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'[OT:] Stirling engines'
2004\01\28@022319 by Russell McMahon

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A response I wrote for another list that may be of passing interest here:
Subject was whether existing internal combustion engines could readily be
replaced by alternatives.
_______________


> Turbines are far simpler, lighter per horsepower, and vastly more
> reliable - but they do so at the cost of less thermal efficiency.
> Reciprocating engines, at least to my limited knowledge, wring more
> mechanical energy from every BTU than just about anything else out
> there. I suspect, though I do not know this to be the case, that a
> small turbine driving a generator and charging a large capacitor bank
> could drive an AC induction motor for a system that *might* do better
> than an all-mechanical drive train connected to a piston engine.

Best of all, theoretically, is the "external combustion" Stirling engine
which runs on the Carnot cycle, unlike standard internal combustion engines
which use the theoretically non-ideal Otto Cycle. An ideal Carnot cycle
engine is as efficient as can be achieved thermodynamically. However, a very
good xxx cycle engine can of course be more efficient than a bad Stirling
engine. Modern diesel engines do a very good job of making an inferior
thermodynamic cycle look quite good. In practice, practical compact and
power-dense Stirling engines have, so far, proved too hard to implement
economically except in niche applications where cost is secondary. The main
barriers are the extremely high sealing pressures and high temperatures
which the engine needs to run at. Ideally a Stirling engine would use
Hydrogen as the working gas but as this has the bad habit of diffusing out
through the engine castings and leaking out through everywhere else at the
temperatures and pressures involved, people usually compromise and use
Helium, which is good but not as good as Hydrogen. Starting soon after WW2
Philips spent many tens of millions of dollars trying to commercialise this
technology. They built vehicular demonstrators in conjunction with various
automotive people including a van with Ford and a bus with ??AEG??. All
attempts proved to have insurmountable problems with sealing. Along the  way
they did produce a very successful line of Stirling cryocoolers. This
business was sold off when they rationalised their activities a decade or
two ago.

AFAIR Philips estimated that IF/ONCE the problems were solved that the
payback time for the investment based on world petroleum savings would be
about 4 months !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-). However, they also placed a rather
large figure  on the estimated cost of getting it right ($14 billion comes
to mind but it was basically "heaps".) So far nobody has seriously risen to
the challenge of multiplying their money several times over every year.

A NZ designed & modestly successful Stirling combined-cycle heat and power
system is selling internationally. Known as the "Whispergen" it produces
approaching 1 kW of electricity and about ?4 kW of heat and is targeted at
small off-grid applications. The price ($10,000 or so?) makes it
unattractive financially compared to grid power where it is readily
available. I believe the Swedes make/made a Stirling powered submarine run
from heat of crystallisation from a thermal store. The major advantage is
presumably very low noise operation. Various military applications exist. A
niche market exists for free piston solar Stirling engines and various
people have made 10 kW plus solar engines using large dish concentrators and
typically liquid sodium as the heat transfer fluid.



       Russell McMahon

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2004\01\28@022319 by Russell McMahon

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A response I wrote for another list that may be of passing interest here:
Subject was whether existing internal combustion engines could readily be
replaced by alternatives.
_______________


> Turbines are far simpler, lighter per horsepower, and vastly more
> reliable - but they do so at the cost of less thermal efficiency.
> Reciprocating engines, at least to my limited knowledge, wring more
> mechanical energy from every BTU than just about anything else out
> there. I suspect, though I do not know this to be the case, that a
> small turbine driving a generator and charging a large capacitor bank
> could drive an AC induction motor for a system that *might* do better
> than an all-mechanical drive train connected to a piston engine.

