Stirling Engines Information
Stirling engines produce mechanical power through cyclical compression and expansion of compressible fluids, such as air and gases, by interaction with a heat source. Stirling engines can utilize heat from many sources, including burning gas, coal, wood, waste heat from cooling plants, and concentrated solar heat.
Stirling engines work based on a temperature differential between two points. They convert this temperature difference into physical motion that can be rotary or linear in nature. In the case of linear motion it creates a vibration that can manifest as physical movement or as waves in a medium.
Stirling engines work on the principle of moving regions of hot and cold, which in turn creates areas of low and high pressure due to the expansion and contraction of gasses. Changes in pressure cause a piston to move in response. Stirling engines can utilize the heat from many sources of energy to achieve a temperature differential.
These engines work as a closed system, as opposed to a steam or internal combustion engine, as the gasses inside a stirling engine are not drawn in and exhausted like the other two. This also makes the engine more efficient than other engine designs. Stirling engines can be designed to run on small or large differentials, however engines that run on small differentials are less efficient.
Many variations on the design of stirling engines have been made since their original inception in 1816; some utilize different piston configurations, springs, and even acoustics. Stirling engines can also be designed to work in reverse to turn physical motion into a temperature differential to be used for cooling.
Despite being an old technology Stirling engines have found modern uses, from solar energy to more efficient heating systems, and has also been proposed to be used on future spacecraft. Their versatility and efficiency make them a possible solution for an increasingly energy-hungry world.