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Stirling Engine Funding Proposal Written By: Stefan Schmitz Date: March 20, 2011 Table of Contents Summary..................................................................

2 Motivation............................................................... 2 Electricity & Alternative Energy Options .. ............................. 3 Filling the Gap ........................................................ 4 History.................................................................. 4 Engine Description....................................................... 5 Modern Stirling Engines.................................................. 5 Design Criteria.......................................................... 6 Development Process...................................................... 6 Project Cost............................................................. 7 Concluding Remarks....................................................... 7 Copyright Philosophy..................................................... 8 Acknowledgements......................................................... 8Summary This document describes the motivation, goals and plans for a project to build an efficient, reliable and easy to manufacture Stirling engine. This engine will be used to produce sustainable energy via wood stove or solar concentrator heat sources. A brief description of our ultimate design intention follows: Produces approximately 5HP (3700 Watts) at optimum operating conditions Comparatively simple in its design and manufacturability

Rhombic drive / Beta configuration Air Charged Research, design and development will be done in house. Machining will be outsourced to a professional machine shop. We estimate a budget of ~$12,000 to complete the entire project. Most of these funds will go towards paying machining fees. Secondary costs are materials and testing equipment. Our time and efforts are free of charge. A breakdown of the project costs and milestones is included towards the end of this document.

Motivation

Why try and build a Stirling engine? Isnt it an invention that has fallen by the way side for good reasons? It has been almost 200 years since Robert Stirling patented the device if the engine had any merit it surely would have been researched, developed and adopted by now!? To address this question lets conduct a simple thought experiment. Lets compare the Stirling engine to todays most commonly used prime mover; the internal combustion engine (ICE). The Stirling engine is less complex than an ICE because the only thing exchanged between the environment and the engine is heat. There is no need for valves, injectors, timing belts, and the list goes on. Simplicity implies two things for the Stirling engine; lower cost and higher reliability. Flexibility is another advantage of the Stirling engine has going for it. Again, because heat is the only thing transferred between the outside environment and the engine it can be adapted to any heat source. Lets look at efficiency; Stirling

engines routinely approach 30% efficiency. ICEs rarely approach 20%. In the engineering world, thats an enormous difference. Another notable difference between Stirling engines and ICEs is the manner in which they burn carbon fuels (if one decided to use the Stirling in such a configuration). ICEs have a very short period of time to mix, compress, ignite, burn and expel fuel mixtures before the next cycle must occur that is the nature of ICEs. Combusting fuel to supply heat to a Stirling engine does not require a particular combustion process you are free to choose the most efficient and clean burning option. To be fair, ICEs do have a clear advantage in one area; performance, or more specifically, power to weight ratio. An ICE can produce a lot of power in a small package. This advantage is essential in only one field; transportation. So Stirling engines might not be the best option for your car, unless you value efficiency more than performance. So to summarize, the Stirling engine is simple, reliable, efficient and flexible. This seems like a good set of attributes where could we apply this engine effectively?

Electricity & Alternative Energy Options

Electricity is so commonplace in our lives that we take it for granted. If we take a minute to think about how often we use electricity every day, and how difficult it would be to substitute that with an alternative, we begin to understand how versatile and powerful electricity is. For some people producing their own electricity is a very appealing idea, for a variety of reasons. Independence: for some people

electricity is so important they want to be in charge of its production. Also, some people live so far away from it all and they have no choice but to produce their own electricity. Sustainability: Some people choose to produce their own electricity so that they can control and negate environmental impacts. Financial: These days producing electricity can be a profitable enterprise, and this is some peoples motivation. People who want or need to produce their own electricity have four options: Solar panels, wind turbines, hydro, and gas generators. Lets look at these options. Well begin with possibly the least appealing. Gas generators can produce a lot of power in a small package. The acquisition cost is low but the operating cost is high. People resort to gas generators when they have no other options; as a backup or temporary measure. One advantage of a gas generator is you can choose when to operate it it is power on demand, and thus does not require a means to store energy, unlike most alternative energy options. Hydro is a great source of electricity, but is very location dependent. For most people this is not a possibility. Wind turbines are cost effective and very environmentally friendly an appealing option. Wind is however site and space dependent and is intermittent. Some places just dont receive much wind, and some properties are too small to accommodate a turbine. Finally we have solar panels. Solar panels are fairly expensive, even with government subsidies. That said they do pay for themselves within 10 years or so and dont take up much space they can usually be installed on roofs. Of course, solar panels are intermittent, and at night time youre guaranteed to not produce any electricity.

