Stirling engines are classified into three types of engines, which include the Alpha Stirling engine, the Beta Stirling engine, and the Gamma Stirling engine. The alpha Stirling is comprised of two power pistons in separate cylinders. The first piston , referred to as the hot piston, and is situated inside the higher temperature heat exchanger. The second piston is a cold piston, and it is situated inside the low temperature heat exchanger. Beta Stirling engines are comprised of a single power piston which is situated within the same cylinder, and on the same shaft as the displacer piston. The displacer piston is a loosely fitted piston, and it’s primary role is to shuttle the working gas from the hot heat exchanger to the cold heat exchanger. The gamma Stirling engines are very similar to the beta Stirling, however in this set up, the power piston is mounted in a separate cylinder alongside the displacer piston cylinder, with both pistons still being connected to the same flywheel. The gas in the two cylinders can flow freely between them and remains a single body. Of the three engines listed above, it was observed that the Beta Stirling engine was utilized for this experimental procedure. Reason being that the configuration setup in the lab was a single cylinder system, whereby the power piston and the displacer piston were in the same cylinder.
There exists a number of different reasons as to why stirling engines aren’t readily seen in real world applications. The primary disadvantage of these engines, in particular in automotive applications, is in their mechanical makeup. Stirling engines require an external heat source, this in turn causes them to require a substantial amount of time (approximately 20-30 mins) before the engine responds to changes in the amount of heat being applied to the cylinder. As a result any automobile which is equipped with this type of engine will require time to warm up before it can produce drivable power. Although these engines are classified as being very efficient engines, the above stated drawback is enough for typical internal combustion engines to be more widely used and accepted. Additionally, the different types of Stirling engines, which were previously stated, have their own short comings. The Alpha engine, although it has a very high power to volume ratio, the high temperature of the hot piston substantially compromises the durability of its seals.
Despite the many disadvantages attached to the stirling engine, a number of real world applications are still utilized. These engines are used in satellites, as a means of energy generation. This is in fact a very efficient means of energy generation due to the large differences in temperature. radioactive isotopes are used to make up the hot portion of the engine. Stirling energies are also used as a means of electricity generation, in particular areas of harsh environments, such as deserts. Reflective dishes are used to concentrate sunbeams in only one point. The focus of the dish where you install the Stirling engine. This allows energy to be generated without the need for fuel, also these stirling systems are more electricity generation in comparison to solar panels, which have a poor performance, of approximately 15%. Therefore, at equal power, their surface is larger than reflectors of a Stirling engine.
Throughout the investigation, a number of sources of errors were observed and experienced during the experimental procedure. When filling the water in the test tube, it was observed that leftover water droplets were present in the tube. These droplets would have increased the volume of the water poured into the test tube. As a result the exact volume of the water present in the test tube was not accurately known. To increase the accuracy of this investigation, the experimenter should properly rinse the test tube before filling it with the fluid to be tested, in order to reduce the impurities present in the tube, which would in turn lead to contamination of the sample.