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The International conference of the Thai Society of Agricultural Engineering 2012 April 4 5, 2012, Chiangmai, Thailand

Development of a Gamma Type Stirling Engine with Double Power-Piston


Sutapat Kwankaomeng1,* and Kongsak Burapatthananon1
1

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, King Mongkuts Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, Bangkok, Thailand 10520 * Corresponding Author: E-mail: kksudara@kmitl.ac.th, Tel: 0 2329 8321, Fax: 0 2329 8352,

Abstract Stirling engine is a hot gas engine that offers good advantages in fuel options, simple design, quiet, and low pollution. The development and test of gamma type Stirling engine with double power piston are presented. The gamma configuration of the engine consists of one displacers cylinder connected to two cylinders of the power pistons. The prototype has the displacer diameter and stroke of 218.5 mm and 80 mm, respectively, and the power piston diameter and stroke of 98.5 mm and 110 mm, respectively. The engine was improved and tested over wide range of operating conditions for comparison. The results indicated that power of the improved prototype is better. Unpressurized engine and using air as a working gas with the temperature of 512 oC and 54 oC at the hot head engine and the air cooler section, respectively, the maximum engine power was 5.05 W at 68.7 rpm and the maximum torque was 0.978 N.m at 45 rpm. Keywords: Stirling engine; gamma type; double power-piston. 1. Introduction The limitation and depletion of fossil fuels has captured our attention on searching renewable and sustainable energy sources. Especially, emissions produced by fossil fuel combustion engines are causing the greenhouse effect and global warming. One optional and potential engine solving these problems is the Stirling engine [1]. Stirling engine is a simple type of external heat engine. It was first proposed by Robert Stirling in 1816 (UK, patent no. 4081). Since then, several Striling engines based upon his invention were built in many forms and sizes. The Stirling cycle engine is environmental harmless and high theoretical efficiency and almost silent operation. Stirling engines can be supplied with several gases as working fluid, such as air, helium, hydrogen, nitrogen and etc. Plenty heat sources can be employed on Stirling engine including combustible materials, agricultural waste, biomass, biogas, solar energy and so on. Heat is then converted to mechanical or useful work by Stirling engine. In 1920, the Stirling engine was terminated by the rapid development of the internal combustion engine and the electric motor. In 1937 [2], however, Stirling engine was brought to a high state of technological development by the Philips Research Laboratory in Eindhoven, Holland, and has progressed

The International conference of the Thai Society of Agricultural Engineering 2012 April 4 5, 2012, Chiangmai, Thailand

continuously since that time. The initial work is focused on the development of small thermal power electric generators for radios and similar equipments used in remote areas and new materials were one of the keys to the Stirling engine success; the Philips research team used new materials, such as stainless steel. Another key to success was having a better knowledge of thermal and fluid physics than in the first era. The progress in further development by Philips and many industrial laboratories, together with the need for more energy resources, has sustained the second era of Stirling engine development until today. In most models, the engines operate with a heater and cooler temperature about 923 K and 338 K, respectively [1]. The thermal limit for the operation of high temperature Stirling engine depends on the material used for its construction. Engine efficiency ranges from about 3040% resulting in a typical temperature range of 9231073 K, and normal operating speed range is from 2000 to 4000 rpm [3]. In 1970 and 1980s [4], a huge amount of research was conducted on Stirling engine for automobiles by companies such as General Motors and Ford. The main drawback is the Stirling engine tends to run at constant power setting that is not proper for automobiles. In 1997, Iwamoto et al. [5] compared the performance of a LTD Stirling engine with a hightemperature differential Stirling engine. Finally, they concluded that the LTD Stirling engine efficiency at its rated speed was approximately 50% of the Carnot efficiency. In 2003, Kongtragool and Wongwises [6] made a theoretical investigation on the Beale

