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Karen Crane
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Anyone got plans and built the Stirling engine?
I bought the plans but would like to know if anyone has built one?
Anyone know if they work as I've heard?
Would like to find someone who has built one.
 
Shane McKenna
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Location: Utah
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What kind of stirling engine plans did you buy?

I have engineered many stirling engines and consulted on commercial stirling engine designs. Yes stirling engines work, and even poorly designed stirling engines are usually capable of operating at a demonstrational level. If the question is, will they work to produce usable power, yes, if you have at least 50K and an incredible machine and welding shop, and a solid design. The tolerances, and fabrication required to get to an engine with "usable" power is way beyond the diy level. Stirlings are my passion, I hope you also become passionate about them and help push the technology forward. Good luck!
 
Karen Crane
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Thanks for the information.
No I do Not have anywhere near $50K...
maybe 50 cents...(haha)
So looks lie my dream os using it to provide ALL
my electric needs is not going to come true!
So sad...I had such high hopes.
I had read about a couple who had one built by
a guy in Wisconsin and they paid about $400.
Dont know how good it will be. They bought land
in Vermont so have long hard winters.
Just interested in a better way to get electric power.
Not a fan of batteries, inverters, etc.
 
Shane McKenna
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I would be interested in seeing the plans. Where did you buy them from?
 
Karen Crane
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I bought the plans from
www.solarstirlingpowerplant.com
Dont remember what I paid for it.
 
Shane McKenna
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When I see the kind of advertising that Solar Stirling Plant does, I know it is a scam. To portray legitimacy, they get affiliates to create hundreds of blog posts to distribute their BS for a cut of the action. I have seen this stirling design before, but under a different name. In the photos it looked to be around a 5 to 6 ft dish (of the machine I researched before).

The dish is way to small to generate the power they are claiming, since the BTU is about 6160sqft at the equator, and the worlds record for stirling efficiency is around 32%. This would give a "perfectly" reflective parabolic dish of 5ft in diameter a whopping power output of about 570 watts, under ideal conditions. You could not run a fridge, but you could run a laptop, and some lights, but probably not at the same time.

Solar stirlings do exist, some of them are very highly engineered machines that can produce enough to run a home from a 12ft dish. One company that I toured is hoping to get the cost down to the 10K price point with mass production. This is a long ways off from their current cost structure, and it is going to take some out of the box thinking, and huge strides in manufacturing to get there. As an engineer with many years of manufacturing engineering, I believe it would be absolutely inconceivable to produce one of their engines as a DIY. They have been at it for some 30 years with lots of government grants and investors to develop the technology thus far. I believe they will get there, I hope it is soon, and I hope we see a lot more companies doing the same thing. But to build a solar stirling as a DIY and produce any significant power, I don't think so.
 
Shane McKenna
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Location: Utah
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Here is a link to one persons opinion of the plans
http://www.ripoffreport.com/internet-fraud/solar-stirling-plant/solar-stirling-plant-sold-som-4f4e1.htm
 
Karen Crane
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Thanks for your report.
When you order this kind of stuff you are just "hope against hope"
that it is for real. In this case, sounds like a scam.
The whole thing is very frustrating.
 
Shane McKenna
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It is that hope that drives their sales. They mingle a little truth, with a lot of pie in the sky claims. You can build a solar stirling, and it could offset some of your electrical from the grid, not enough to make it worth it, but that line won't sell, so they don't admit to that. I wonder if you can get your money back? Better yet, get together with other buyers and bring a class action suit against them for false advertising. At the very least, people could go to their state consumer fraud division and get the state attorney general to bar them from selling to that state.

What is most frustrating to me, is that some of us are working on viable stirling generators. Every one of these frauds puts doubt in the public consciousness, and makes it that much harder to get investment and sales of solid technology.
 
david willis
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I did a lot of research on sterling engines a few years ago, and really wanted one, but came to the same conclusion as Shane did. It would cost a lot of money to get one that really powered a house. I would think the cost could go way down if a company could mass produce some, but until then it is very expensive. If I remember correctly I found a company that made them, and would sell one for 100k (I can't remember how big it was... 5-15 hp I think).

