Just playing


Senior Member
Is that a Stirling engine?

I'm fascinated by them. From the very moment I figured out how they work, I have insisted that they should be used more widely for all kinds of power solutions. I believe NASA have used them in space. I wonder if they have tried nano-engineering a bunch of Stirling engines onto a silicon wafer.

Just a test:

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Senior Member
yes ye old stirling engine is a facinating piece of machinery,
it's used for suppling power in some of te third world countries as they can pretty much use any type of fuel short of explosive,

it's a pretty good school project to do

i remember a couple of years back a bloke used one to charge a battery bank using heat from a solar heater on a roof with engine oil being circulated


Senior Member
However, before you get too carried away with Stirling engines, the picture seems to be of a simple oscillating steam engine. (Very pretty, though)
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New Member
Stirling engines are beautiful things. I've got one and I run it from time to time. They certainly spin very nicely from a small burner or even the heat of a computer monitor. It is a real pity that they are not going to 'save the world' as they are not as efficient as internal combustion engines, in terms of $/watt and watts/Kg of engine and watts/Kg of fuel burnt. Also, they don't have much in common with the Carnot cycle even though descriptions of Stirling engines usually start off with a description of the Carnot cycle. The Diesel cycle is more efficient, though not nearly so mechanically beautiful.

For anyone curious how they work, get one and have a play. And then get out a physics book and study the thermodynamics as it is an absolutely fascinating subject.

One day I am going to try to build a Carnot engine - mainly because the physics books say it can't be done. It would need complex microcontroller control which very neatly makes this thread *picaxe related*!


Senior Member
It's a steam engine the attached however is a stirling engine as I also have a bit of a thing about them. It seems several car manufacturers including Volvo and Ford have invested much mony in research but as yet no production models.

To make this a Picaxe thread - before Dippy thrown it out [:)] I have an idea for a boat engine on the stirling principle but using water as the piston so there are no seal issues and driving the displacer with a motor controlled by picaxe. the intention there is the picaxe provided speed control of the main motor and the stirling part drives a sort of water ram jet to power the boat.

Seems it might just work.