Stirling engines have two pistons that create a 90° phase angle and two different temperature spaces, and the working fluid is sealed within the engine. The engines can be classified as two pistons type or displacer type. The two pistons type engine has two power pistons, and the displacer type has one power piston and a displacer piston, which serves to control when the gas chamber is heated and when it is cooled. When the fluid in the cylinder is heated it expands, forcing the power piston to move and transfer the fluid to a cold region for cooling. It is then recompressed and transferred to the hot region to start the cycle again.
Because the fluids used inside a Stirling engine never leave the engine, and because the engine is not powered by explosive combustion, as in a gasoline or diesel engine, there are no exhaust valves that vent high-pressure fluids. As a result, Stirling engines are very quiet and can be used in specialized applications, such as submarines or auxiliary power generators, where quiet operation is important.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Technology: Terms and Concepts
Browse by Subject
- Earth and the Environment +-
- History +-
- Literature and the Arts +-
- Medicine +-
- People +-
- Philosophy and Religion +-
- Places +-
- Australia and Oceania
- Britain, Ireland, France, and the Low Countries
- Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic Nations
- Germany, Scandinavia, and Central Europe
- Latin America and the Caribbean
- Oceans, Continents, and Polar Regions
- Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and the Balkans
- United States, Canada, and Greenland
- Plants and Animals +-
- Science and Technology +-
- Social Sciences and the Law +-
- Sports and Everyday Life +-