For me, I think it will be less expensive to use syn-gas to power a generator, but I have not done that project yet.
 
Shane McKenna
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Here is the most practical use of a home built stirling engine. He is using the heat of his boiler combustion chamber to run the stirling, and the stirling powers a pump to circulate the heated water.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obbaveBjUuk
 
Marcos Buenijo
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david willis wrote:I did a lot of research on sterling engines a few years ago, and really wanted one, but came to the same conclusion as Shane did. It would cost a lot of money to get one that really powered a house. I would think the cost could go way down if a company could mass produce some, but until then it is very expensive. If I remember correctly I found a company that made them, and would sell one for 100k (I can't remember how big it was... 5-15 hp I think).

For me, I think it will be less expensive to use syn-gas to power a generator, but I have not done that project yet.


I agree. So does Mr. Ken Boak (chairman of the Stirling Engine Society... oh, the irony) who powers his home in the UK with a wood gas engine system. He uses a 6 hp single cylinder Lister Diesel converted to spark ignition with a lot of heat exchange equipment for heat recovery (for space heating), and a gasifier from All Power Labs.

http://www.powercubes.com/listers.html

 
david willis
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Marcos, that is right along the lines of what I want to do some day. Thanks for the link!
 
Marcos Buenijo
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david willis wrote:Marcos, that is right along the lines of what I want to do some day. Thanks for the link!


You're very welcome David, that's what this forum is all about, . BTW, the conversion discussed in the video lowered the compression ratio of the Lister Diesel. However, it has since been shown that the engine runs great with the stock 17:1 compression ratio, so no modification of the compression ratio is necessary: http://wiki.gekgasifier.com/w/page/30448258/Spark%20conversion%20for%20Lister%20slow%20speed%20diesel%20engines

Wood gas can handle a lot of compression. Personally, I believe it can be used to dual fuel Diesels with compression ratios even higher than 17:1. This would not necessarily be desirable, but since there are many stock Diesel engines out there with compression ratios higher than 17:1, then perhaps some testing with wood gas would not be unreasonable (at least a dual fuel test configuration would be straight forward). Personally, I really like the idea of converting one of these slow speed Lister type engines to 100% wood gas as it seems to work well, the engines are very durable, and the conversion would be fairly easy to do. On installing a spark plug, it was quoted from the site: "For the purpose of this conversion, it was discovered that a long-reach spark-plug was almost a perfect fit into the injector hole in the top of the Lister cylinder head. The spark-plug could be clamped in place, down onto it's sealing washer using a short length of steel tube, and the existing injector hold down clamp." An aftermarket ignition timing system was then used to control the spark (the "arduino" was scrapped) in which a sensor is placed on the engine block that is actuated by an iron washer placed on the flywheel. A control box fed with a 12 volt power supply delivers the required discharges to the spark plug. These are a couple hundred bucks. So, the conversion is all about removing the injector and replacing it with a spark plug, then installing a modular ignition system. Easy.
 
david willis
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Where do you find these engines? I found some new ones here: http://01856bc.netsolhost.com/order/09912_kit.asp?page=K09912

Would they work, or is there a cheaper place to find used ones?

 
Marcos Buenijo
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david willis wrote:Where do you find these engines? I found some new ones here: http://01856bc.netsolhost.com/order/09912_kit.asp?page=K09912

Would they work, or is there a cheaper place to find used ones?


I see no reason why the site you linked could not provide a good product. However, note that I also have no reason to believe they will provide a good product. Their pricing seems good to me, and if they have tested the engine you'll be getting, then that's a plus.

See this site for valuable information: http://www.utterpower.com/listeroi.htm .
There is also a good forum here: http://listerengine.com/smf/

When I'm in a position to take the full off grid plunge, then what Ken Boak has done (more or less) is my #2 option because I know it works. Unfortunately, in my particular case I need a lot space cooling, so I would use the engine to drive an automotive a/c compressor to partially freeze a mass of water for a chilled water system (mainly for spot cooling... the idea here is that chilled water can be distributed to small air coolers for use while sleeping or whenever one is in a stationary position - cooling an entire space is not good off grid energy practice). My #1 option is to see if I can devise a simple absorption chiller to operate at a low and continuous output using a small biomass furnace that can also be configured for space heating and water heating. In this set up electricity is provided by a solar array with a small genset as a back up for bulk battery charging only when required. This configuration would consume a lot less biomass for the same effect as compared to using a wood gas engine system. However, I must say that Ken Boak's system is particularly well suited for a cold climate with low solar insolation.

