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Sterling Engines in space

  1. Aug 3, 2011 #1
    The temp. difference in sunlight and shade in space is quite large and so my thoughts are can one run a sterling engine in space to produce electricity.. ? .. Any thoughts?.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_engine

    some videos of it on youtube as well...

    cheers
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2011 #2
    A thermal engine would be far more efficient on a spacecraft than Solar cells.

    It has drawbacks as well, especially as it gives vibrations to the spacecraft. Also, it relies on a fluid, which introduces failure modes.

    As for Stirling engines, they have essentially drawbacks. A turbine is far better in any aspect.

    Here a description of such a Solar electricity generator for spacecraft, including the Sunlight concentrator, the spillway, and other uses of a similar hardware to produce cold and store cryogenic propellants indefinitely:
    http://saposjoint.net/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=2051
    but you'll have to be logged in to see the drawings, alas. Not my website, and the owner changed that recently.

    Also, Nasa-sponsored projects want to use Stirling engines to convert heat from radioisotopes into electricity on spacecraft. Called an RTG, it uses thermocouples up to now; a thermal engine would be more efficient and save scarce Pu-238, but here again, a turbine is better.

    Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy
     
  4. Aug 3, 2011 #3
    Thank you very much... you have answered my question...

    Best wishes
     
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