Stirling automotive engines

Stirling engines facinate me! My understanding had been that because power was difficult to regulate, they were better suited for stationary applications. However, NASA just proved me wrong.


I have been following Stirling engines for some time, thank you for sharing this video.

Let me show you two more stirlings you may not have seen.

  1. cryogenic stirling.
  1. a Stirling engine used in real life applciation.

Fascinating! Thank you Mart…

Also, I just found a white paper for the engines depicted in the NASA video which includes technical drawings of the engines: Automotive Stirling Engine Development Project - NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)


I’ve been deep down this rabbit hole and come out the other side a Stirling doubter for anything in the DIY or commercial realm. I’m sure NASA can get them to work and for NASA the challenges of a Stirling are worth solving.

But don’t let me take the wind out of your sails. It is a fun journey. Some suggestions on “places to visit” along the way: Stirling gets more attention but I found the Ericsson cycle to be more practical though you do suffer the need for a valve (likely high speed valve) that Stirling does not need.

Ericsson engines are a little more forgiving in terms of the heat exchanger, pumping losses and dead working fluid volume, but you’ll see when you get there with Stirlings. Design-wise the math pushes hard for high pressure, high heat and high cycle rates.

Check out Lonnie Johnson’s “JTEC” heat engine. He invented the super-soaker among other things and has a fun personal story. The JTEC is a heat engine but borrowers a lot from Stirling and Fuel Cells in reaching a fully novel end. It’s worth a read. You’ll see that materials are the limiting factor for his engine just as they are for traditional Stirlings.

Philips attempted to build a practical “field deployable” portable generator in the 1950s. They were successful in the engineering for the most part but it proved a commercial flop. There is a good amount on the web about how it was designed and how it performed. I would struggle mightily to build anything similar in a home shop but your skills and ambition may be higher.


Yeah I agree there are better alternatives for the $ in verses what you get out.

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What a rabbit hole this has turned into! As of 2010, the Dodge pickup, with stirling still intact, was in storage at a NASA facility in Sandusky, Ohio.


very interesting topic…
interesting in the video from india the forge blowers…yet produced industrially there…
for gasifier starting without battery…
in india shurely cheap (for western hemisphere people) after exportation expensive also here…are existing differnt sizes…