It's amazing how efficient we can make engines.
This is a very low temperature hot air engine that helps inspire the clean energy imagination.
A Stirling engine is a heat engine that is operated by a cyclic compression and expansion of air or other gas (the working fluid) at different temperatures, such that there is a net conversion of heat energy to mechanical work. More specifically, the Stirling engine is a closed-cycle regenerative heat engine with a permanently gaseous working fluid. Closed-cycle, in this context, means a thermodynamic system in which the working fluid is permanently contained within the system, and regenerative describes the use of a specific type of internal heat exchanger and thermal store, known as the regenerator. Strictly speaking, the inclusion of the regenerator is what differentiates a Stirling engine from other closed cycle hot air engines.
Originally conceived in 1816 as an industrial prime mover to rival the steam engine, its practical use was largely confined to low-power domestic applications for over a century.
He has been later followed by Cayley. This engine type was of those in which the fire is enclosed, and fed by air pumped in beneath the grate in sufficient quantity to maintain combustion, while by far the largest portion of the air enters above the fire, to be heated and expanded; the whole, together with the products of combustion, then acts on the piston, and passes through the working cylinder; and the operation being one of simple mixture only, no heating surface of metal is required, the air to be heated being brought into immediate contact with the fire.
Stirling came up with a first air engine in 1816 and made many variations of the engine afterwards.
Alpha-type Stirling engine. There are two cylinders. The expansion cylinder (red) is maintained at a high temperature while the compression cylinder (blue) is cooled. The passage between the two cylinders contains the regenerator.
Beta-type Stirling engine. There is only one cylinder, hot at one end and cold at the other. A loose-fitting displacer shunts the air between the hot and cold ends of the cylinder. A power piston at the open end of the cylinder drives the flywheel.
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