number for LTD Stirling engines. The existing Beale number data for various engine specifications were collected from literatures. They concluded that the Beale number for a LTD Stirling engine could be found from the meanpressure power formula. In 2005, Kongtragool and Wongwises [7] investigated, theoretically, the power output of the gamma-configuration LTD Stirling engine. The former works on Stirling engine power output calculation were studied and discussed. They pointed out that the mean-pressure power formula was the most appropriate for LTD Stirling engine power output estimation. In 2006, Kongtragool and Wongwises [8] designed and constructed two single-acting, twinpower piston and four-power piston gammaconfiguration LTD Stirling engines with heater temperature of about 589771 K. The tested engines were equipped with regenerator to increase the thermal efficiency. This investigation is concerned with the design and manufacture of gamma type Stirling engine with double pistons. The advantage of using two pistons is the augmentation of heat transfer area and supply of more heat to the working gas at expansion period. In gamma type Stirling engines, either the hot end or the cold end of displacer cylinder can be connected to the expansion cylinder. Hot end connection serves the advantage of larger cyclic work [9]. 2. Engine configuration and specifications 2.1 Engine Configuration Stirling engine has major dynamic parts which are two pistons. The light weight piston with loose fitted in the cylinder is called displacer while the close fit piston producing work is called

The International conference of the Thai Society of Agricultural Engineering 2012 April 4 5, 2012, Chiangmai, Thailand

working piston or power piston. The gas inside the engine is circulated between the hot and cold section of engine called expansion and compression space, respectively, driving pistons and transferring of engine power. The single acting Stirling cycle engines are typically categorized by structure in three different configurations such as alpha, beta and gamma types as shown in Fig. 1. The alpha feature shown in Fig.1 (a) has two separately cylinders for the expansion and compression spaces and each contain a single piston. The beta form has two pistons sliding in the same cylinder as presented in Fig.1 (b). The gamma configuration consists of two cylinders and two pistons that share the compression space between those two cylinders as presented in Fig.1 (c). The schematic diagram of the prototype is shown in Fig. 2.

Crankshaft Power piston connecting rod Power piston cylinder Displacer guide

Flywheel

Connecting rod pin Displacer connecting rod Displacer cylinder

Fig. 2 The prototype. 2.2 Engine specifications The engine specifications are shown in Tables 1. The prototype is designed in singleacting, gamma configuration. Since the gammaconfiguration provides a large regenerator heat transfer area [5] and is easy to be constructed [10], this configuration is used in the present study. Two power cylinders are directly connected to the cooler plate to minimize the cold-space and transfer-port dead volume. It is used air of cooling. In order to minimize the number of engine parts, a simple crank mechanism is used in this engine. The crankshaft and a crank pin are made of steel. The crankshaft is supported by two ball bearings. The crank pin is connected to the displacer connecting rod. Two steel flywheels are attached to both ends of the crankshaft. Theses flywheels also act as the crank for the power piston.

(a) The alpha engine configuration.

(b) The beta engine configuration.

(c) The gamma Stirling engine configuration. Fig.1 Structure of alpha, beta and gamma.

The International conference of the Thai Society of Agricultural Engineering 2012 April 4 5, 2012, Chiangmai, Thailand

Table. 1 Prototype specifications Mechanical configuration Displacer : Bore x stroke (cm) Swept volume (cc) Power piston : Bore x stroke (cm) Swept volume (cc) Compression ratio Phase angle Working gas Cooling medium Fuel Gamma 22.8 x 8 3266.25 9.9 x 11 1693.49 1.93 90 Air Air LPG

