Introduction: The Amazing Pringles Stirling Engine

The amazing pringles Stirling engine, made from cardboard Pringles tube. When I saw this video by MarekSHayward I just had to have my own! It impressed me seeing a Stirling engine made mostly out of cardboard, something which wouldn't normally be workable in an external combustion engine.  This is a really easy to build Stirling that should be accessible to almost anyone.

How does it work ?

This engine uses air which is repeated heated and cooled. To allow the air to be heated and cooled the pringles tube contains a displacer which is like a loose piston that can move up and down forcing the air around the engine. When the air is heated it expands pushing the diaphragm (balloon) outward which turns the cranks. When the cranks turn they move the displacer down so that the air is near the top where it is cooled causing it to shrink and pull the cranks back, which of course moves the displacer upwards allowing the air to be heated at the bottom, this repeats over and over!

Materials :

  • 4 x Pringles tubes, clean and dry
  • 1 x Balloon
  • 1 x Air freshener lid/ small aerosol lid
  • Cardboard from an old shipping box
  • Several plastic straws
  • General purpose adhesive
  • Hot melt glue
  • Fishing line (the creator of the original engine used cotton thread instead)
  • Cotton wool

Tools :

  • Scissors
  • Compass
  • Drill (with 2mm and 5mm drill bits)
  • Mark pen
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Pliers
  • Box cutter
  • Hot melt glue gun







Comments

author
Shwen1 (author)2014-10-06

is the only way to get the directions through the download that costs money?

author
scraptopower (author)Shwen12014-10-07

No, go on my website scraptopower.co.uk. They are all free on there.

author
watson9194 (author)2011-01-23

one of the coolest things Ive seen on instructables.The instructions are very clear and easy to understand.
thanks

author
glome4d (author)2011-01-21

Hey great tutorial. I got mine working after trying it with two tea candles. The video of the engine in working order can be found here.

author
scraptopower (author)glome4d2011-01-22

Superb! It looks a lot neater than mine, well made. Thanks for posting!

author
darcy2456808 (author)2016-10-23

how do we extract the energy?

author
CrumbleG made it! (author)2015-04-26

isn't work pls help me

WP_20150426_002.jpg
author
AkatsukiKawa made it! (author)2014-03-10

Cool and great instruction! Thank you :D!

20140118_183039.jpg
author
heathbar64 (author)2012-09-16

AWW Man!! This is just too sweet! I'm definitely makin one of these!

author
A Das (author)2012-07-10

Hello scraptopower!
I tried searching for the steel wire wool for the stirling engine fan but it wasn't available anywhere around. Could you suggest any alternatives which would work without fail?
Waiting for your reply,
Thank You

author
ankitcoolmaggu (author)2011-09-28

In material list u right cotton Wool there is no description about this and the fishing thread which is connected to the crank rod And its other end connected to the displacer how .....

author

It's all there in "Step 1".

author
inventorrr (author)scraptopower2012-04-30

i don't understand...
firstly we made a tube with the piston and cotton wool. but where did that tube

author
inventorrr (author)2012-04-30

i don't understand...
firstly we made a tube with the piston and cotton wool. but where did that tube

author
inventorrr (author)2012-04-30

where is the piston that we put the pringles

author
rmoha (author)2011-07-10

Great job, i'm using this for a project in my school, i was wondering how long fishing line should be??

author
000Ike (author)2011-06-15

Thats extremely cool. 2 questions:
1. does the stirling engine keep working infinitely until there is no more heat?
2.would hot water be a safer alternative to fire? to use the steam as heat.

- thanks

author
scraptopower (author)000Ike2011-06-19

It will work as long as there is heat.
Hot water wouldn't be hot enough to run this engine, unfortunately.

author
Nirnaeth (author)2011-06-15

Quick question... what did you use for the engine in order to make everything function?

author
scraptopower (author)Nirnaeth2011-06-15

Sorry I don't understand your question, could you be more specific ?

author
Nirnaeth (author)scraptopower2011-06-15

It says above the candle there is a engine, what does that engine consist of

author
scraptopower (author)Nirnaeth2011-06-15

The engine is the Pringles tube and balloon and displacer inside. It works off the heat from the candle expanding the air inside of the tube which pushes on the balloon making the engine turn. That moves the displacer inside of the engine which pushes the air up to the top where it cools, this pulls the balloon back in, starting over again.

author
Nirnaeth (author)scraptopower2011-06-15

what is the displacer?

author
lukeD (author)2011-05-18

Hé,
this is so cool! I have all the stuff to make it. but... how long is the displacer?

author
scraptopower (author)lukeD2011-05-19

You should make it 2/3rds of the height of the displacers cylinder.

