The BBC profiles Glynne Bowsher, chief designer, and the British Steam Car Challenge team in their quest to break the steam-car speed record with their vehicle, Inspiration. The extant record was set in 1906 by a Stanley Steamer that reached 127.659 mph.
He knows engine and vehicle design like old friends, having worked on Richard Noble’s record-breaking Thrust 2 jet car and having designed ThrustSSC, the first vehicle to break the sound barrier on land.
His team, the British Steam Car Challenge (BSCC), is hoping that its Inspiration vehicle will live up to its name and not only break a long-standing steam-car speed record, but also inspire thinking about alternative fuels for the future.
Motive power comes from a two-stage steam turbine fed by four independent boilers fired by LPG. The 13-inch diameter turbine produces 225 kW of power at 12,000 rpm, and drives an epicyclical gear train with a 4:1 ratio for a wheel speed of 3,000 rpm at 200 mph.
Each boiler section is being designed to produce steam at 500 psi and 725° F with a mass flow rate of 625 lb/hr. The LPG is fed into the boilers at a relatively low pressure—a little over 2 bar (29 psi).
Resources: British Steam Car Challenge