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Top 10 Uses for a Stirling Engine

Top Ten Current Uses for a Stirling Engine

  1. Cordless hair dryer
  2. Heats homes in The Netherlands with 50-75 hp engine.
  3. Provides basic power (5 hp) in Bangladesh by burning rice husks on the hot side of the engine (Lockwood engine).
  4. Provides basic power to remote African villages by burning wood (1-5 hp Van Arsdell-Howard University engine).
  5. Power oceanographic exploration submarine for Jacques Costeau, the Saga, so his team can quietly sneak up on the fishies and the whalies.
  6. Power the quietest military submarines in the world—a 1300 hp Stirling engine drives subs in the Swedish and Danish fleets (but not in the American fleet—yet!!!).
  7. Powers a rotisserie attachment to BBQ in Tulsa, Oklahoma (The Stirling engine rotisserie is so valuable that the owner will risk life and limb to dash out into Oklahoma rain and tornadoes to rescue the rotisserie—but leaves the BBQ to fend for itself!).
  8. Powers remote scientific research stations in Antarctica, providing power to run the experiments, the telescope, and send back data to scientists in warmer locations.
  9. Provides power to homes and businesses in Las Vegas, Nevada. The heat source is a series of solar collectors.
  10. And the #1 use for a Stirling engine today ... A Cat Magnet! (Any cat within 100 yards is drawn to it!)

Top Ten Uses for a Stirling Engine in History

  1. A car: the AMC Spirit was powered by a Stirling engine in the 1970’s.
  2. Fans: from the 1880’s to 1930’s, fans were often powered by Stirling engines.
  3. Radios and rowboats. In the 1930’s, an engineer from Philips Electronics in The Netherlands found a Stirling fan at a flea market. Buying it, he adapted the engine to run a radio. Unfortunately, the transistor was invented soon after, making the more expensive Stirling radio obsolete. Deciding the project wouldn’t be in vain, the engineer took the Stirling engine and hung off the side of a row boat. Imagine the people standing along the Dutch canals wondering what was powering that rowboat with no oars in sight!
  4. As a veritable replacement for any steam engine, the Stirling engine is much safer—which is why the Reverend Robert Stirling invented it in 1816!
  5. Refrigerators and freezers: Sun Power of Athens, Ohio developed Stirling-powered refrigeration units in the 1980’s but they did not dent the market.
  6. Stirling cycle coolers generate liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen in labs all around the world. It’s a moderately priced way to do so!
  7. A yacht: Philips Electronics developed a 90 hp Stirling use for marine use.
  8. Domestic water pumps: 1870’s to 1920’s.
  9. Sewing machines: 1870’s to 1920’s.
  10. And the #1 top use for a Stirling Engine ... A Cat Magnet! Worked back then too!

Written by Kathy Bazan.
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