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By Francis C W Fung, PH.D. “Steam Engine initiated 19th Century, internal combustion engine powered 20th Century, and Stirling engine will herald 21st Century Green Harmony”. FOREWORD During the last two decades the US has forged ahead in Solar Stirling Engine technology. Two solar electric utilities are planned in California with a total capacity of 1750 MW. In Solar power there lies the most rewarding future of Stirling Engine advantage. These two solar powered Stirling engine power plants will have the total capacity equivalent to two large nuclear power plants. The size of these two solar power plants clearly points to the fact that to convert all US electric utilities to green energy solar Stirling engine will have to play a very essential role. In my paper “The Promising Future of Stirling Engines in China” a keynote speech of the 2nd International Conference on Stirling Engines, held in Shanghai, July, 1984, I explained many potential applications of Stirling engine in China. At the time China was still very much a developing country. The present paper includes the above material, plus my recent paper (in response to former vice president Al Gore’s recommendation to convert all U.S. power generation to green power by 2018) titled “Green Energy for Electricity Initiative (GENEI), Alternative to Nuclear and Fossil Energy.” To all above I also added a short section titled “The Future of Green energy Stirling engine in Transportation.” U.S. and China are two major countries that have the wisdom to invest in Stirling engine development for harmony with nature. One is the biggest oil consuming nation and the other is fast catching up by acting as the manufacturer of the world. Both have the destiny to develop a common energy strategy instead of competing with each other for oil. The only win- win solution for energy independence is to work together to solve the common shortage. Thus I propose that both nations carry out regular strategic energy dialogue for cooperation, especially in the all important energy technology of Stirling engine Renaissance. I have played a role in the past and wish to continue to do so. This is the intent of the present paper. With these contents I wish to point out the potential of a 21st Century green world with Stirling engine Renaissance. For sure we can then say “Steam Engine initiated 19th century, internal combustion engine powered 20th century, and Stirling engine will herald 21st Century Green Harmony”.
GREEN ENERGY FOR ELECTRICITY INITIATIVE (GENEI) ALTERNATIVE TO NUCLEAR AND FOSSIL ENERGY
On July 17, 2008 Al Gore, former US Vice President, made an important US energy independent announcement. The main theme was to announce the timely and important initiative of converting all US electricity production to green energy in a decade, by 2018. The initiative is wise and admirable, but is it realistic? Is it achievable and how? Currently the US electricity generation is 70% by fossil fuel, 20% by nuclear power and only 10% by solar, hydro, wind and other forms of renewable energy. Gore’s ambitious goal is achievable if supported by concerted national efforts of Solar Stirling Engine programs to gradually replace existing fossil fuel power plants, large or small. America is a country of vast resources and can do spirit demonstrated by the mass mobilization of WWII in airplane manufacturing capability. Half a century later the world has not yet caught up. In the urgency of the present national energy and climate crisis, the same ‘can do’ attitude can be applied to the Green Energy for Electricity Initiative (GENEI) for success. The GENEI policy will put US so far ahead in Solar Stirling system manufacturing that the world will not be able to catch up. The momentum of GENEI advocacy will make us the largest energy technology and Stirling Engine export nation in the history of world green energy technology and product export. The potential world market of GENEI technology and products together with our reduction in oil imports can be so great as to more than halve the current American trade deficit. The US is in great need of a president who will adhere to the mission and vision advanced by Al Gore. Exactly twenty-four years ago I delivered a key note speech at the Second International Conference of Stirling Engines in Shanghai, China. The title of my speech was “The Promising Future of Stirling Engines in China”. This was referring to American Stirling Engine technology being transferred to China. The idea was for China to deploy nationwide, small size solar powered Stirling engines as an appropriate renewable energy technology. The most endearing and commanding source of external heat to power Stirling Engines without doubt is solar heat. Because of the simplicity of the Stirling Engine’s operating principle and construction compared to