THE STIRLING CYCLE
I l l u s t r a t i o n s b y N i k S c h u l z / L - D o p a . c o m
COMPRESSIONAs air in the coldwater contracts,the cold pistonmoves down.COOLINGCold piston (left) movesupward by flywheel iner-tia, drawing hot air overto cold side.HEATINGWith the cold pistonfully down, most airis on hot side and getting reheated.EXPANSIONHot air is forced to theleft cylinder, forcing thecold piston up. This isthe power cycle.
Four Steps of the Stirling Cycle
Every heat engineworks on a cycle. Whenheat is applied to aworking fluid, the fluidundergoes some sort ofchange — its pressure, volume, or temperatureis increased by theadded heat — and in sodoing, the fluid doesmeaningful work onits surroundings. Workcould mean makinga piston move, or aturbine, or some othermechanical object. TheStirling cycle is a four-step process, using hotair as its working fluid.1234