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What I Did For 17 Days In Late May

1247 words - 5 pages

The Stirling engine, is a engine that uses heat displacement and cooling to drive a piston that drives a flywheel. Very similar concept to a steam engine just a different power source.
The Stirling engine was first, “invented and patented by Robert Stirling in 1816,(1). It followed earlier attempts at making an air engine but was probably the first to be put to practical use when in 1818 an engine built by Stirling was employed pumping water in a quarry,” (2). Unfortunately, the Stirling engine never made into full-scale production, nor into the race for alternative power. This was mainly because the “failure of the Dundee foundry engine,” (3), which would have brought the same power source and concept but on an industrial scale. Robert Stirling and his brother James, never continued to develop or further themselves in the involvement of air engines again. Once they gave up, the Stirling engine fell by the wayside and was soon no longer a match for the industrial scale power source of steam. As steam became more efficient, the death of the Stirling engine was thought to be inevitable. However, interest in this engine renewed when in “1860 smaller engines of the Stirling/hot air type were produced in rather substantial numbers as they were found to be an excellent and reliable source of energy wherever a low to medium power source was required, such as raising water or providing air for church organs” (4). The sudden resurgence in production of Stirling engines made the future for steam look bright at last. Alas, the Stirling engine found its final resting place with the Invention of the electric motor and small internal combustion engines, at the beginning of the twentieth century. Finally, “by the late 1930s, it was largely forgotten, and only produced for toys and a few small ventilating fans,” (5). This was too bad because the stirling engine was a great way to make efficient power.
The very unique thing about Stirling engines is that, “the heat source may be provided by the combustion of a fuel and, since the combustion products do not mix with the working fluid and hence do not come into contact with the internal parts of the engine, a Stirling engine can run on fuels that would damage other types of engines' internals, such as landfill gas which contains siloxane,”(6). With the growing problems in today society about finding sustainable fuels, the Stirling engine offers a safe and renewable way to create power from resources that would otherwise go to waste. So, if the heat itself powers the engine, the heat source can be anything from solid, liquid, or even gas. “Other suitable heat sources include concentrated solar energy, geothermal energy, nuclear energy, waste heat and bio-energy. If solar power is used as a heat source, regular solar mirrors and solar dishes may be utilized. The use of Fresnel lenses and mirrors has also been advocated, for example in planetary surface exploration,” (6). There are many great alternatives and...

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