The problem to solve is this: I want to create a heat generator [or heat absorber] that functions at atmospheric pressure to the pressure at the bottom of the sea. It will be used to drive a Stirling engine.

As such, I'm worried that a simple burner with adjustable flow rates won't act predictably at extreme pressures.


  • 1 atm - 1000 atm ambient pressure
  • I can maintain a constant differential pressure between fuel/oxidizer bottles and the reactor
  • 1 kW output power (small in scale)
  • Nitrous oxide/hydrocarbon (probably propane) constituents [edit: not set in stone]

Will the combustion chemistry work out? Is the reaction so fast that stable combustion is impossible at low flow rates?

I am also reading up on supercritical hydrothermal combustion as an alternate solution. I have contemplated using liquid nitrogen as a heat absorber, but it is appx 1/100 mass-efficient in terms of energy input/output. Alternate solutions that avoid the problem entirely are also welcome. <3

  • $\begingroup$ Pu238 would work well at any pressure (short of being at the center of shaped charges), and would not need to be refueled frequently, but it would be difficult to get... not even NASA has a steady supply. $\endgroup$ – DrMoishe Pippik Jul 3 at 22:29
  • $\begingroup$ Haha! That may get some eyes on my pet project that I'd rather not attract... That would be an excellent solution, however ;) $\endgroup$ – Zack Darpinian Jul 3 at 22:49

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