For my project I am creating an operational Stirling Motor that will run off of a small lit candle as the heat source. The Stirling Motor runs fundamentally off of a heat differential between the top of the cylinder and the bottom of the cylinder and the cyclical expansion and contraction of air inside of the cylinder. Inside of the cylinder there is a displacement piston that is joined to the crankshaft to keep it timed with the power piston.
Stirling engines are very interesting as they are extremely efficient and can run off of a relatively small thermal difference. For my project I wanted to build one as I was fascinated with its simplicity yet the challenge to make one that runs well. I wanted to use the output shaft work for something useful, a bit more than just a spinning rod. At this juncture I am still unaware what I will use the useful work for, however construction and design for the Stirling motor can continue.
Due to limited access to the machine shop, equipment, tools and other materials I am going to resort to making it out of cheaper materials that can be acquired more easily. I plan to make the main cylinder out of a tin today cans, or other cans from food items. I will get foam or steel wool for the displacement cylinder from local stores, and rigid wire and rubber from arts and craft stores or home depot. Linkages will be made from the wire, or scrape pieces of wood or Popsicle sticks.
I will paint all components and make sure that there is an aesthetic theme to the overall project, rather than having all of these different color schemes going on at once. I most likely will do silver/bronze/black for an “industrial” or “steampunk” aesthetic.
I plan to begin prototyping with basic materials and will shoot to get one cylinder operational before I try to make a more complicated crankshaft and time 3 piston – cylinder devices all together. Once I get the prototype working I can then begin to implement all 3 together and create the housing structure for all 3 motors.
My plan is to begin prototyping the first cylinder by Monday (3/16) and try to get a working motor by the end of that week. After spring break my plan is to make 2 more motors, a housing structure, and crankshaft to time all of them together. Once I have successfully implemented all of the motors I will then see if it is reasonable to try and hook to the motor up to do something useful which will be a challenge in itself!