It may be down to the ability to vapourise the oil efficiently, and someone may chose to correct me but I don’t believe WVO vapourises as well as “28 second” central heating oil. I tried running a primus stove on olive oil once, and it was definitely a vapourisation problem which defeated me that time. The Babington burner effectively atomises the oil into tiny droplets using an air jet. The fine oil spray mist is extremely flammable and burns with intense whitish orange flame. Since the Babington burner uses the whale blow-hole principle to atomis the oil into a spray – I wonder if its possible to change the geometry and have a system which produced a vertical jet of air – and sprays oil upwards from out of a cup of oil. Just like a whale surfacing, and blowing its spout. This might be more useful as a retrofit to oil or solid fuel fires, stoves and furnaces, with the flames emerging upwards rather than horizontally. The cup could be about the size of a drinking mug and at the centre a hemisphere drilled with the air jet. A fuel pump would fill the cup with oil so that it just lapped over the top of the ball- to a depth of perhaps 1/16″. An overflow pipe would allow any excess oil to flow back to the pump. Might just be building a “Whale” Oil Burner this weekend.

Bad idea, what’s to stop the flame from dripping and igniting your cup of oil.  Better idea would be to just let the flame curve upwards, (It’s going to anyhow) and wash over the “Bottom” of whatever you’re heating. 

Whale oil burner might just work. But I suspect that you might get some unwanted big drops too when she blows. Even the way I have it now, things are not perfect. Babington had a hell of a lot more money and time than I did when he developed this thing. In his burner I think the jet does point straight up, but I’d have to check the patent drawings, etc. He pumped the oil from the side and it went up over the top of the ball if I’m not mistaken. He may also have allowed the mist to “accumulate” and then may have drawn it up into a “combustion chamber” where it burned freely. Been too many years. Definitely more work could be done on the subject.

Can the Babington burner’s BTU output be raised by drilling more holes in the sphere and using more air pressure to maintain proper vaporization of the oil? I want to build a multi-fuel(biomass and waste oil) fired boiler/steam turbine plant that will supply all the power(hot water and hydronic heating, icy ball cooling, electricity, and biodiesel cooking) for a 8-plex apartment building and 10,000 sq. ft. of greenhouse. I am trying to get a grant to build a home for handicapped folks and my description of the power plant that I envision (through dense fog) is quite lacking compared to my the greenhouse and apartment plans, that I am constantly mulling over.

Was reading this as I am intending to make a vertical boiler using the Babington principle when I was struck by Jim’s comment below about letting the heat wash over the bottom of whatever your heating. Was wondering how much more efficient and effective it would be to use a total of 3 tubes for the boiler. Tubes 1 and 2 forming the Outside and Inside of the main boiler  and tube 3 forming a separate boiler in the centre of the flue with a closed in bottom. Rather than loosing the heat in the centre of the flue which would largely pass straight up the flue you would then have a flue which was a tube within a tube and the combusted fuel would be mostly in contact with one surface or the other virtually all the way up thus allowing better overall conduction. I see this inner central boiler being connected to the outer main boiler but it could also possibly be used as a separate boiler for perhaps heating the oil thus allowing virtually total and complete combustion. Perhaps it could act as the feed container and dribble the oil onto the ball. Obviously in this case it would not want to get too hot or you would perhaps have trouble pumping the oil from the bottom to the top of the tank. By having a ring of holes you would tend to have a ring of fire rather than a jet. Any comments?