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[at-l] Alcohol Lantern Design Theory

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Vic writes in part:

>Ahh, a man after my own heart! Of course there is one distinction I must
make here.....the PRICE should be cheap.....WE are NOT cheap, we >are

Amen! Amen! Right on, Brother!

After sending my last post I was fixing to go to bed but this poor light
problem kept bugging me. So, I says to me, I says, "Hopeful, old son. It
ain't bed time yet." And with those words right off my lips, I head back
to the garage. Mrs Hopeful groaned something as I went out the door, so I
turned around and ask her if she had said I was cheap again. "No," she
says to me, she says, "I said you're nuts."

Where was I? Oh, the lantern. I experimented with two more wick
configuration but with no more success than with the first. Whereupon, I
put the original lid and wick back on the little lantern. Next, I
replaced the denatured alcohol with some Walmart, pine scented lamp oil.
Mrs Hopeful has an oil lamp on our back porch that she uses to add a
homey ambulance. Maybe that's ambience.........whatever. The improved
brilliance of the oil flame convinced me that the problem is in the
nature of the fuel and not the mechanics of the lantern.

I had noticed in my wick experiments, with about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of the
wick exposed, the alcohol produced a large but dull yellow-orange flame.
With slight increases in the length of exposed wick, the flame rapidly
changed from dull yellow-orange to blue. I assume that the increase in
available oxygen allowed the alcohol to burn more efficiently. What every
the case, human eyes are not particularly efficient in light environments
where just one part of the visible spectrum is present. Even the most
brilliant blue flame still appears to be dim.

My conclusion is that the physical properties of alcohol are such that it
is great for making heat but not light. There are certain ceramic
materials that when heated produce full spectrum light. The problem with
these is that they become very brittle and tend to crumble if disturbed.
This means they are almost one shot deals. Using a ceramic in conjunction
with the alcohol flame could produce a bright light but there goes the
low operating cost. Oh well, it's some thing to think about.

Can a cheap and stable ceramic be found? Can Hopeful's LED produce a
homey ambulance? Will Mrs Hopeful sell the garage? Tune in next week for
another exciting episode of Hopeful And His Trusty Drillpress.

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