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Stirling engine

Ce site appartient au réseau de sites relatifs aux moteurs à air chaud ou moteurs à apport de chaleur externe

Stirling engine
Advantages and disadvantages

Before seeing the current and past applications, before studying the future possible applications, it seems necessary to list the advantages and the disadvantages of the Stirling engine.

The advantages :

- The silence of operation : there is no expansion in the atmosphere like in the case of an internal combustion engine, combustion is continuous outside of the cylinders. In addition, its design is such as the engine is easy to balance and generates few vibrations.
- The high efficiency : it is function of the temperatures of the hot and cold sources. As it is possible to make it work in cogeneration (mechanical and caloric powers), the overall efficiency can be very high.
- The multitude of possible “hot sources” : combustion of various gases, wood, sawdust, waste, solar or geothermic energy...
- The ecological aptitude to respond to the environmental requirements on air pollution. It is easier to achieve a complete combustion in this type of engine.
- Reliability and easy maintenance: : the technological simplicity makes it possible to have engines with a very great reliability and requiring little maintenance.
- An important lifetime because of its “rusticity”.
- The very diverse uses because of its autonomy and adaptability to the needs and the different kinds of hot sources (from mW to MW).

The disadvantages :

- The price : its cost is probably the most important problem, it is not yet competitive with other means well established. A generalization of its employment should solve this problem inherent in any novelty.
- The ignorance of this type of engine by the general public. Only a few fans know it exists. It is therefore necessary to promote it.
- The variety of models prevents standardization and, consequently, lower prices.
- The problems of sealing are difficult to solve as soon as one wishes to have high pressures of operation. The choice of “ideal” gas would be hydrogen for its lightness and its capacity to absorb the calories, but its ability to diffuse through materials is a great disadvantage.
- Heat transfers with a gas are delicate and often require bulky apparatuses.
- The lack of flexibility : the fast and effective variations of power are difficult to obtain with a Stirling engine. This one is more qualified to run with a constant nominal output. This point is a great handicap for an utilisation in car industry.

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This site was created and is maintained by Pierre Gras. Thank you with all the people who contributed their shares: articles, photographs, videos, worksheets. The author is opened with any suggestion allowing to improve this site for happiness of everybody. Finally, a big thank you to Robert Stirling !

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