the conventional internal combustion engine, this is a winning combination from economical and renewable energy considerations. The operating gas in a Stirling Engine is hermetically sealed and heat is added to the outside of the engine cylinder. Thus mechanically, high efficiency Stirling Engines are very simple and maintenance free. Most of all, because of its high heat and power concentration capability, it is also particularly suitable for large electric utility applications compared to solar voltaic panels. Solar voltaic panels as alternative utility power plants have significantly lower thermal efficiency, higher cost and take up much more space for the same electricity power delivered. As of this writing, the two largest Solar power Stirling Engine Utility Plants under construction are the Solar One Project being built for Southern California Edison at the California Mohave desert and the Solar Two Project being built for San Diego Gas and
Electric at Imperial County at Southern California. The total designed power for these two projects add up to be 1750 MW, the size of two large nuclear power plants. How does Solar Stirling Engine stack up against Nuclear Power plants? The solar Stirling Engine technology used in these two projects are called the SES SunCatcher system, they hold the record for the most efficient solar electricity generation technology in the world. The SES SunCatcher is a highly concentrating solar thermal technology that converts sunlight into electricity at a rate of 31.25 percent, significantly more efficient than its closest competitor. The cost of electric power for these Sun Catchers is 1/5 to 1/10 the cost of comparable photo voltaic panels. Each Sun Catcher dish is 38 feet tall, 40 feet wide and generates 25,000 watts of power, which means they occupy much less space compared to any solar voltaic panels on per kilowatt basis. The large space required for solar voltaic panels, high price and low efficiency, disqualified them as candidates for large utilities in competing with Solar Stirling Engine systems. The cost of nuclear power plants is manifolds higher than the equivalent Solar Stirling Engine power plants because of the strict need and regulation requirements to prevent nuclear radioactivity leaks. All nuclear power plants must be housed in huge fortified containment housing, and all systems of hot and cooling water circulation must be heavily protected and isolated. The construction cycle is also unduly long. Despite all the built in safety factors for nuclear power plants, mechanical failures and human errors do occur. Accidents like Three Mile Island in the US and Chernobyl in Russia are unavoidable and the consequences are too dear to accept. For the sheer amount of enormous energy needed for Green Energy for Electricity Initiative (GENEI), from a safety point of view, Solar Stirling Engine System utility wins hands down over other renewable energy choices. California has voted for Stirling Engines from expert experience and is moving ahead. Since the accident at Three Mile Island over thirty years ago, the US has consistently delayed building nuclear power plants. That is very responsible and to be commended. I was one time the China country representative of Combustion Engineering for the sales of moth-balled Tennessee Valley Nuclear power plants. The nightmares of TMI and Chernobyl still haunt me. The cost of disposal of spent fuel and its adverse effect of long lasting radioactivity on nature and mankind is well known. No nuclear power plant is permanent. The eventual need to tear down old dilapidated nuclear power plant for safety has also never been adequately addressed. After the unprecedented severe Sichaun earth quakes, the construction of huge hydro power plants such as the three Gorges anywhere in the world will be most likely put off for a long time if not forever. Medium and small size hydropower stations are better alternatives. Aside from the fact that Solar Stirling Engine for electricity generation is non polluting and renewable, the final merit is the economic pay back of its low life cycle cost due to ease of manufacturing and maintenance of the engine. Solar Stirling Engine systems
have long life cycle and do not require the many additional ancillary accessories as diesel and steam engines. In a Solar Stirling Engine System the working gas is permanently and hermetically sealed. There is no replacement or treatment necessary of the working gas in the life cycle of the engine as is required in steam and internal combustion engines. In conclusion, as a national and local GENEI policy to reduce environmental pollution, to steer away from long term radioactive degradation of the earth, and to reduce national financial burden, all point to the choice of using Solar Stirling Engine Systems as the most viable solution. Large Stirling Engine power plants can be incrementally added in small modular units. They are much more thermally efficient than Solar voltaic panels. The recommendation of using Stirling Engine alternative for GENEI policy is based on my over two decades of experience as a practitioner of international Solar Stirling Engine technology transfer. The US oil imports is 24% in the 1970’s and 42% in the 1990’s. Today we import 70% of our oil and at a staggering cost of $700 Billion. This increasing trend and heavy cost are absolutely unsustainable. It is imperative for us to support Al Gore’s recommendations and advocate GENEI policy as a national priority. To play a responsible role as the leader of the world, the US must also set an example in her renewable energy policy. Other major fossil fuel consuming nations such as China and India will inevitably follow. With ample evidence as discussed here, not to include the Solar Engine Systems for consideration as a major part of US GENEI imperative is unconscionable. Financially the US will be the biggest energy technology transfer nation in world history and the beneficiary thereof. In fact the US is already ahead of the world in Solar Stirling Engine technology. The GENEI policy will put US so far ahead in Solar Stirling system manufacturing that the world will be hard put to catch up. The potential export of Solar Stirling Engine systems to meet the pent up demand for rest of the world will be a great stimulus to the US sagging economy. Together with the reduction in oil imports, the US trade deficit can be significantly reversed. The summation of total reduction of oil imports as the world follows our GENEI imperative will no doubt instantly halt the oil price speculation. It will not be surprising that a world concerted GENEI effort will instantly drive the oil price down by more than half. Our next president must show the vision and leadership to endorse Al Gore’s recommendations and implement the GENEI imperative as our energy independence policy. Yours humbly is available for consultation by invitation from relevant national energy implementation departments and local government heads.
THE FUTURE OF STIRLING ENGINE IN TRANSPORTATION The future of Stirling engine in environmental protection and energy independence goes beyond large and small scale electricity generation for green energy electricity initiatives world wide, as well as appropriate technology energy and productive power use in developing countries as detailed above. Because of its omnivorous fuel adaptability it could have unique advantages in many transportation applications. For example most trains and trucks can use clean burning biogas and natural gas where green electricity is not readily available or it is not cost effective to lay tracks and electric power. Most of all as oil prices continue to climb; commercial airliners will be unprofitable to operate. We will see more commercial airlines in the US fail. As the living standard of China and India continue to rise the price of oil will sure double soon. Currently per capital oil consumption in the US is 10 times more than those countries averaged. This will encourage the growth of fast large ships to replace cross ocean commercial airlines. One approach is to develop large Surface Effect Ships (SES) to move large volumes of trade goods and keep up the traffic demand of international travelers. Fast large SES with speed upwards above 200 miles is technically possible with light weight material in the future. This way, ocean cruises from California to the orient can be a comfortable slightly more than one day and one night. Cross Atlantic cruises can be less than one day and one night. When that becomes a reality, few would still want to fly to the orient or Europe on a crammed flight. Please refer to SES articles authored by Eugene Liberator in Jane’s Ship. During the early 1980’s, Dr. Gabriel Bohler, Eugene Liberator both SES specialists and I was working as pioneers in large SES designs at Aerophysics Company. We had a US$ 50 million Navy contract to proceed under President Carter’s energy conservation initiative. We were designing hybrid Solar and wind power combined Stirling engine SES ocean liners. When there is sun the solar collectors will focus thermal heat on to the Stirling engines, when wind is on course, the solar collector dishes can be turned to act as sails to catch the wind. Or a balance of both solar and wind power can be combined for maximum economy.
Airplanes are inherently uneconomical for travel when fast SES ships are available. Unfortunately, when Regan became President, our SES project was sacrificed and project funding zeroed out in favor of star war funding. For sustainable development and harmony with nature, one cannot emphasize more the importance of these types of large and fast hybrid solar and wind powered SES to eventually replace cross ocean commercial airlines.
THE PROMISING FUTURE OF STIRLING ENGINE IN CHINA
INTRODUCTION Stirling engines are externally continuous burning engines as opposed to internal combustion engines with synchronized intermittent ignition. Stirling engines operate on a closed thermodynamic regenerative cycle with a gaseous working medium. Air is a preferred working fluid for low speed engines because of its availability, although higher power density and higher speed can be obtained through the use of lighter gases such as helium and hydrogen. The working fluid is cyclically compressed and expanded at different temperature levels so there is a net conversion of heat to work. Any source of external heat may be utilized as substitutes for the precious and dwindling liquid petroleum. During the early 1900’s, thousands of very low efficiency Stirling engines were working in Europe. Today, modern Stirling engines are made with typically very high thermal efficiencies. The Stirling engine was originally conceived by Robert Stirling, in its early form incorporating the thermal regenerator in 1815. Although Stirling was never extensively involved in its commercialization, thousands of hot air Stirling engines were built during the early 1900’s for all manners of pumping and similarly rural applications. [Ref. 1] However, the advent of the cheap petroleum era in the 19 th and 20th centuries ushered in the internal combustion engine and brought an untimely pause in Stirling engine refinement and development, but not for long. Due to a sudden realization of the world’s depleting petroleum resources brought on by the oil crisis during the 1970’s, the Stirling engine is beckoning s more sophisticated and energy conscious world. It’s most noteworthy virtue is the ability to utilize any kind of external heat source as power, with our without combustion. Thus, its source of power can include biomass, solar, waste heat, gas, as well as liquid fuel, to name some commonly available sources. Other Stirling engine virtues worthy of note are: High thermal efficiency of 30 to 40% by current technology is achieved. Temperature and pressure design requirements are flexible for different applications 6
because power does not come from synchronized combustion, but from a continuous heat source. The working medium stays clean without direct contact with the heat source. There is low pollution due to continuous burning characteristics when liquid fossil fuels are used. In the free piston configuration, with linear generator combination, the total package can be hermetically sealed to be free of outside environmental contamination. In short, the modern Stirling engine is highly efficient, omnivorous, adaptable to different levels of technology, amenable to long life and easy maintenance design, independent of outside environmental contamination, and low polluting to the outside environment. In this world of constant evolution, there is much to be said about the humble traits of flexible and adaptable species, be they biological or mechanical. Today, there are firm convictions among informed scientific and engineering circles in the West that; ‘whereas the 19th century belonged to the steam engine, and the 20 th century to the internal combustion engine, the 21st century will belong to the Stirling engine.’ [Ref 1] In view of China’s goals of four modernizations and of quadrupling its industrial and agricultural production by 2000 [Ref. 2], the need to improve all energy utilization efficiency across the nation and to use coal as petroleum substitute is very compelling. These needs, to conserve energy by science and technology, and to consider alternate fuels, have been eloquently discussed by many influential Chinese including Wu [Ref. 3]. Although the broad based interest in Stirling engines is yet to materialize, the future of Stirling engines in China is bright because of its many inherent virtues and the above compelling needs. Presently, many leading Stirling advocates in the West, including Beale [Ref. 4], believe that the Stirling engine is particularly suited for wide spread use as an “appropriate technology” in the third world. The term, “appropriate technology”, is an apt description for the Stirling engine here because it is able to use locally available forms of energy, can be manufactured and maintained by indigenous technology, comes in small and medium sizes to suit rural needs, and still maintains high thermal efficiency. [Ref. 5] If necessity is indeed the mother of invention, China will no doubt play an important role in the world development of the Stirling engine applications in the near future. Additionally, considering China’s relatively advanced machine building capability, the availability of vast manpower and materials, and the need for science and technology to serve the economy, [Ref. 6] it can be predicted with reasonable certainty that China will become one of the major world Stirling engine manufacturing centers. Considering the large third world market, China needs to stay ahead in all phases of Stirling engine technology so as to not loose this important export market to another advanced or third world country. RECENT IMPORTANT STIRLING ENGINE DEVELOPMENTS IN THE WEST Stirling engines come in many configurations, mechanical arrangements, and sizes. Within the scope and intent of the present paper, it is not possible to go into an unnecessarily lengthy description of the principles and developments of the whole spectrum of existing Stirling engines. Instead, the reader is referred to the 1980 book by Walker [Ref. 7] on the many splendid past accomplishments.
