carbon disulphide into water, and using the resulting vapour to propel machinery.
COLWELL'S CARBON DISULPHIDE MOTOR: 1879
The big name in carbon disulphide engines is William S Cowell, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
William S Colwell was granted US patent 220,220 for a 'Motor and apparatus for utilising it' in October 1879. This appears to have been his first foray into the world of carbon disulphide. One of the patent claims was for coating the vessels used with tin to prevent corrosion from the carbon disulphide.
In this design the carbon disulphide is heated not directly in a boiler but indirectly by steam. The steam boiler A passes steam to the disulphide boiler by pipes D and D', which steam-jacket the disulphide cylinder H. The disulphide vapour passes to the engine cylinder H via a pipe t, which is concentrically inside pipe D'. The exhaust disulphide goes via pipe u to the disulphide condenser at F, which is supplied with both cooling water and forced to agitate the water.
As is often the case, the patent text is long and complicated, but having pieced through it I have not found any claim that this machinery will be more efficient than a much simpler conventional steam engine, though it does claim 'great economy'. There is a passage about the heat from the exhaust carbon disulphide being returned to the vapour generator, but unless the heat is being pumped uphill by the expenditure of energy, this is forbidden by the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
Left: Colwell carbon disulphide motor: 1879
This passage in the patent text shows that Colwell was fully aware of the inflammability of carbon disulphide:
"The advantage of the method and means hereinbefore described for evolving the bisulphide of carbon into a vapour for a motor without the presence of fire at or near the vaporizing chamber is a very important feature of my invention, the advantage and value of which cannot be overestimated..." I quite agree.
However, Colwell does not specifically warn that carbon disulphide is highly inflammable, and nowhere in the patent does he mention that it is poisonous.
COLWELL'S CARBON DISULPHIDE LOCOMOTIVE: 1879
This remarkable proposal for a locomotive driven by carbon disulphide vapour is taken from US patent 225,689, filed in October 1879, by William S Colwell of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Like the motor above, it uses steam to heat the liquid carbon disulphide indirectly.
Left: The Colwell locomotive in section
Left: The Colwell locomotive in section
It is not currently known if anyone tried to actually build and operate this locomotive; one hopes not. It seems extremely unlikely that they did.
THE ELLIS ARRANGEMENT: 1881
Left: The Ellis Arrangement
COLWELL AND THE TRIPLE THERMIC MOTOR: 1885
William Colwell's interest in carbon disulphide as a working fluid did not evaporate. He took out US patent 313,176 'Triple Thermic Motor' in March 1885, and US patents 432,510 and 432,511 with the same title in July 1890. This is not ther first time I have found two apparently identical patents with adjacent numbers. I have no idea what it means.
The New York Times for 2 March 1884 carried this headline:
ANOTHER WONDERFUL MOTOR; A NEW POWER WHICH MAY SUPPLANT THE STEAM ENGINE.
"CHICAGO, March 1. An announcement is made of the discovery of a new and remarkable motor known as "The Triple Thermic Motor." The new motive power is the vapor of bi-sulphide of carbon. It has been in practical use in driving a 60-horse power engine for six months past in a cement paving manufactory on West 46th-street, New-York."
I may be wrong but I seem to detect some world-weariness in: 'ANOTHER WONDERFUL MOTOR'. I suspect that the New York Times was recalling the Zeromotor scandal which was about at the time.
Another unenthusiatic reference to the Triple Thermal Motor was made in Scientific American in 1884. You can read this on the Odd Working Fluid page.
Colwell produced a book to publicise the Triple Thermal Motor. You can see it here. Part of the book is an article which in its conclusion makes some startling claims:
These claims seem to indicate that the author (and I am sure it was Colwell) has by now lost all touch with engineering reality.
Left: The Triple Thermic Motor: 1883
Above: The Triple Thermic Motor: 1883. From the book on the Triple Thermal Motor mentioned above.
Left: Patent model of the Triple Thermic Motor: 1883
The question remains as to whether Colwell was deluded or a crook. Bearing in mind that: "...no disinterested tests were allowed, and purchasers of stock are said to have been badly stuck." (See on the Odd Working Fluid page) I'm inclined to go with the latter.
CARBON DISULPHIDE AS A SUBSTANCE
There are lots of reasons why using carbon disulphide as a working fluid is not a good idea. As soon as you depart from water or air, you find yourself dealing with something that is expensive, explosive, poisonous, or all three. So what about carbon disulphide?
I don't have any figures to hand for the cost of carbon disulphide, but it is clearly going to cost a lot more than water.
Carbon disulphide evaporates at room temperature, and the vapour is more than twice as heavy as air. Carbon disulphide easily forms explosive mixtures with air and ignites very easily; it is dangerous when exposed to heat, flame, sparks, or friction. Vapors can be ignited by contact with an ordinary light bulb.
Acute carbon disulphide poisoning is very dangerous. Absorption can occur through the skin, by ingestion or by inhalation. In severe poisoning, the subject quickly becomes comatose and death occurs in a few hours, usually due to respiratory depression and convulsions. In less severe cases local irritation, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain are followed by headache, euphoria, hallucinations, panic delirium, paranoid reactions and suicidal tendencies. In other words, your typical engineering development project.
"A low boiling point, high toxicity and an exceptional fire hazard make carbon disulphide an extremely dangerous substance; its use should be avoided wherever possible; usually a less dangerous substitute can be found."
From Safety In The Chemical Laboratory" by Pieters & Creyghton, pub Butterworth 1957.
And yet I can remember using it in the chemistry lab at school...
Not for the first time, it occurs to me that water is a really good choice as a working fluid.