Introduction: Solar Powered Model Engines to Teach Principles of Renewable Energy.

About: I'm a retired mechanical engineer, woodworker, boater, and inventor. Now I'm getting into wood turning, and have found that all my wood projects need not be flat and square.

The US continues to be dependent on imported oil for our energy. We have to change that and become energy independent. THAT is what this independence project means to me!

I believe we need to promote renewable energy sources in any way we can. The US is sadly still very much dependent on foreign oil imports, primarily from the volatile Middle Eastern countries. Education is the key. The best way to gain energy independence is by encouraging our youth to pursue careers in engineering and science, and to provide them with the opportunity to discover new breakthroughs in renewable energy.

Promote the development of solar energy as a renewable energy source.

1. Design and build operating models used to help teach physics and engineering concepts. An example is the solar powered Stirling cycle engine featured in my video. I will donate these models to high schools and universities. I have plans for additional working models which demonstrate solar energy principles. These would have transparent components so that students could see internal workings.
2. Volunteer my time to tutor students in subjects of physics and engineering, especially related to energy.
3. Document the designs of these model engines, using AutoCAD and other Autodesk software, and make these design drawings available to the public.

The Stirling cycle engine is not new; the concept was patented by Robert Stirling in 1816. So far they are generally not considered to be commercially viable, and are mainly used as models. My goal has been to design modifications which will allow these engines to run on solar energy. The contest video shows an engine I designed and built, powered only by the sunlight falling upon it. This type of working heat engine is a great way to explain many important science and engineering concepts. Students can actually see and visualize the processes. The Stirling cycle is covered in all thermodynamics text books.
See this video clip to see my model Stirling engine running on solar energy:

I’m a mechanical and civil engineer, now retired, with forty years experience in design and construction of industrial manufacturing plants. I have a patent on an invention in an unrelated field.

I hope to win a prize; it would indicate a vote of confidence. But I do not need a cash award to continue my project, and prefer not to be considered for the grand prize. I believe this award should go to one of the young entrants who have great ideas for starting a business. They could use the startup capital to bring their dreams to reality.

Bill Wells
DOB 11/28/1941

Jack Daniel's Independence Project Contest

Participated in the
Jack Daniel's Independence Project Contest