Any mention of Stirling engine development in the West must necessarily include the unrelenting and impressive developmental efforts by Phillips of Holland to increase its efficiency and power density. These increases were accomplished through the increase of mean working pressure, better designed regenerator, and switching from air to helium as a working medium. The recent flourishing of world wide Stirling engine efforts was brought on by the 1973 oil crisis to seek energy alternatives. Despite the considerable efforts and its many inherent virtues, the modern, high efficiency Stirling engine has yet to live up to its potential. In retrospect, the belated coming of the new Stirling engine age is due mainly to the inappropriate market development emphasis by the West in the recent past. [Ref. 8] Instead of seeking the vast territory of appropriate technology where the internal combustion engine, with many of its limitation , cannot tread, major efforts have been spent on applications to dislodge the competition from established turf. Examples of appropriate technology applications, excluding the internal combustion engine, include the following. Free piston Stirling engines with thermal efficiencies of 30 to 40% can use multifuels [Ref. 9]. Low technology, hot air engines with overall 20% or better thermal efficiency utilizing biomass fuel, can be simple to construct and easy to maintain. [Ref10] Duplex Stirling engines can liquefy two parts of methane gas by consuming only one part methane gas as heat energy. [Ref. 11, 12, 13] Large bored hot air engines with a thermal efficiency in the range of 25 to 30% can use coal directly for transportation in coal-rich developing countries. One of the outstanding examples of disproportionate marketing emphasis is the considerable (and many independent) in the U.S. to transfer European technology to the U.S. for automobile applications resulting in oil-fired, highly efficient and sophisticated Stirling engines using helium, instead of air as a working medium. [Ref. 14] Because of this classical case of disregard of vested interest, economics, human psychology, and unnecessary technological overkill, this expensive project is not likely to lead to any success soon. Although the technology transferred to the U.S. is not totally in vain, the advent of the useful Stirling age, with broad benefits to mankind, is delayed by at least ten years. On the other hand, if the same efforts were directed towards Stirling engine Applications in easily implemented, appropriate technologies, the world would be now benefiting from the efforts, and many advantages of the Stirling engine would be clearly demonstrated to the world and to China especially.
THE MOST PROMISING STIRLING ENGINE APPLICATIONS IN CHINA Appropriate Stirling engine applications can only be limited by one’s own imagination. The Stirling cycle lends itself to a multitude of physical forms, some of which are simple and effective, and thus are strong candidates to help China by using locally available fuels. Examples of the most likely applications for China, in order of likelihood of success are: 1) Simple, low pressure, modern hot air Stirling engines in the 5 – 20 kw range [Ref. 10]
Free-piston Stirling engines with linear electric generators in the 1 – 15 kw range [Ref. 9] 3) Portable duplex Stirling methane gas liquefiers with 1 4 kw refrigerating capacities [Ref. 11, 12, 13] 4) Large bored, low speed, coal burning Stirling engines in the 0.5 – 5 MW range [Ref. 15, 16] In the following, we shall discuss each of the above examples in terms of technical features, engineering merits, and specific appropriate applications.
