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Gustav Fokin
Gustav Fokin

Stirling Engine Design Manual

This paper showcases the designing, fabrication, and performance evaluation of 90-deg alpha-type Stirling engine. The diameters of the hot and cold cylinder are 50 mm and 44 mm, respectively, with a stroke length of 70 mm. The computer-aided design (CAD) model is developed by keeping in mind the ease of manufacturing, maintenance, bearing replacements, and lubrication. After fabrication, the engine is tested by heating the hot cylinder with air as a working fluid. The engine delivered peak power of 155 watts at the temperature of 1123 K and 968 K for hot and cold cylinders, respectively. This developed prototype can be commissioned with the solar parabolic concentrator in the future based on the smooth operation while delivering power.

Stirling Engine Design Manual

Stirling patented a second hot air engine, together with his brother James, in 1827.[11] They inverted the design so that the hot ends of the displacers were underneath the machinery, and they added a compressed air pump so the air within could be increased in pressure to around 20 standard atmospheres (2,000 kPa).[citation needed]

The Stirling engine (or Stirling's air engine as it was known at the time) was invented and patented in 1816.[19] It followed earlier attempts at making an air engine but was probably the first put to practical use when, in 1818, an engine built by Stirling was employed pumping water in a quarry.[20] The main subject of Stirling's original patent was a heat exchanger, which he called an "economiser" for its enhancement of fuel economy in a variety of applications. The patent also described in detail the employment of one form of the economiser in his unique closed-cycle air engine design[21] in which application it is now generally known as a "regenerator". Subsequent development by Robert Stirling and his brother James, an engineer, resulted in patents for various improved configurations of the original engine including pressurization, which by 1843, had sufficiently increased power output to drive all the machinery at a Dundee iron foundry.[22]

Subsequent to the replacement of the Dundee foundry engine there is no record of the Stirling brothers having any further involvement with air engine development, and the Stirling engine never again competed with steam as an industrial scale power source. (Steam boilers were becoming safer, e.g. the Hartford Steam Boiler[29] and steam engines more efficient, thus presenting less of a target for rival prime movers). However, beginning about 1860, smaller engines of the Stirling/hot air type were produced in substantial numbers for applications in which reliable sources of low to medium power were required, such as pumping air for church organs or raising water.[30] These smaller engines generally operated at lower temperatures so as not to tax available materials, and so were relatively inefficient. Their selling point was that unlike steam engines, they could be operated safely by anybody capable of managing a fire. The 1906 Rider-Ericsson Engine Co. catalog claimed that "any gardener or ordinary domestic can operate these engines and no licensed or experienced engineer is required".[citation needed] Several types remained in production beyond the end of the century, but apart from a few minor mechanical improvements the design of the Stirling engine in general stagnated during this period.[31]

By 1951, the 180/200 W generator set designated MP1002CA (known as the "Bungalow set") was ready for production and an initial batch of 250 was planned, but soon it became clear that they could not be made at a competitive price. Additionally, the advent of transistor radios and their much lower power requirements meant that the original reason for the set was disappearing. Approximately 150 of these sets were eventually produced.[36] Some found their way into university and college engineering departments around the world, giving generations of students a valuable introduction to the Stirling engine; a letter dated March 1961 from Research and Control Instruments Ltd. London WC1 to North Devon Technical College, offering "remaining stocks... to institutions such as yourselves... at a special price of 75 net".[citation needed]

Robert Stirling patented the first practical example of a closed-cycle hot air engine in 1816, and it was suggested by Fleeming Jenkin as early as 1884 that all such engines should therefore generically be called Stirling engines. This naming proposal found little favour, and the various types on the market continued to be known by the name of their individual designers or manufacturers, e.g., Rider's, Robinson's, or Heinrici's (hot) air engine. In the 1940s, the Philips company was seeking a suitable name for its own version of the 'air engine', which by that time had been tested with working fluids other than air, and decided upon 'Stirling engine' in April 1945.[42] However, nearly thirty years later, Graham Walker still had cause to bemoan the fact such terms as hot air engine remained interchangeable with Stirling engine, which itself was applied widely and indiscriminately,[43] a situation that continues.[44]

The engine is designed so the working gas is generally compressed in the colder portion of the engine and expanded in the hotter portion resulting in a net conversion of heat into work.[2] An internal regenerative heat exchanger increases the Stirling engine's thermal efficiency compared to simpler hot air engines lacking this feature.