In hindsight, I shouldn't have made the cylinder so tall, because this makes the displacer heavy, which makes it harder to get balanced. I'd alter it to make the displacer cylinder shorter, say about 9cm ?

author
lukeD (author)scraptopower2011-05-20

thanks for the fast reply!
okay, I'll try to make the whole thing in this weekend. If it is done, I'll send you a picture of it, and if it works, I'll send you a video.

LukeD

author
ilikepieinmyshoe (author)2011-04-13

Cool instructable, I got mine working for about 30seconds to a minute, before puny candles could no longer satisfy my needs for power and i decided to instal a flaming cup of cup of rubbing alcohol in the candle holder. needless to say it caught on fire and i had to hose it down outside.

author
ilikechemicals (author)2011-04-04

I'm glad to see that i'm not the only one who absolutly loves hot glue. 8D LOL great engine dude i'm going to use your design cause for my stirling except i'm going to make it with some metal tubes. really great instructable i've been trying to figure out how to make a good stirling engine and yours shows absolutly every little detail i needed thanks a lot. REALLY.

author
bibbibbib (author)2011-01-09

with a hotter/bigger flame will it go faster?

author
scraptopower (author)bibbibbib2011-01-10

Yes - up to the point where you set fire to the cardboard :D

author
bibbibbib (author)scraptopower2011-02-09

If it were made of metal, could it, or a couple of them fuel a car

author

look into wood gas or bio gas engines, people have powered cars and trucks with a woodstove in the back full of pine cones, cherry pits, or whatever was dry enough and burnable. check out make your honda run on trash instrutable.

author
scraptopower (author)bibbibbib2011-02-10

No chance - you'd need about a million of these to run a car, even then, it would be the worlds slowest car :)

author
bibbibbib (author)scraptopower2011-01-10

Great! thank you

author
whiplash (author)2010-12-24

we never have pringles, my life is now ruined :P

anyway great instructable :D

author
dragonsniper (author)whiplash2011-02-22

lol

author
14n (author)dragonsniper2011-03-05

Im using frozen oj concentrate container

author
scraptopower (author)2011-01-12

Assuming you mean a metal one, yes - they're a bit tough to bend though. Remove the rubbery plasticy coating.

author
The3rdPunch (author)scraptopower2011-01-12

ok just one last thing. why is the cardboard discs nessesasry? cant you use something else?

author
scraptopower (author)The3rdPunch2011-01-13

It's to keep the momentum of the engine, so it keeps going. I used cardboard here to make it easy for people to build, but you can use anything for the flywheel .

author
The3rdPunch (author)scraptopower2011-01-14

is it possible to make the flywheel into a fan?

author
n0ukf (author)The3rdPunch2011-03-05

Fans were one very popular use for Stirling Cycle engines. But you still need a flywheel to carry the rotational energy past TDC/BDC.
http://www.stanleysteamers.com/photoalbum/other/fan1.jpg

author
The3rdPunch (author)2011-02-08

Ok I got it all together and working, but I just can't get it to move. There is no air leaking(after multiple tests) so i think my counter weighting is off. Does anybody kmow how to fix this problem?

author
SirStokes (author)2011-01-27

Mine caught on fire, but it worked for a few minutes! Very good instructable. I would advise anyone not to use sterno canisters for this stirling engine, as fire will result.

author
The3rdPunch (author)2011-01-08

What does it do?

author
scraptopower (author)The3rdPunch2011-01-10

It spins! Powered by a candle!

author
The3rdPunch (author)scraptopower2011-01-10

ok im gonna use this for my science fair project so if you could explain a litte more that would be awesome. thank you for answering.

author
scraptopower (author)The3rdPunch2011-01-13

It just works by heating and cooling the air, when the air is heated it expands pushing the balloon out, and when you cool the air down, it contracts returning it back to the start. The displacer just moves the air from the top to the bottom and vice versa so that it can be heated/cooled.

author

we have to put the card board having srtaw in both sides between cotton

author
The3rdPunch (author)2011-01-12

for the displacer tube, what size should that be?

About This Instructable

69,077views

176favorites

Bio: Scrap To Power - check out my website for more projects
More by scraptopower:Thermoelectric USB charger - off grid electricity.Tetra Pak Bird Box Idea.Stripboard track cutter
Add instructable to: