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Stirling Engine Design

Warpfive Stirling Engine Generator

Find out more about Stirling engine design, who invented the Stirling engine and how Stirling engines are used today.  You can also view animated graphics of a working Stirling engine.

Stirling Engine Animation

Stirling engine animation

View animated videos showing how a Stirling engine works and how a Warpfive Stirling engine is made

Warpfive Stirling engine projects

Research & development

Click here to see some of the additional Stirling engine projects our engineers have worked on.

Stirling engine development

Industry application

Development continues – find out more about current and future Stirling engine usage.

Stirling Engine History

Stirling engine history

Find out more about who invented the Stirling engine and why

In this Stirling engine animation you will see how a Stirling engine works

How does a Stirling engine work?

A Stirling engine works by moving a sealed volume of air from the hot bottom plate to the cool top plate of the engine. As the air moves from the cool plate to the hot plate it is rapidly heated, it expands and pushes the piston up. As the air is moved from the hot plate to the cool plate it cools rapidly and contracts, this creates a vacuum which pulls the piston down. This same volume of air is rapidly heated and cooled many times per second. As the piston is connected to a crank shaft it causes the crank to rotate and this produces the mechanical power to rotate the fan blades.  Read more here

In this Stirling engine animation you will see how a Stirling engine stove fan is made

How is a Stirling engine stove fan made?

Warpfive manufacture Stirling engines which only require heat to work.  Every engine produced is precision engineered and hand built with durable materials like stainless steel, aluminium, brass and Borosilicate glass. Furthermore advanced materials (such as graphite) and low friction bearings are used to ensure low maintenance. In this video, you can see how these components are put together to build a Stirling engine stove fan.

Warpfive R&D

Our success is based on the ability to create new and compelling products, for this reason research & development is ongoing. 

We are acutely aware that a low-emission future relies heavily upon efficient thermodynamic management systems. To this end our engineers invest a lot of time examining and researching emerging technology in order to improve our products and the performance of low-emission alternative power sources.

Below you can view some of the Stirling engine and heat exchange development projects we’ve been involved with.

Warpfive 14cc water-cooled twin cylinder Gama experimental generator. The generator is pressurised to increase performance
Warpfive 14cc water-cooled twin cylinder Gama experimental generator. The generator is pressurised to increase performance
Warpfive Stirling engine heat exchanger manifold for use with liquid cooling
Warpfive Stirling engine heat exchanger manifold for use with liquid cooling
Warpfive Stirling engine prototype generator for use with alternative heat sources such as the sun
Warpfive Stirling engine prototype generator for use with alternative heat sources such as the sun
Testing of Warpfive Stirling engine generator powered by the sun using a Fresnel lens
Testing of Warpfive Stirling engine generator powered by the sun using a Fresnel lens
Close up of Warpfive Stirling engine generator cooling fan
Close up of Warpfive Stirling engine generator cooling fan
FLIR image of heat transfer within a Stirling engine indicating areas of high and low temperature
FLIR image of heat transfer within a Stirling engine indicating areas of high and low temperature
Warpfive heat exchanger development for use with alternative energy sources
Warpfive heat exchanger development for use with alternative energy sources
Machined aluminium heat exchanger. Heat exchangers are critical in the development of Stirling engines and alternative energy powered engines
Machined aluminium heat exchanger. Heat exchangers are critical in the development of Stirling engines and alternative energy powered engines
Warpfive prototype Stirling engine generator – finned, water-cooled design and built to optimise thermodynamics
Warpfive prototype Stirling engine generator – finned, water-cooled design and built to optimise thermodynamics
Warpfive experimental single cylinder Stirling engine air-cooled generator
Warpfive experimental single cylinder Stirling engine air-cooled generator
Warpfive compact Stirling engine under test using a Fresnel lens and sun tracking
Warpfive compact Stirling engine under test using a Fresnel lens and sun tracking
Warpfive 14cc water-cooled twin cylinder Gama experimental generator powered by camping gas through an annular burner for off-grid use
Warpfive 14cc water-cooled twin cylinder Gama experimental generator powered by camping gas through an annular burner for off-grid use
Prototype generator powered by camping gas, charging a mobile phone

Development continues

The Stirling engine is noted for its high efficiency, quiet operation, and the ease with which it can use almost any heat source. This compatibility with alternative and renewable energy sources has become increasingly significant as the price of conventional fuels rises. The Stirling engine is currently exciting interest as the core component of solar powered electricity generators, as well as in the space industry to power satellites.

Solar Powered Stirling Engine. The mirror array tracks the sun and focuses all of the heat onto the Stirling engine
Solar Powered Stirling Engine. The mirror array tracks the sun and focuses all of the heat onto the Stirling engine
Diagram shows various components of a solar powered Stirling engine
Diagram shows various components of a solar powered Stirling engine

Since the Stirling engine is efficient, produces less pollution than most other kinds of engines, and operate on virtually any kind of fuel, efforts have been made intermittently since the late 1930s to reduce its manufacturing costs. Modern versions of the Stirling engine employ pressurized hydrogen or helium instead of air. Since the 1970s the engine has been adapted for many uses, including cryogenic refrigeration, submarine propulsion, and electrical production.

Stirling Engine History

Stirling engine history – Robert Stirling 

Reverend Robert Stirling of Scotland invented the Stirling engine in 1816. 

During that period many of the early high-pressure steam boilers exploded because of poor materials and faulty methods of construction. The resultant casualties and property losses motivated Stirling to invent a power cycle that operated without a high-pressure boiler. In his engine (patented in 1816), air was heated by external combustion through a heat exchanger and then was displaced, compressed, and expanded by two pistons. Stirling also conceived the idea of a regenerator to store thermal energy during part of the cycle and then return this energy to the working fluid.

His company manufactured engines from 1818 to 1922, during which time they were used to pump water on farms and to generate electricity.

Stirling received additional patents in 1827 and 1840 for improvements in the design of his engine. He was made a posthumous inductee to the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame in 2014.