SIMPLE, MODERN, HOT AIR STIRLING ENGINES In reference 14 a modern low pressure hot air Stirling engine producing 4 kw of shaft power is designed for the Asia foundation and funded through the U.S. Agency for International Development. The objective of the project is to design a rice husk fired engine that can be produced by low technology applications utilizing locally available biomass fuel, but not requiring high power density, a modern Stirling engine can be simple, efficient, and easy to maintain. The efficiency of properly optimized Stirling engines and independent of working gas. Although the introduction of lighter gases allows higher operating speed thus results in higher power density. [Ref 14] In the Chinese countryside, where the call to modernize is urgent, and the availability of scarce petroleum fuel is almost nonexistent for the average farmer, the development of simple modern Stirling engines cannot afford not to be mandatory. [Ref. 17] The main specifications of the 4 kw Asia Foundation Stirling engine are: moderate efficiency (15%) relatively large displacement (7 litres), low speed (720 rpm), and low mean cycle pressure (4.5 bar). For the benefit of the technologically unsophisticated countryside, this engine is designed to be dry lubricated. Thus, it does not require periodic oil changes. In addition, being a Stirling engine, it requires neither the electronic ignition system for the carburetion system. Therefore, it is extremely adaptable to severe cold or hot climates. Also, in remote cold areas, where diesel fuel is not readily available and where biomass cannot produce methane gas, this is the best candidate for mechanization. Besides using locally available biomass fuel, modern simple Stirling engines do not require sophisticated training to operate and maintain. The thermal energy to run the engines can come from specially designed or modified indigenous furnaces familiar to the natives on the farm. The objective is: “If one can cook with a stove, one can also operate a simple Stirling engine.” Of course, China may eventually use high efficiency Stirling engines to mechanize the vast countryside. The fuel utilization efficiency can also be further improved if the furnace heat is also used to perform other low temperature heating, drying, or cooking processes besides running the Stirling engine in a combined, efficient, total energy system. However, the simple Stirling engine with moderate efficiency of 20% or better is economical, has a short developmental time, and can be easily manufactured by small rural industries. The improvement towards more expensive high efficiency rural Stirling engines can be introduced in steps. Early implementation of Stirling engines for farm use can enhance China’s image as a leading exporter of Stirling engine technology to the third world in the future. The need for simple Stirling engines using biomass in the third world is currently even more acute than in China. China is not in a more advanced technological position to supply parts of the third world. She cannot afford to lose these opportunities to earn State revenue through exports now, or in the future. Finally, the existence of the Stirling engine is totally unknown to the vast majority of the Chinese. Early introduction of one form of Stirling engine can pave the way for the successful introduction of many forms of appropriate Stirling engines in the future. In the penetration of international technological export markets, time is of the essence. Early loss of leadership may never to be regained again in the eyes of the third
world. Now is a good time to catch up in all phases of Stirling engine technology while the West is still willing to share. It may become too late soon, as the west is now beginning to cooperate with other third world countries with low labor costs as partners in producing various Stirling engines for export at an affordable price.
FREE PISTON STIRLING ENGINES WITH LINEAR ELECTRIC GENERATION The last ten years saw a great upsurge of Stirling engine research and development effort as evidenced by the number of papers published yearly in the proceedings of the Intersociety Energy Conversion Engineering Conference (IECEC). Of these publications, an increasingly larger percentage is being directed toward the free piston Stirling engine. This is due to its absence of critical seals and mechanical simplicity, making it a favored form for many applications including rural electric generation. Small free piston Stirling engines with linear generators in the 1 – 5 kw ranges have been built in the U.S. with thermal efficiencies ranging 30 – 35%. [Ref. 9] When optimized for production, thermal efficiencies are expected to reach 40%. Some of these small generators, suitable for space or remote area applications, are designed to be powered by solar collection. In this free piston form, the Stirling engine generator has additional advangages to the rural user unmatched by conventional internal combustion engines. These special advantages are: - can have a long life with only three moving parts - absence of lateral mechanical forces so gas bearing can be used throughout - portable because of the high power density and integral design - free of any accessories because there is no need for lubrication, carburetion, and ignition systems - the whole apparatus, including the generator can be hermetically sealed to be independent of environment and avoid unskilled tampering. Because of the above advantages, the free piston Stirling engine generator is ideal for the countryside where it can get into unskilled hands, be subjected to hostile environmental conditions such as heavy dust and moisture, be expected to work long and hard, and yet the only maintenance routine is more likely than not to be the famous kick so often employed to revive a neglected machine. So, in this form, the Stirling engine can come close to a permanently sealed, maintenance free, life long package. In operation, the farmer need only attend to his biomass furnace which is by habit more in his domain. In the opposite spectrum, paradoxically, all the above niceties plus the dead silent operation feature, the free piston engine generation also as a most sophisticated military portable generator. [Ref. 18] PORTABLE DUPLEX STIRLING METHANE GAS LIQUEFIER