ADDENDUM: Note that since it's now clear that wood gas works well in the Lister type engine with the stock 17:1 compression, then a dual fuel configuration should also work well. The benefits here include not having to modify the engine, possibly enhanced life due to additional lubrication provided by Diesel fuel injection, and possible higher efficiency due to more stable ignition. Personally, it seems that anyone interested in using vegetable oil to fuel stationary Diesel engines for power generation should be honing in on this stuff. Go 20% vegetable oil and 80% wood!

See discussion on Diesel dual fuel operation starting on page 111: http://taylor.ifas.ufl.edu/documents/Handbook_of_Biomass_Downdraft_Gasifier_Engine_Systems.pdf
NOTE: Even this publication gets it wrong with its claim of having to lower the compression ratio of a Diesel to 9.5 - 10 when converting to spark ignition.

LAST COMMENT: Yeah, I know I'm wordy, but I've done a lots of research. The most practical set up is probably the one that uses a conventional gas engine operated at a reduced speed. Basically, the same thing that Mr. Boak is doing, but with a good small gas engine. A good small single cylinder gas engine can last a long time when operated in this manner. See the following account: https://homepower.com/sites/default/files/uploads/webextras/mark8.pdf . A 4 hp honda engine operated a total of 13,000 hours in a battery charging configuration at a reduced speed of about 2000 rpm. Interestingly, most other brands fell way short. Only Honda held up with an average of 5000 hours plus in this setting. Of course, using wood gas is a different ball game. However, a good gasifier combined with an auxiliary oil filtration system should make a highly reliable system possible. Best thing here is the engines are a lot smaller, a lot less expensive, and readily available as compared to the Listeroid... and you don't have to worry about engine quality issues or vendor integrity. This is actually what I have planned first for a wood gas engine set up using a good permanent magnet alternator charging a small fork lift battery via a bridge rectifier, and also driving an automotive a/c compressor to cool a mass of water for a chilled water system... a long with waste heat recovery, of course. Anyway, I think I've ranted enough! Later, .
 
david willis
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Thanks, that is great information!!!

One of the benefits I see with the Lister engine is that it is water cooled, so it will make it easier to capture the heat from the engine to heat water. If the Honda engine was water cooled, then it would make it more tempting. That, and the fact the Lister engine would probably last forever.

I still need to go through all your links and info. But those were my first concerns with the Honda. It would however be much cheaper and easier to setup.
 
Marcos Buenijo
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Other possible sources for Listers (I have no idea on quality or integrity of these operations):

http://diesel-electric.us/ (NOTE: These guys are in Alaska AND Kansas. I've heard from many independent sources that the Lister is rather popular up there as an off grid source of electric power for small communities. This suggests that perhaps this is a reliable source.).

http://www.indiamart.com/shree-satya-industries/

 
david willis
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I have been looking more into this, and found this old thread... http://gekgasifier.com/forums/index.php?/topic/9-redstone-diesel-woodgas-optimized-engine/page__st__40

I wonder if it would be cheaper and better to use a car engine and modify it with higher compression. At least it would be easy to find parts for cheap
 
joe capcom
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hi, I have just built this stirling engine. but there seems to be some problem. it doesn't startup. basically, it isn't running. I use a butane torch as the heat source but still there isn't enough power to run it. can I get some advice on how I can get it running. initially there was too much torque, so I reduced the stroke length but it still will not run. I am unable to identify the problem.nsome advice would be helpful, thanks.
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stirling engine
 
randall gabriell
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Location: Athens Ohio
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We have been doing alot of research and development in the area of free piston sterling engines an extremely efficient design that beats the socks off of any beta or alpha sterling. I will keep this thread posted on our progress but we are aiming at a sterling that could be made for 500$ give or take and produces around 1 kW. I will post pictures or video in the next month or so hopefully. Keep tinkering this is the best renewable back back up power option in my opinion!
 
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