Best of all, theoretically, is the "external combustion" Stirling engine
which runs on the Carnot cycle, unlike standard internal combustion engines
which use the theoretically non-ideal Otto Cycle. An ideal Carnot cycle
engine is as efficient as can be achieved thermodynamically. However, a very
good xxx cycle engine can of course be more efficient than a bad Stirling
engine. Modern diesel engines do a very good job of making an inferior
thermodynamic cycle look quite good. In practice, practical compact and
power-dense Stirling engines have, so far, proved too hard to implement
economically except in niche applications where cost is secondary. The main
barriers are the extremely high sealing pressures and high temperatures
which the engine needs to run at. Ideally a Stirling engine would use
Hydrogen as the working gas but as this has the bad habit of diffusing out
through the engine castings and leaking out through everywhere else at the
temperatures and pressures involved, people usually compromise and use
Helium, which is good but not as good as Hydrogen. Starting soon after WW2
Philips spent many tens of millions of dollars trying to commercialise this
technology. They built vehicular demonstrators in conjunction with various
automotive people including a van with Ford and a bus with ??AEG??. All
attempts proved to have insurmountable problems with sealing. Along the  way
they did produce a very successful line of Stirling cryocoolers. This
business was sold off when they rationalised their activities a decade or
two ago.

AFAIR Philips estimated that IF/ONCE the problems were solved that the
payback time for the investment based on world petroleum savings would be
about 4 months !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-). However, they also placed a rather
large figure  on the estimated cost of getting it right ($14 billion comes
to mind but it was basically "heaps".) So far nobody has seriously risen to
the challenge of multiplying their money several times over every year.

A NZ designed & modestly successful Stirling combined-cycle heat and power
system is selling internationally. Known as the "Whispergen" it produces
approaching 1 kW of electricity and about ?4 kW of heat and is targeted at
small off-grid applications. The price ($10,000 or so?) makes it
unattractive financially compared to grid power where it is readily
available. I believe the Swedes make/made a Stirling powered submarine run
from heat of crystallisation from a thermal store. The major advantage is
presumably very low noise operation. Various military applications exist. A
niche market exists for free piston solar Stirling engines and various
people have made 10 kW plus solar engines using large dish concentrators and
typically liquid sodium as the heat transfer fluid.



       Russell McMahon

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2004\01\28@024356 by Hopkins

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Like the last part ...........


> A
> niche market exists for free piston solar Stirling engines and various
> people have made 10 kW plus solar engines using large dish concentrators
and
> typically liquid sodium as the heat transfer fluid.
>
Would like more detail on this idea.

*************************************************

Roy Hopkins

spam_OUTrdhopkinsTakeThisOuTspamihug.co.nz

*************************************************



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2004\01\28@024356 by Hopkins

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Like the last part ...........


> A
> niche market exists for free piston solar Stirling engines and various
> people have made 10 kW plus solar engines using large dish concentrators
and
> typically liquid sodium as the heat transfer fluid.
>
Would like more detail on this idea.

*************************************************

Roy Hopkins

.....rdhopkinsKILLspamspam@spam@ihug.co.nz

*************************************************



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2004\01\28@025225 by Russell McMahon
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> Like the last part ...........
>
>
> > A
> > niche market exists for free piston solar Stirling engines and various
> > people have made 10 kW plus solar engines using large dish concentrators
> and
> > typically liquid sodium as the heat transfer fluid.
> >
> Would like more detail on this idea.

Start here -

       http://www.sunpower.com/


       RM

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2004\01\28@025225 by Russell McMahon

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> Like the last part ...........
>
>
> > A
> > niche market exists for free piston solar Stirling engines and various
> > people have made 10 kW plus solar engines using large dish concentrators
> and
> > typically liquid sodium as the heat transfer fluid.
> >
> Would like more detail on this idea.

Start here -

       http://www.sunpower.com/


       RM

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2004\01\28@051432 by Sten Dahlgren

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Russell McMahon wrote:

<snip>

> available. I believe the Swedes make/made a Stirling powered submarine run


a little more info and a picture is available here <http://www.kockums.se>

click "products" and then "kockums sterling" (seriously stupid layout of
these pages :-(

{Quote hidden}

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2004\01\28@051432 by Sten Dahlgren

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Russell McMahon wrote:

<snip>

> available. I believe the Swedes make/made a Stirling powered submarine run


a little more info and a picture is available here <http://www.kockums.se>

click "products" and then "kockums sterling" (seriously stupid layout of
these pages :-(

{Quote hidden}

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2004\01\28@094249 by Mike Hord

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>AFAIR Philips estimated that IF/ONCE the problems were solved that the
>payback time for the investment based on world petroleum savings would be
>about 4 months !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-). However, they also placed a rather
>large figure  on the estimated cost of getting it right ($14 billion comes
>to mind but it was basically "heaps".) So far nobody has seriously risen to
>the challenge of multiplying their money several times over every year.

