Cyclone Technologies

Modern steam power is here.

We met Harry Schoell – lead technical developer from Cyclone Technologies – as one of the many experts at the Steam Automobile Club of America Meeting. Cyclone Technologies appears to have the world’s first modern steam engine since many decades. We would like to point out some of the Cyclone accomplishments on steam engine power – which is important if we ever hope to clear up the great misconceptions about steam. The public has been thoroughly swindled in its conceptions regarding the true nature of steam power – such that Harry does not like to use the word ‘steam’ in describing his engine – because most people simply walk away when they hear the word ‘steam’. At the same time, you are probably using steam-turbine-generated electricity in your computer as you read this – if your electricity comes from a coal or nuke power plant.

In a nutshell – his steam engines are breakthrough. His Mark V engine has accomplished the following, so judge for yourself:

  • Water-lubrication – need no engine oil for lubrication
  • Higher efficiency than internal combustion gasoline engines
  • High power-to-weight ratio. His race-car version of the engine puts out 180 horsepower and weighs a total of 300 lb, including the steam generator. This will be used in the Land Steam Record race next year – more on this topic in the next blog post.
  • Completely clean burn
  • Can run on any fuel – from solar concentrator, solid biomass, garbage, pellets, algae fuel, or high-grade distilled fuels like diesel or gasoline

Listen to our interview with Harry:

Cyclone Technologies from Marcin Jakubowski on Vimeo.

For us, this is absolutely exciting. Will and I were hovering constantly around his engine to absorb its innovation. We think that this engine may be the next 100 years of propulsion, just as the ICE has been for the last 100. At the very least, we’re convinced that steam power will yield significant liberatory potential with off-grid electricity generation (such as with our steam electric generator), and for localizing fuel and transportation systems (such as when solid fuel pellets are used as a high-quality fuel stock in cars). We’ll leave it at this, as our highly-biased perspective on this topic may lead the reader to confusion – so we invite you to look into this more yourself.

Just imagine if everyone in the suburbs mowed their lawns for fuel crop, as opposed to vanity. I guess mower-pelletizer combines will be added to our product line soon.

Here is another engine from Cyclone Technologies, the Waste Heat Engine. Here it is running on steam during the SACA meet, and water is the lubricant. This engine is designed for a maximum of 10 kW electrical generation if used as a generator:

Waste Heat Engine by Cyclone Technologies from Marcin Jakubowski on Vimeo.


  1. Abe

    That is interesting technology, but it seems pretty complicated. Is it something that could be replicated in a backyard or small community shop?

    It also seems that to get his type of efficiency you need super hot steam (read dangerous for backyard, and hard to accomplish with solar) and high rpm. Am I correct in that assumption?

    From what I can tell, complicated=expensive and difficult to repair.

    His engine is impressive, but it appears to be a hotrod-type engine, not necessarily a practical one. It would be nice to get some more information on this as far as being easy to replicate in a developing community situation.

    I usually hear the disadvantages of steam from steam enthusiasts, so I don’t think there is really an anti-steam conspiracy.

    Modern steam seems to be most efficient in large applications with teams of monitors, computer controls, and enormous amounts of heat. The trick will be to see if that scales down to the 10kW range. Anyone can buy a 10kW ICE generator for under $1,500 these days (much less if used) and for another $500 you could outfit it with a real nice biomass gasifier. The efficiency isn’t great (20%, maybe), but it is doable with off the shelf parts in most communities (no need for lathe, machine shop). And you could run a vehicle with a similar setup.

    I personally feel that making a fuel is a better long term development goal than trying to reinvent an engine. There are literally billions of ICE engines in existence, and it would be best to use what is cheap and available. It’s definitely not as glamorous as developing everything yourself, but it saves you several months, if not year, in reinventing the wheel.

  2. MGPalmer

    This is really an exciting technology, and your enthusiasm is quite catching 🙂

    However, I’m wondering whether this particular engine will work together with the open source vision of OSE – Cyclone Tech, I assume, is a for-profit company. Will they be applying and holding patents on this engine ?

    1. Marcin

      Cyclone Tech has little to do with open source, since it holds numerous patents on its engines. However, wait 17 years and all that will enter the public domain when the patents expire. Plus, it should be emphasized that if open innovation were a common practice, there would be numerous similar or better engines developed. So to us, Cyclone is simply a light of inspiration.

  3. Marcin

    Abe, building the world’s most advanced engine is probably not the task for an average backyard hacker today. It may be some time in the future. The point of this post is to merely open up peoples’ minds to the potential.

    On supercritical steam – it is not that difficult to generate. For example, you can gather from this flame temperature table that farts burn way hotter than supercritical, and steel tubing holds pressures in excess of 15,000 psi.

  4. Abe

    Marcin, I agree, building the most advanced engine is not a task for backyard builders.

    Backyard builders don’t need the most advanced engine in the world. I would say that we need simplicity, durability, safety, low cost, and easy of use over efficiency and “advanced-ness”.

    Steam is definitely an option worth considering, no doubt. But, I also think that there are other options that may prove to be a better solution.

    Our backyard approach is to go with the most tested, most available technology with the best price tag. I also don’t like having to hang around an engine all day. I prefer to be doing other stuff.

    For those reasons, and many more, steam is not a good fit for us. Our current choice is biomass to ethanol in widely available ICEs. I expect that we will have our yearly transportation fuel supply fully developed within a year for under $3,000 setup. We already grow the feedstock (prickly pear and mesquite trees), so now we will be using it.

    But our setup will not be for everyone, either. Each situation requires a different approach. I am interested to see how far you guys get with the steam development.

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Open Source Ecology, FSCONS. FSCONS said: Live: Cyclone Technologies: Modern steam power is here. We met Harry Schoell – lead technical developer from Cyclo… […]

  6. jim moore

    Have you ever thought about using powdered biomass rather than pellets? The big advantage would be the powder would burn more like a liquid or gas. In the sense that you can turn the burn on or off very quickly, unlike pellets,

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Keith Johnson, Open Source Ecology. Open Source Ecology said: Blog Comment on Cyclone Technologies by MGPalmer […]

  8. stu
    1. Marcin

      Read more about the issues with the Green steam engine technology from our last year’s report at

  9. Max Kennedy

    The cyclone is a great concept but as said probably a bit beyond DIY efforts. Have been seeing it for about 3 years in various forums but there has never been a”how to get one” nor a “how much will it be”. The Green Machine is obviously a bit of a toy. However looking back on the blog there was an “off the shelf parts” engine it would be great to have more info on. Could a “how to” be created or directions to such be available.

  10. Mark Goodson

    Steam is ideal for a small cogenerating power plant. It’s quiet, clean, and multi-fuel. But consider also that steam is an excellent medium for transferring heat. When this vast latent heat is put to full use for such things as water distillation, space heating, water heating, and adsorption air conditioning, then the net efficiency and economy of such a system could be staggering.

  11. Land Steam Record | Factor E Farm Blog

    […] is teaming up with Cyclone Technologies, discussed in the last post, who will provide the lightweight, high performance steam engine for the project. Here is a picture […]

  12. […] The next larger step in the evolution of the Power Cube is to incorporate our implementation of the modern steam engine, as opposed to a gasoline engine. The advantage is that we could then use home-grown pelletized […]

  13. Sepp Hasslberger

    Marcin, others,

    I just ran across the Quasiturbine, a simple steam engine that can be run by relatively low pressure steam, probably achievable with a concentrating solar backyard array.

    Check it out here:

    and see a version that has been combined with a generator here:

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