Other suitable heat sources include concentrated solar energy, geothermal energy, nuclear energy, waste heat and bioenergy. If solar power is used as a heat source, regular solar mirrors and solar dishes may be utilised. The use of Fresnel lenses and mirrors has also been advocated, for example in planetary surface exploration.[46] Solar powered Stirling engines are increasingly popular as they offer an environmentally sound option for producing power while some designs are economically attractive in development projects.[47]

The design challenge for a Stirling engine regenerator is to provide sufficient heat transfer capacity without introducing too much additional internal volume ('dead space') or flow resistance. These inherent design conflicts are one of many factors that limit the efficiency of practical Stirling engines. A typical design is a stack of fine metal wire meshes, with low porosity to reduce dead space, and with the wire axes perpendicular to the gas flow to reduce conduction in that direction and to maximize convective heat transfer.[51]

The displacer is a special-purpose piston, used in Beta and Gamma type Stirling engines, to move the working gas back and forth between the hot and cold heat exchangers. Depending on the type of engine design, the displacer may or may not be sealed to the cylinder; i.e., it may be a loose fit within the cylinder, allowing the working gas to pass around it as it moves to occupy the part of the cylinder beyond. The Alpha type engine has a high stress on the hot side, that's why so few inventors started to use a hybrid piston for that side. The hybrid piston has a sealed part as a normal Alpha type engine, but it has a connected displacer part with smaller diameter as the cylinder around that. The compression ratio is a bit smaller than in the original Alpha type engines, but the stress factor is pretty low on the sealed parts.[citation needed]

Free-piston Stirling engines include those with liquid pistons and those with diaphragms as pistons. In a free-piston device, energy may be added or removed by an electrical linear alternator, pump or other coaxial device. This avoids the need for a linkage, and reduces the number of moving parts. In some designs, friction and wear are nearly eliminated by the use of non-contact gas bearings or very precise suspension through planar springs.[citation needed]

When the displacer is in motion, the generator holds the working piston in the limit position, which brings the engine working cycle close to an ideal Stirling cycle.[citation needed]The ratio of the area of the heat exchangers to the volume of the machine increases by the implementation of a flat design.[citation needed]

Power output of a Stirling tends to be constant and to adjust it can sometimes require careful design and additional mechanisms. Typically, changes in output are achieved by varying the displacement of the engine (often through use of a swashplate crankshaft arrangement), or by changing the quantity of working fluid, or by altering the piston/displacer phase angle, or in some cases simply by altering the engine load. This property is less of a drawback in hybrid electric propulsion or "base load" utility generation where constant power output is actually desirable.

In most high-power Stirling engines, both the minimum pressure and mean pressure of the working fluid are above atmospheric pressure. This initial engine pressurization can be realized by a pump, or by filling the engine from a compressed gas tank, or even just by sealing the engine when the mean temperature is lower than the mean operating temperature. All of these methods increase the mass of working fluid in the thermodynamic cycle. All of the heat exchangers must be sized appropriately to supply the necessary heat transfer rates. If the heat exchangers are well designed and can supply the heat flux needed for convective heat transfer, then the engine, in a first approximation, produces power in proportion to the mean pressure, as predicted by the West number, and Beale number. In practice, the maximum pressure is also limited to the safe pressure of the pressure vessel. Like most aspects of Stirling engine design, optimization is multivariate, and often has conflicting requirements.[71] A difficulty of pressurization is that while it improves the power, the heat required increases proportionately to the increased power. This heat transfer is made increasingly difficult with pressurization since increased pressure also demands increased thicknesses of the walls of the engine, which, in turn, increase the resistance to heat transfer.[citation needed] 041b061a72


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