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Can I get the Sun's heat to power a small Sterling engine for a science fair? Answered


A regional science fair is coming up, and this year my school will be hosting it! Being such a good opportunity, I have decided to participate in this fair. So far, I have thought about making a sterling engine powered by waste heat from computers, light bulbs, etc, but my science teacher recommended I use the heat from something really abundant, such as the sun's rays. It seems like a good idea, but does anyone know what I can do? Also, if anyone has any other topics I can do for the fair, that'd be great!



Sure, try http://peswiki.com/index.php/OS:Stirling_Engine_by_GreenPowerScience They have a giant magnifying glass focused on the engine, which gets to a very high rpm.

Yes you can. Do it and post here.

Try one of the many versions of a sterling engine on this site and elsewhere, but, instead of a candle beneath, leave the bottom hollow and empty.

Darken the inside of the hollow, then mount it over the focal point of a big old satellite dish, laid flat on its back and lined with reflective foil.

You can increase the efficiency by mounting cooling fins on the top of the engine (say, a couple of old PC heat-sinks), and adapting the flywheel to include fan-blades to blow a cooling breeze over the fins.

It may help to add a thermal mass to the underside - basically, make the bottom of thicker metal.  It will take longer to heat up and start the engine, but will serve as a buffer to keep the engine going when clouds block the sunlight.

Easily - LHD stirlings are very hard to get going though.

A lens or concave mirror will do the job.

The sun is easily powerful enough to heat water to steam so a stirling isn't a problem.


I like it! Some of the most efficient power plants in the world use mirrors focused on a Stirling engine to generate electricity.

Keep in mind that a Stirling runs off a difference in heat, not just raw heat. You could run one in a refrigerator if you put dry ice on the cold side. To run one off solar heat, you'll need to either concentrate it or cool the cold side -- the former would almost certainly be easier. There's plenty of ways to concentrate sunlight... an old Fresnel lens, a satellite dish covered in disco ball mirrors, or some cardboard bent into a parabolic form and covered in aluminum foil.

Good luck!

Well, you sure can, but making the engine is the trick. What are you proposing to make ?