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Sterling engines

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  • Sterling engines

    I have seen a lot of posting in here on these engines. Can you run a generator off of one of these? Say using the sun magnified? Most of the sites I have seen on the web show these little toy ones that don't look like they would do much. What do the bigger ones work like? I would like to try and build one. Anyone have any links or books they could recomend? I am a young'n that is why I have not heard of these much.

  • #2
    It's hard to get much oomph out of an atmosphereic-pressure Stirling engine. To get power, you really need to pressurize the thing so the working fluid (i.e, the air, or whatever gas you use) has some density to it. And that means REALLY good seals.

    I really don't know much about them though.
    Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
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    There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
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    • #3
      Start here:

      Power producing stirling engines are scarcer than hens teeth. There is currently no one actually selling one that doesn't require a military budget. Even building one yourself will require thousands to invest.

      [This message has been edited by Evan (edited 05-03-2005).]
      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


      • #4
        Have you tried a google on Stirling engine sometimes mispelled as Sterling. Google on automotive Stirling engine produced a bunch of hits on larger ones. Getting real power out of one would take some development. Generators require a large percentage of an engine's power and with a conversion ratio on the order of 200-400 watts electrical output per mechanical horsepower of input (YMMV) you need to look at what the car people are doing for practical sized engines. Steve


        • #5
          The highest "horsepower" Stirling engine I've ever seen is Jim Symanski's Jim Dandy #6. You can see it, here.

          Scroll halfway down the page.

          This was a pressurized engine. I believe there is one picture in my series that shows the gauge.

          BTW, since these pictures were taken, Jim has sold this marvel of engineering.

          Best regards,

          So many projects. So little time.


          • #6
            I've build a model Stirling engine and it runs fine. The project was a lot of fun and watching the engine run is highly satifying.

            Building a practical Sterling engine for even small power production is another beast altogether. Such a project is probably out of the range of skill and budget for a home shop guy.

            In order to get decent efficiency from a Sterling engine high temperatures and pressures must be used inside the engine. These are typically around 2000F and 3000lbs/sqin, both values well in excess of typical machinery levels. To contain these temperatures and pressures requires fairly exotic materials and precise construction techniques. Definitely and advanced project.

            A better alternative may be to get a regular gas generator rig and run it with "producer gas". Producer gas is created by heating wood chips or other orgainic material which decomposes and emits flamable gases that can be burned in a gas engine. See for some books on the subject.


            • #7
              From what I have seen they made many years ago large bore stirling engines that actually produced useable power.

              But they were only used when large amounts of waste heat were availible.

              I like the one that runs off coffee cup heat.Otherwise I don't see the attraction.
              I just need one more tool,just one!


              • #8
                There are universities that experiment with Stirling engines operating off the sun...I have heard there was one around that was making over 1KW of power...But size is the drawback...While they are the most efficient engine there is the size vrs power output is massive compared to say a diesel engine...

                I also read on the net somewhere that it is Stirling engines that make the extremely cold conditions needed in laboritories like Fermilab ans such.....They run the stirling engines in reverse...Power in and the cold end gets very very very cold(like 4 degrees kelvin).

                [This message has been edited by Ringer (edited 05-03-2005).]
                Precision takes time.


                • #9
                  Here is an outfit that is making a good effort at using a solar concentrator on a stirling generator to produce power.




                  • #10
                    More on Stirling Engines:

                    I don't think Stirling Engines are just toys any more....

                    Animations (NASA)
                    Searching around the NASA site you find they developed a 25kw unit...

                    An interesting (toy) design:


                    • #11
                      I have a sun runner with a parabolic reflector. It can turn a small generator, such as the one sold by Cole's {pwer Models. It is possible to light a sealed beam lantern bulb direct or to charge a small wet battery of 6 volts or so and use the charge to light a bult at night.
                      The most practical use to date is a liquid piston Stirling engine (which has no top or bottom dead center and will start without a spin) to open solar panels that heat up a hot wall; the heat is released at night when it cools down outside.
                      The available castings are for small engines to demonstrate the principle only.
                      However, the fan, which is available commercially, is a practical device, as is the water pumping engine.
                      I use a fireplace stove for heat at times, and a small hole into the firebox accepts the hot cap of the sun runner. The power source being free, I can charge up a wet battery during the day to power a small night light when the sun goes down, so I always have light to see when I stoke the fireplace stove.
                      The advantage of the liquid piston stirling engine is that the hydraulic principle of a small piston powering a larger piston can be used.
                      Today we carve our own omens Leonidas at Thermopylae


                      • #12
                        whatever they are today, they sure didn't start as toys. while less efficient than steam, they we easier to operate and did not have the danger, expense and maintenance of a boiler. here's an restore full size Rider Ericsson, and a bad photo of one i made. The model works well and looks better than the photo, imo


                        [This message has been edited by Mcgyver (edited 09-11-2005).]


                        • #13
                          Here's a link to a commercial power generating sterling


                          They make about 8 kw of water heating and about 1.2kw of power. Dosent sound like mutch but if 1000 homes had them for water ther would be around 1.2MW of power going back into the grid. How does your home heat water?

                          [This message has been edited by Stanko (edited 09-12-2005).]