Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

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The British Steam Car Challenge - 23 Cups Per Second

steam car

Reality is often far stranger than fiction. A case in point: the British Steam Car project, an effort to surpass Fred Marriott's 1906 speed record of 121.573 mph set in the unbelievably quaint Stanley Steamer Rocket.

The British steam car takes advantage of modern technology, and is clearly built for speed at the expense of economy and common sense. It burns liquefied petrolium gas, generating 3 megawatts of power to create a head of superheated steam that drives a dual-stage turbine running at 13,000 rpm and putting out 360 hp. That's enough thermal energy to boil 23 cups of tea per second, should you be so inclined.

Come to think of it, the propulsion system has more in common with a nuclear powered ship than a traditional automobile.

Steamcar

All this technology comes at a price: the beast weighs a monstrous three tons and measures slightly more than 25 feet long. It carries 60 liters of LPG to heat 140 liters of water - sufficient for a mere 3.5 minutes. There's no attempt to condense the steam to improve thermal efficiency. This vehicle is all about brute force and speed; the turbine simply blasts a massive cloud of insanely hot water vapor out of the rear end. It's as if the designers were trying to evoke a Flash Gordon-era space vehicle.

The team had intended to try a record attempt this year, but recently reported, "Sadly, we have missed the shipping date for reaching the Bonneville Salt Flats this year, but are continuing with our UK testing program. We are looking for alternative venues where we can make a World record attempt, but in the mean time, the next goal is to get the car running independently of the support rigs."

While the BSC team's target speed of 170 mph is well short of Andy Green's current jet-powered 766.609 mph record, the British Steam Car running all-out on the Salt Flats is sure to be a sight to remember. Oh, and need I point out that the car is painted a glorious shade of British Racing Green?

The British Steam Car Challenge [via Wired]

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