I've seen interviews with Dean Kamen (Mr. Segway) where he suggests
that he's seriously pursuing Stirling engine technology.  Or rather, he's
putting engineers up to it.  I don't know what he's going to do with
it, but there it is.

Of course, he doesn't have that kind of money, and his Segway of course
isn't the model of an ideal product.

Mike H.

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2004\01\28@094249 by Mike Hord

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>AFAIR Philips estimated that IF/ONCE the problems were solved that the
>payback time for the investment based on world petroleum savings would be
>about 4 months !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-). However, they also placed a rather
>large figure  on the estimated cost of getting it right ($14 billion comes
>to mind but it was basically "heaps".) So far nobody has seriously risen to
>the challenge of multiplying their money several times over every year.

I've seen interviews with Dean Kamen (Mr. Segway) where he suggests
that he's seriously pursuing Stirling engine technology.  Or rather, he's
putting engineers up to it.  I don't know what he's going to do with
it, but there it is.

Of course, he doesn't have that kind of money, and his Segway of course
isn't the model of an ideal product.

Mike H.

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Olin,

> This isn't what you wanted to hear, but frankly, if you've been coding
for > a while and you haven't already developed your own idea of how to
do it
> carefully and right you never will

I don't entirely agree; anyone who can code, can learn to code better,
especially if they happen to be receptive to new ideas, techniques etc,
as the originator of this thread obviously is. I hear what you are
saying about the obvious no-hopers, the ones who blame the hardware for
there own coding errors, but I don't see any evidence that this chap
falls into the 'no-hoper' category!

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2004\01\28@230210 by James Newton, Host

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source= http://www.piclist.com/piclist/2004/01/28/094249a.txt?



Mike Hord  says:
> I've seen interviews with Dean Kamen (Mr. Segway) where he
> suggests that he's seriously pursuing Stirling engine
> technology.  Or rather, he's putting engineers up to it.  I
> don't know what he's going to do with it, but there it is.
>
> Of course, he doesn't have that kind of money, and his
> Segway of course isn't the model of an ideal product.

Ok... Lets not start a holy war over Mr Kamen... I've run into a number of
people who seem to think he is the ULTIMATE engineer, and while he sure has
come up with some nice stuff and has overcome the odds to do it, I think
everyone has some good and bad.

If you want a good laugh on the subject of alternative heat engines, check
out my little fantasy at
http://techref.massmind.org/techref/idea/mc-heat-inject.htm


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2004\01\29@061454 by Howard Winter

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James,

On Wed, 28 Jan 2004 20:01:32 -0800, James Newton, Host
wrote:

> If you want a good laugh on the subject of alternative
heat engines, check
> out my little fantasy at
>
techref.massmind.org/techref/idea/mc-heat-inject.
htm

Just a minor technical point:  if you "snap off the
intake valve stem" it will fall open!  The valve is held
shut by the spring pushing upwards (on an OVH engine) by
the spring.  Best to remove the pushrod or rocker arm,
if it's a side-camshaft, or as you also say grind away
the cam if it's OHC.

It would also benefit from having the exhaust valve open
twice as often, making it 2-stroke, and stay open until
close to TDC, otherwise the compression stroke is a
total waste of energy and would probably stop it
working.  Using a 2-stroke engine in the first place
would solve most of the above, of course, but you'd
probably have to modify the ports, or use one that had
active (such as disc-) valves.

I'd like to try it just for a laugh (I have a spare
Triumph Tiger-Cub engine) but sadly the amount of energy
from the Sun here is rather a lot less than where you
are!

Cheers,

Howard Winter
St.Albans, England (currently snow-covered)

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2004\01\29@082218 by Alan B. Pearce

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>If you want a good laugh on the subject of alternative heat
>engines, check out my little fantasy at
>http://techref.massmind.org/techref/idea/mc-heat-inject.htm

Hmm, now pick up an old car alternator, use it to charge the battery float
that keeps the house running, Hmm solar power, here I come :))))

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