Biomass, including firewood, farm residues, and secretions by humans and animals, is an abundant supply of urual energy in China [Ref. 3]. Conversion of biomass to methane gas is an efficient way of utilization without the attending polluting effect of direct burning. This is because methane gas is the cleanest fuel humans can devise, as well as being produced by nature. Additionally, by converting biomass to methane, one also eliminates the waste disposal problem and yields improved fertilizer simultaneously. Furthermore, in the industrially advanced countries, liquefied methane is also now used as a high grade fuel, substituting for liquid petroleum for vehicular use. Modified vehicle carburetors and insulated storage tanks for this conversion are now available off the shelf. If methane from biomass can be liquefied on the farm efficiently by portable and self contained liquefier for ease of storage and transportation then its use can be significantly more widespread in China. Liquefaction will encourage not only larger and more production wells, but also increased production during the warm seasons. Because liquefied methane, besides used for heating and cooking, can find wider uses such as running farm vehicles and machines. It can also be traded and transported to where it is most needed. Waste is eliminated. This can herald the beginning of true rural energy independence. Thus the development of a portable, self contained, rural methane liquefier which does not require electricity or liquid petroleum to run, is an important and urgent task. Current state of the art technology suggests the ideal solution to be in the form of a Duplex Stirling Cycle machine. Since the Stirling Cycle is reversible, it can produce power when heat is added, and can refrigerate when work is applied. This duplex configuration is a small, free-piston mover coupled directly to a small, free-piston Stirling liquefier. It is compact, self-starting, requires no electronic or carburetion system accessories. It is simple to operate with only three or four moving parts. It can be hermetically sealed to be free of maintenance or any adjustments. The technology of small, free-piston Stirling cycle cryocoolers to liquefy nitrogen or helium is well established in the West for the defense industry. In the U.S., they are produced by the thousands as the key dependable components for night vision and infrared guidance sensor cooling. Stirling cryocoolers for methane liquefaction is a relatively simple application. Preliminary design study shows that they can be made in wide ranging sizes from a few liter per hour liquefaction capacity to a capacity handling as much as any farm methane well. Conservatively calculated liquefaction efficiencies for units with 4 to 200 liter/hour capacities are 200%. In other words, only one-third of the methane gas would be consumed in combustion to liquefy the remaining two-thirds. As a liquefaction process to produce petroleum fuel substitute, this 200% efficiency is unsurpassed by large scale industrial plants. LARGE BORED, LOW SPEED, COAL BURNING STIRLING ENGINES In an article (to be published in the Transaction of Chinese Society of Internal Combustion Engine), titled “Large Coal-fired Stirling Engines – Speculations for Future Development”, Walker argues convincingly for the future use of large bored Stirling
engines in China [Ref. 16]. “The large and increasing cost differential in the price of oil and coal coupled with the relative abundance of coal deposits in China for future development, signals the end of oil as the primary fuel and a return to a coal based economy. The coal may be processed to produce synthetic oil, but direct use of the coal appears preferable.” “For powers in the range of 0.5 to 5 MW, the Stirling engine can be substantially more efficient than turbines and noncondensing multiple expansion reciprocating steam engines, utilize robust components, be comparatively easy and cheap to manufacture, and operate for long periods with nothing more than routine maintenance. It can do this with air as the working fluid and water as the lubricant.” “Typical steam locomotive efficiencies of 8% overall could likely be elevated with Stirling engine locomotives to 20% or better with consequent dramatic decrease in coal consumption.” “Most likely applications for Stirling engines in this power range are for stationary electric power generation, railway locomotives, marine propulsion, and large off-highway vehicles used in mining, forestry, and agriculture. In these applications, the engines use hot air as a working medium. Low grade coal can be used in an atmospheric pressure fluidized bed combuster with two stage sodium heat pipes for thermal transport to the engine cylinder heat.” CONCLUSIONS Stirling engines are appropriate technologies that must be developed by China in her four modernization drive. They can provide mechanical power and electricity by utilizing efficiently any locally available energy sources. They can relieve the farmers of backbreaking labor by serving as a low cost alternative to the diesel engine. They can electrify the remote and inaccessible rural areas without the need of a large scale capital investment and massive user training programs. They can help shape rural energy independence as efficient, self contained, portable methane gas liquefiers. They can enable the Chinese rail and marine transportation to switch to coal base with efficiencies almost three times as high as conventional steam engines. Finally, the Stirling cycle cryocooler is a key component in the most up to date weaponry, and the unique qualities of the free piston Stirling generator make it the near-perfect military portable generator.