The piston rod and displacer rod are made of steel rods. Both ends of the connecting rod are attached to two ball bearings in housings. 3. Experimental apparatus The engine and testing facilities are shown in Fig. 3 and 4. Details of the testing equipments are as follows: To measure the temperatures of the hot and cold section, some DIGICON DP-88 thermal sensors were attached to the steel plates of heat exchangers. The accuracy of the temperature measurement was 0.5 C. A domestic gas burner equipped with a LPG tank, a pressure regulator, and an adjustment valve is used to power the engine as the proof of concept device. An electronic balance and a stopwatch are used to measure the gas consumption. The accuracy of the gas mass measurement is 0.05 kg. The accuracy of the time measurement is 0.01 s. Since the engine speed is low, a ropebrake dynamometer can be used to measure the engine torque. A flywheel, 30.5 cm in diameter, is used as a brake drum. The braking load is measured by the loading weight and the spring balance reading. A photo tachometer with 0.1 rpm accuracy is used to measure the engine speed. 4. Experimental setup The engine is initially charged with atmospheric air as the working gas, heated by LPG fuel and cooled by ambient air. Before the engine is started, the domestic gas burner is placed underneath the displacer head. The gas tank is then placed on the electronic balance and the initial gas mass is recorded.

The piston cylinders and power pistons are machined from steel. The cylinder bores are finished by turning. The clearance between the piston and bore is 0.5 mm, approximately. The displacer cylinder is formed of steel with 5 mm thickness. The displacer is fabricated from stainless steel. The displacer swept volume is 3266 cc with 22.8 cm bore and 8 cm stroke. The power piston bore and stroke is 9.9 cm and 11 cm, respectively. The swept volume ratio of this engine is 1.93. The cylinder of the displacer was flared to contain regenerator as heat exchanger. The steel wool is used as a regenerator matrix. The displacer liner is located inside the displacer cylinder consisting gas ports letting the working gas flow through between hot and cold spaces. The clearance between the displacer and its cylinder is 10 mm, approximately. A stainless steel pipe is used as the displacer rod. The displacer rod is guided by two brass bushings placed in the displacer rod guide housing. Two rubber seals are used to prevent leakage through the displacer rod guide bushings.

The International conference of the Thai Society of Agricultural Engineering 2012 April 4 5, 2012, Chiangmai, Thailand

in testing are recorded. The testing can be repeated with another heat input by changing the gas flow rate.
Digital Tachometer

Thermal sensors

LPG Electronic Balance

Fig. 3 Schematic diagram of the Stirling engine and testing facilities.

w1

Brake drum
N

w2

Stirling engine

Fig. 4 Schematic illustration of the rope-brake dynamometer test rig. Some lubricating oil is dropped on the power pistons, cylinders, and the displacer guide bushing. The gas burner is then fired and the gas flow rate is kept constant throughout the testing. The displacer head is heated up until it reaches the operating temperature. The engine is then started and run until the steady condition is reached. The engine is loaded by adding tension rope to the brake drum. After that, the engine speed values, spring balance readings and all temperatures from the thermal sensor are collected. Another loading tension rope is added to the brake drum until the engine is stopped. Finally, the final mass of the LPG and time taken

5. Results and discussions Figs. 58 show the engine test results of the double power piston engine. The engine torque is calculated from: (1) T ( w w )r where w1 and w2 is the spring balance reading, and r is brake drum radius. The actual engine power can be calculated from: (2) P 2 TN where N is engine speed. The engine was started to run at 60 rpm within 5 minutes after heating until the heater surface temperature reached 490 oC as illustrated in Fig. 5. As the heater surface temperature is increased, the engine speed is elevated during the unsteady operating period. It can be observed that the steady heater temperature can be achieved at 512 oC in 5 minutes while the average rotational speed of the engine of 120 rpm and be obtained over 15 minutes. The maximum engine speed was 130 rpm at temperature of 560 C. The relationship of the engine speed and torque is depicted in Fig. 6. If the external load is gradually increased, the speed decreases up to a certain value and then the engine stops. Before the engine stops, the crankshaft speed exhibits larger oscillations. Therefore, data obtained for speeds near enough to stopping point are not reliable and left out of the evaluation. As the speed of the engine decreases, the torque increases. The engine torque is decreased by the increasing of engine speed. At the engine speed of 45 rpm, the maximum torque was 0.978 N.m.
1 2

The International conference of the Thai Society of Agricultural Engineering 2012 April 4 5, 2012, Chiangmai, Thailand
700 160 140 120
5.1 1.1

600

1.0

Temperature ( C)

500 100 400 80 60 40 200 20 100

Engine Speed (rpm)

5.0

Engine Power (W)

.9 4.9

.8

300

4.8

.7

.6 4.7

Temperature Engine Speed


0 5 10 15 20 25 30

0
4.6 40 50 60

Engine Power Torque


70 80 90 100

.5

.4

Time (min)

Engine Speed (rpm)

Fig. 5 Variation of temperature and engine torque with speed.


