stirlingengine, Silnik Stirlinga, Dokumenty

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By William Gurstelle
The Stirling engine has long captivated
inventors and dreamers. Here are com-
plete plans for building and operating a
two-cylinder model that runs on almost
any high-temperature heat source.
Stirling engines are
external combustion
engines, which
means no combustion takes place inside the engine and
there’s no need for intake or exhaust valves. As a result,
Stirling engines are smooth-running and exceptionally quiet.
Because the Stirling cycle uses an external heat source, it
can be run on whatever is available that makes heat — anything
from hydrogen to solar energy to gasoline.
Our Stirling engine consists of two pistons immersed in two
cans of water. One can contains hot water and the other cold.
The temperature difference between the two sides causes the
engine to run. The difference in the hot and cold side tempera-
tures creates variations in air pressure and volume inside the
engine. These pressure differences rotate a system of inertial
weights and mechanical linkages, which in turn control the
pressure and volume of the air cylinder.
Set up:
Make it:
Use it:
William Gurstelle
serves on MAKE’s Technical Advisory Board and is the author of
Backyard Ballistics
from the Technology Underground
Every heat engine
works on a cycle. When
heat is applied to a
working fluid, the fluid
undergoes some sort of
change — its pressure,
volume, or temperature
is increased by the
added heat — and in so
doing, the fluid does
meaningful work on
its surroundings. Work
could mean making
a piston move, or a
turbine, or some other
mechanical object. The
Stirling cycle is a four-
step process, using hot
air as its working fluid.
Four Steps of the Stirling Cycle
Cold piston (left) moves
upward by flywheel iner-
tia, drawing hot air over
to cold side.
Hot air is forced to the
left cylinder, forcing the
cold piston up. This is
the power cycle.
As air in the cold
water contracts,
the cold piston
moves down.
With the cold piston
fully down, most air
is on hot side and
getting reheated.
All engines run on heat cycles. More properly called
thermodynamic cycles, each of these cycles has
a name. Cars run on the Otto cycle, trucks on the
Diesel cycle. Power plants often run the Rankine,
while gas turbines run the Brayton cycle.
One cycle in particular has long captivated inven-
tors and dreamers — the Stirling cycle. The Stirling
cycle was among the first of the thermodynamic
cycles to be exploited by engineers. Compared
to other engine types, it is ancient. When it was
patented as a new type of engine by a Scottish cleric
in 1816, scientists hadn’t even come up with the
idea of thermodynamic cycles.
Robert Stirling, a young Scottish Presbyterian
assistant minister, had the idea for a new type of
heat engine that used hot air for its working fluid.
Until then, the steam engines of Watt and Newcomen
were the only heat engines in use.
expensive cost structure, doomed the Stirling to
automotive irrelevance.
The External Combustion Revival
The Stirling idea was dusted off in the mid-1990s.
A prototype Stirling hybrid propulsion system was
integrated into a 1995 Chevrolet Lumina. But that
test was not particularly successful, as the hybrid
vehicle failed to meet several key goals for fuel
efficiency and reliability. The program was aban-
doned. Still, Stirling engine advocates continue
to research and apply the technology. The big
breakthrough may yet arrive, possibly in a hybrid
electric-Stirling engine.
While not terribly complex, the engineering
analysis of the engine’s thermodynamic cycle
goes beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to
say that Stirling engines operate on a four-part
cycle in which the air inside the engine is cyclically
compressed, heated, expanded, and cooled, and as
this occurs, the engine produces useful work.
While most heat engines are fairly understand-
able to interested amateurs, building one yourself
is an altogether different prospect. Most engines
require carefully machined metal parts, with
close tolerances and tightly sealing clearances
for pistons and/or rotating parts. Robert Stirling’s
heat engine is an exception. Or at the very least,
making a working model can be done without any
difficult machining.
Stirling Engines Go to Work …
and Are Laid to Rest
Stirling’s idea was to alternately heat and cool air in
a cylinder using articulated mechanical arms and
a flywheel to coax the machine to run in a smooth,
endless cycle.
Although complex and expensive for its time,
Reverend Stirling made it work. As early as 1818,
his engine was in use pumping water from a stone
quarry. By 1820, a 45-horsepower Stirling engine
was driving equipment in the Scottish foundry
where his brother worked.
Auto manufacturers have experimented with the
Stirling for years. Its numerous good qualities make
the Stirling an attractive candidate to replace or
augment internal combustion engines.
Automakers worked closely with the federal
government from 1978 to 1987 on Stirling engine
programs. The goals were ambitious: low emission
levels, smooth operation, a 30% improvement
in fuel economy, and successful integration and
operation in a representative U.S. automobile.
General Motors placed one in a 1985 Chevrolet
Celebrity, and met all of the program’s technical
goals. But improvements in the efficiency of existing
engine types, coupled with the status quo’s far less
About MAKE’s Stirling Engine
This article provides step-by-step instructions
for building a straightforward Stirling external
combustion engine.
This engine is simple and cheap, and once you
get it going, you really get a feel for how this sort of
engine works. It chugs along at a leisurely 20 to 30
rpm, its power output is minuscule, and it makes a
delightful squishing/chuffing noise as it operates.
But be forewarned: All engines, even the metal-
can Stirling described here, are complex mechani-
cal devices in which myriad mechanical movements
must come together in precise fashion in order to
attain cyclical operation.
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