REFERENCES 1. 2. 3. Walker, G., Free-Piston Stirling Engines, University of Calgary, 1982 Hu, Y. Create a New Situation in All fields of Socialist Modernization, Report to the 12th National Congress, September 1, 1982 Wu, Z.H., China’s Energy Problem and Its Solution by Science and Technology, First U.S.-China Energy, Resources, and Environment Conference, November 12, 1982
4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.
Beale, W., Stirling Engines for Developing Countries, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Energy for Rural Development, 1981 Gordon, T., Free Piston Stirling Engines Increase Solar/Thermal Efficiency, International Power Generation, July, 1979 Zhao, Z., A Strategic Question on Invigorating the Economy, National Science Awards Conference, Oct. 24, 1982 Walker, G., Stirling Engines, Oxford University Press, 1980 Beale, W., Private Communication, October, 1982 Goldwater, B., Current Free-Piston Stirling Engine Technology and Applications, IECEC Conference, 1979 Wood, G., Design of a Low Pressure Air Engine for Third World Use, IECEC Conference, August 1982 Walker, G., Thermally Activated Stirling Cryocooler, International Cryogenic Engineering, May 1982 Berchowitz, D., The Design, Development and Performance of a Duplex Stirling Natural Gas Liquefier, IECEC Conference 1982 Fung, F., Free Piston Methane Gas Liquefier, Presented at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Engineering Thermophysics, August 1982 Martini, W., Stirling Engine Design Manual, Martini Engineering, May 1980 Walker, G., Coal Fired Stirling Engines for Railway Locomotive and Stationary Power Applications, Institute of Mechanical Engineers, England, November 1982 Walker, G., Large Coal Fired Stirling Engines – Speculations for Future Development, Transactions of the Chinese Society for Internal Combustion Engines, November, 1982 Anonymous, Modernization of Rural China, China Daily, November 20, 1982 Marusak, T., Evaluation of Requirements for Militarization of 3-kw FreePiston Stirling Engine Generator Set, M.T.I., Latham, N.Y. 1982
In Service of Stirling Engine Renaissance Francis C W Fung, PH.D. General Partner Stirling Engine Renaissance Partnership (SERP)
Capacity: 500 MW with expansion option to 850 MW 20,000 - 34,000 solar dish Stirling systems
Phase 1 of this project is to develop 500 MW of electricity generating capacity, which will then be followed by Phase 2, which will involve an expansion up to 850 MW of generating capacity. Power output from this facility will be sold in accordance with a 20-year power purchase agreement to Southern California Edison Company (www.sce.com), a subsidiary of Edison International.
The project site for Solar Two is located in Imperial County in Southern
• • •
Capacity: 300 MW with expansion options to 900 MW 12,000 - 36,000 solar dish Stirling systems 20-Year Power Purchase Agreement
Phase 1 of this site will consist of 12,000 solar dish Stirling systems that will be capable of generating 300 MW of electrical power. Phase 2 of this will expand the number of solar dish Stirling systems to 36,000 units, which will be capable of generating up to 900 MW of power. The power generated at this site will be sold in accordance with a 20-year power purchase agreement to San Diego Gas & Electric (www.sdge.com).
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