1.1 1.0

.9

.8

.7

.6

Fig. 8 Variation of engine power and torque with speed. Fig. 7 shows the engine power varied with speed. The maximum engine power was 5.05 W at 68.7 rpm. As in Fig. 8, the engine power is a function of speed and torque. The decrease of engine power was at the speed lower than 68.7 rpm. As the decline of engine torque after engine speed of 45 rpm, the power was also decreased. 6. Conclusion The testing results showed that the engine started operation in 5 minutes at temperature about 490 C on the hot engine head and the temperature of 47 C at the air cooler section. The maximum engine speed was 130 rpm at temperature of 560 C. The maximum torque was 0.978 N.m at 45 rpm and maximum engine power was 5.05 W at 68.7 rpm. The engine, however, is just modified and improved the measuring system to investigate for the best performance of this prototype using unpressurized air at the beginning step. The engine performance can be enhanced in the future works by using water cooling system, pressurizing the working gas such as helium or hydrogen in hermetic seal engine.

Torque (Nm)

.5

Torque (Nm)
40 50 60 70 80 90 100

.4

Engine speed (rpm)

Fig. 6 Variation of engine torque versus the rotational speed.


5.1

5.0

Engine Power (W)

4.9

4.8

4.7

4.6 Power Engine 4.5 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

Engine Speed (rpm)

Fig. 7 Variation of engine power versus the speed.

Torque (Nm)

The International conference of the Thai Society of Agricultural Engineering 2012 April 4 5, 2012, Chiangmai, Thailand

References [1] Walker, G. (1980). Stirling engines, Oxford Clarendon Press, Calgary. [2] Senft, J.R. (1993). Ringbom Stirling engines, Oxford University Press, New York. [3] Stine, W.B. (1998). Stirling engines, CRC Press, Boca Raton. [4] Ali Reza Tavakolpour, Ali Zomorodian and Ali Akbar Golneshan. (2007). Simulation, construction and testing of a two-cylinder solar Stirling engine powered by a flat-plate solar collector without regenerator, Renewable Energy vol. 33(3), March 2007, pp. 77 - 87. [5] Iwamoto, I., Toda, F., Hirata, K., Takeuchi, M., and Yamamoto, T. (1997). Comparison of low-temperature and high-temperature differential Stirling engines, Proceeding of 8th international Stirling engine conference,vol 8(2730), May 1997, pp. 29 - 38. [6] Kongtragool, B. and Wongwises, S. (2003). Theoretical investigation on Beale number for

low-temperature differential Stirling engines. Proceedings of the second international conference on heat transfer, fluid mechanics, and Thermodynamics, vol. 2(23-26), June 2003. [7] Kongtragool, B. and Wongwises, S. (2004). Investigation on power output of the gammaconfiguration low temperature differential Stirling engines. Renewable Energy, vol. 30(10), June 2004, pp. 465 - 476. [8] Kongtragool B, Wongwises S. (2006). Performance of low-temperature differential Stirling engines. Renew Energy, vol. 32(2), March 2006, pp. 547 - 566. [9] Kentfield, J.A.C. (1992). The thermodynamics of Stirling engines revisited - The relative merits of hot zone or cold zone work extraction, IECEC, vol. 5(3-7), August 1992, pp. 533 540. [10] Rizzo, JG. (1997). The Stirling engine manual. Camden Miniature steam services, Somerset.