3D Objects, Engineering, Sustainability

Stirling Engines

You all have probably heard of the Steam Engine, right? (And chances are you have never seen it; didn’t even bother to look up an image on the internet until now.) It’s something called an external combustion engine, where fuel is burned on the outside of the engine to create steam inside it, so that the steam pushes some object to do work. It’s mostly obsolete now because internal combustion engines have replaced them, et cetera, et cetera.

While the Industrial Revolution was the most happening thing during the 18/19th century, and the Steam Engine was all the rage, there was another type of engine that was going to be the future—the Stirling Engine. But it wasn’t. End of the line for this other weird external combustion engine.

Why is it weird?

If a mister Layman asks, I would say a Stirling Engine is one which will only operate through a difference in the temperature between two points (one inside the engine, the other outside). Doesn’t matter if the point inside the engine is hot and the outside is cold, or vice versa. It will work.

I was refreshing my Solidworks knowledge and found something fun on this youtube channel where this guy assembles a Stirling Engine. It was something I had never heard of before. Naturally, it got me curious to build one. I think it may be possible to animate this one using Composer. But that’s for another time. Below is a Stirling Engine model which takes heat from the outside to work.

There are hundreds of variations of the Stirling engine, and it would seem like an ideal engine to use, as if it would run forever! It barely makes sound while operating, unlike the annoying ones we have to persevere through in the traffic. They are, however, as efficient as a Diesel engine. Some people think these engines can be made into sustainable sources of recycling heat waste, which is pretty cool for the environment.

But no, it still can’t run forever because that’ll break thermodynamics, make Carnot mad, and the universe as we know it will implode if we make Physics angry!

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