Stirling Engine from Junk

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License: Creative Commons Attribution Stirling Engine from Junk Hexult
Views: 239
06 Jun, 2011


A simple heat engine made — mostly — from household rubbish.

Director's Notes:

The Stirling engine is a wonderful Victorian invention that simply uses the difference in temperature between two plates to expand and compress air, to run a piston. There are many shown on the web, but most have been made using a precision lathe. I wanted to see if I could build one from junk round the home.

I didn’t quite manage it, I bought a glass syringe and some model train bearings.

I am now working on a mk2, which will only be from rubbish.

SciCast Notes:

This is a heck of a feat of engineering. I happen to have a precision-made Sterling engine which, when I’ve got it prepped well, just about runs on the heat difference provided by a really hot mug of tea. So this looks like it’s running even more smoothly, which given the construction materials involved is something the maker should take real pride in.

So I’d like to express my admiration for their handiwork, but also convey my apologies; this film was submitted months ago, somehow vanished into the system, and then got caught up in the move to the new film archive. I’m terribly sorry it’s so late, and I’m glad we can at last share it with the SciCast audience.

— Jonathan.


I had the idea of people building them on the ice in a story I was writing called Hexult, so I just wanted to see how hard it was. the stirling engine didn't make it into the book, but it may well make it into a sequel!

James wrote, on 18 June, 2011:

Do you have plans to make this?

I have no plans,in fact the original was dropped and it broke. I have spent a while making another one which I will video and put on my books web site and if there is some interest, I will happily draw up some plans, pointers and descriptions