Weekend Project: Fire Piston

Education Science
Weekend Project: Fire Piston

Make your own fire starter that uses compressed air and burns at 500 degrees!

Weekend Project: Fire Piston


Make your own fire starter that uses compressed air and burns at 500 degrees!
Thanks to Bill Gurstelle for showing us this at Maker Faire.
To download The Fire Piston MP4 click here or subscribe in iTunes.
Pick up your own Fire Piston Kit in the Maker Shed.

8 thoughts on “Weekend Project: Fire Piston

  1. Orpheline says:

    I thought compressing air generated heat because it increases the friction of the air molecules ‘gainst one another; is that not so?

    1. trevyn says:

      Friction in the air molecules may be part of the reason for the heating. The other reason is that a given volume of gas has a certain amount of heat energy in it (related to the temperature), and if the gas is compressed the same amount of energy is pushed into a smaller volume, resulting in a higher temperature. Refrigeration operates (more or less) on this principle.

      Given the speed with which the air is compressed, it’s hard to say to what degree each effect contributes to heating the air without figuring out some numbers and doing some calculations (for which I lack the necessary thermodynamics knowledge).

      As a side note, both effects would take place no matter how fast the air was compressed, but in this case it has to be compressed as quickly as possible because it’s always losing heat to the outside environment (the system is not adiabatic).

  2. chris says:

    Kip Kay is the Billy Mays of Make.

  3. vivi says:

    500 degrees (°C ? °F ? °K ?) seems a lot for a plastic tube … Is it one shot ?

    Kip Kay seems totally unimpressed by the fact that Rudolf Diesel was inspired by a Malaysian fire making technique, but I think it’s totally awesome !

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