Through its adaptability the Stirling engines overcomes some of the drawbacks of other alternative energy options. For example, in a solar thermal configuration the Stirling engine could be as effective as solar panels and with less upfront cost. People with a wood lot, or access to other carbon fuels could use a stove to run a Stirling engine and simultaneously heat their home or shop. This is a sustainable, power on demand solution which only hydro can rival! What were getting at is that there is a serious place for Stirling engines in the alternative energy field. So why cant I go to Canadian Tire or some equivalent store and pickup a Stirling engine device?

Filling the Gap

A Stirling engine is something so adaptable and potentially useful that it should be a common sight and we believe someday it will be. As all the properties the engine possesses (efficiency, reliability, adaptability) become more important the engine will become common place. The one thing we have not mentioned yet, which is perhaps the most impressive and interesting feature of all, is that through its relative simplicity, a Stirling engine could be produced by a common machine shop without much difficulty. Can the same be said for a solar panel or ICE generator? This is our motivation: Here is a device which has many applications and environmental benefits, and with proper instructions could be produced in a common machine shop and yet is unavailable to the public! That motivation drives this goal: To produce a simple but reliable

Stirling engine as a stepping stone towards larger and/or more specialized engines. Using our plans, this is an engine that a private, knowledgeable individual could build for himself, or have built by a professional machine shop, to suite his needs and application. Now that we understand the motivation and goal of the project, lets go back to the start and fill in a bit of missing information.

History

The Stirling engine is a type of heat engine invented by Robert Stirling in 1816. Stirling engines found some early adoption during the industrial revolution as a prime mover in factories but fell to the wayside due to a mix of political reasons, technical challenges and a viable alternative (steam engines). During the early to mid 20 th century interest in the Stirling engine was renewed by companies such as Philips, General Motors, and the US Army. These efforts produced reliable and effective prototypes and in the case of Philips a briefly available commercial product. Development of commercially available engines is once again occurring but options are still very limited and costly. There are a small number of companies which successfully produce Stirling engines for industrial purposes and for large scale solar thermal power generation. In Europe there are companies which have developed combined heat and power Stirling engine products. Also worthy of noting is that the Stirling cycle has

seen much theoretically and academic development in recent years.

Engine Description

The Stirling engine comes in a variety of configurations, all of which use a temperature differential to compress and expand a working gas. This process is usually accomplished in a reciprocating piston/cylinder configuration which turns a fly wheel. One of the primary advantages of the Stirling engine is that it does not require a specific type of heat source. It functions equally well with heat from a chemical reaction (combustion) or electromagnetic radiation (solar, nuclear). The genius of the Stirling engine (and what differentiates it from heat engines) is the regenerator. Between the expansion and compression cycle, the working fluid passes through a regenerator which captures heat energy during the expansion cycle and returns this energy to the fluid during the compression cycle. This makes Stirling engines significantly more efficient than a simple heat engine. A second advantage of the Stirling engine is that it is a closed cycle there is no interaction between the working gas and the outside environment. This allows for simple lubrication and maintenance procedures.

Modern Stirling Engines

After nearly two centuries since its invention the Stirling engine is finally being recognized and developed to its full potential. One of the

primary areas of adoption for the Stirling engine is in solar thermal power generation. Stirling engines are an excellent alternative to photovoltaic (PV) solar power. Unlike PV solar panels, which require rare materials and complex and expensive manufacturing methods, solar powered Stirling engines only require simple reflective surfaces (mirrors) and a Stirling engine which is slightly more complicated than an air compressor (millions of which are manufactured yearly) and certainly less complicated than a car motor (millions of which are manufactured yearly). There are several pilot project power generation stations around the world using solar Stirling configurations including large scale operations in California and Spain. These setups consist of a parabolic trough or dish which focus light onto the Stirling engine. These dishes track the suns motion, maximizing the sun gathering ability. Once in operation, the stations require minimal maintenance. Research is also occurring in automotive applications for the Stirling engine. The Stirling engine has a poor power to weight ratio, relative to internal combustion engines (ICEs), however it is considerably more efficient than an ICE and can burn fuels cleanly and completely. Despite having excellent potential as a prime mover, and more so in a combined heat and power (CHP) arrangement for off grid power, there is no commercially available product which satisfies this rapidly growing and soon to be significant market segment.

Design Criteria

Stirling engine design is a non linear process with many counteracting variables. Optimization is critical and there are several different ways to achieve equally effective designs. Also, the engine does not scale in an easily understandable way while much research has been done in this area, the problem does not lend itself to a solution which engineers are traditionally used to. Stirling engine design is a non linear, reiterative process where one makes a best guess, sees what works, and improves from there. Our end goal is to produce an engine of approximately 5 HP (3700 Watts) with heat sources either being a wood fire stove or solar concentrator. This is power adequate for the basics of a small, efficient home but not so large as to be prohibitively expensive to develop and produce it is also an excellent stepping stone to more specialized engines. The design priorities are such, in order of importance: 1. Simplicity: The engine must be reasonably simple. This results in manufacturability by most machine shops and it reduces the cost of production. 2. Efficiency: Make the most of the energy input. This reduces operating cost and increases power output. 3. Reliability: Simple and occasional maintenance only. This results in lower operating costs. From these three design criteria we can make the more general statement: The engine should be as energy efficient as possible without making the

design overly complex, unreliable or costly.

Development Process

We have been researching Stirling engines for over three years using the available literature and online resources. The project is divided into three parts. Part 1; our initial efforts concentrated on a simplified design to prove the concept and as a learning experience in the design process, machining and establishing supplier connections. This engine is in the process of being assembled. Part 2; currently we are designing a second interim engine which improves upon the previous model. This second model incorporates lessons learned in simplifying the design for easier machining and assembly. The second model also incorporates more of the features which will be on the final prototype. We will outsource the actual machining process of this engine to an established machine shop. Once this second model is complete and operational it will be attached to a sensor suite (temperature and pressure in each chamber) to verify and refine a mathematical model for the engine. Using this math model and all the lessons learned will allow us to design the final engine effectively. Part 3; this will be the full sized 5 HP prototype which incorporates all the features and lessons learned from Parts 1 and 2. The heat source for the engine and the electrical generator are not parts of this project. These elements will be easy enough to incorporate once we have a working engine and will consist of readily available off the shelf components. For now, we want to focus only on the engine itself. Project Cost

To achieve our goal we need funding. We need money to pay for materials and the labour of machinists for the second interim model, and for the final 5HP model. We also need to create a sensor suite to confirm and refine a mathematical model in the hopes of optimising the final engine design. Our research and our experience from the engine created in Part 1 lead us to the following cost estimate for Part 2: 1. Raw materials $500

2. Machinist labour 40 Hrs @ $70/hr $2800 3. Sensor suite 4. Reserves Total $500 $200 $4000

Cost estimates for the final full sized engine will be made after completing the intermediate engine in Part 2 but we currently assume it will cost at least twice the amount. This would bring the total project cost to $12,000. Concluding Remarks What would be the results of a successful outcome of this project? First, there would exist a functioning, deployable Stirling engine design that I would share freely with others and which could be adapted for a variety of power generating configurations. This would already be a great achievement and would be a huge contribution towards furthering awareness of Stirling engines. Secondly, it would be a trivial matter to build and package this engine as a complete commercial product for those who want to generate electricity in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. It would give people more options for producing green energy and a means

for securing energy independence. I personally funded the first part of this project and achieved real results. I spent approximately $500 on materials and machine tools to complete Part 1 of this project. More importantly Ive put in over 1000 hours of my own labour towards this project through research, design, purchasing and machining. I cannot personally fund the remainder of this project. Im eager to put in the time and effort but simply do not have the assets to fund the project by myself. I hope Ive been able to transmit to you the value of this idea through this report and that you trust in my abilities to see it through thanks for reading! Copyright Philosophy All efforts and progress made as a result of this funding will be released under a Creative Commons or Open Source copyright model. This will allow the average person to freely build or modify our engine, or to further develop our Stirling engine technology without copyright infringement issue while at the same time preventing a corporate (or otherwise) entity from copyrighting our ideas for themselves. Acknowledgements Thanks to Joe for your encouragement, knowledge and use of your machines! Thanks to Gary for the use of your shop and lathe and for your willingness to show me some of the basics. Thanks to Rory as well for sharing with me your knowledge of engines, seals and lathes. And thanks to Rolly for helping me to learn to use SolidWorks and in helping design the first engine.