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Ericsson's Solar Hot Air Engine on Display

Brent Rowell

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Last Subscription Date
06/11/2020
The Science Museum in London is opening a new exhibit this Saturday called "The Sun--Living with Our Star". Among other things, the exhibit features John Ericsson's original 1873 "sun motor" or solar hot air engine on loan from a museum here in the US. While the original is no longer functional, they will also be showing a professional video made this summer of my replica running on solar power. My own amateur video can be seen here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AP4XNkxjb2o

For those of you who may not know, Ericsson's sun motor was the immediate predecessor of his hot air pumping engine made by DeLameter Iron Works and later by the Rider-Ericsson Engine Co.

The background image in the display is a solar-powered steam engine by Frenchman Augustin Mouchot (also 1870s).
 

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Brent Rowell

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Last Subscription Date
06/11/2020
Re: Ericsson's solar hot air engine on display

A friend just sent me this photo he took recently at the Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris. It appears to be an 1870s Mouchot solar steam boiler, possibly the same one shown in the image used as the backdrop at the Science Museum above. Note also the early open cycle Ericsson hot air engine in the glass case against the wall (top left). B. Perleberg photo.
 

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Buster

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Last Subscription Date
06/04/2021
Re: Ericsson's solar hot air engine on display

Brent About 40 years ago some one told me of two big solar hot air engines In Phoenix area at city dump ....Do not know what they were used for or if they were even there .I looked for 20 years and could not find any one that knew about them Buster
 

Brent Rowell

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Last Subscription Date
06/11/2020
Buster, there were some 60 experimental 25 Kw solar dish stirling generators set up in AZ (Maricopa, southwest of Phoenix) about 7-8 years ago but don't know what became of them. The technology was well developed but the two companies involved failed when they were unable to scale up production to thousands of units while at the same time trying to compete with falling solar panel prices. Fortunately or unfortunately, China and at least one European partner has now begun manufacturing them. These are multi-piston crankshaft engines based on Rider's design.

The last US company making solar stirling units (Infinia) folded and sold their assets to an Israeli company called Qnergy which is offering 1-5 KW free piston stirling engine (single cylinder with linear alternator, apparently non-solar) multi-fuel power units for remote locations. This technology was developed in Athens, Ohio by engineers at Sunpower, Inc. Both Sunpower and Qnergy manufacture stirling cryocoolers for space and defense applications.

https://www.qnergy.com/technology/

Don't know what became of Infinia's solar units or if Qnergy plans to continue Infinia's solar stirling initiative in Israel or the US. Qnergy has also been working with "thermoacoustic" stirling technology but I have no idea how this works:

https://solarindustrymag.com/qnergy-demonstrates-solar-thermoacoustic-power-generation/



Qnergy stirling thermoacoustic generator
 

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Marv in Minn

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Last Subscription Date
02/05/2020
Don't know what became of Infinia's solar units or if Qnergy plans to continue Infinia's solar stirling initiative in Israel or the US. Qnergy has also been working with "thermoacoustic" stirling technology but I have no idea how this works:
https://solarindustrymag.com/qnergy-demonstrates-solar-thermoacoustic-power-generation/
Qnergy stirling thermoacoustic generator

Brent, i have one of these units and it runs very well.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Hot-Air-Th...922269?hash=item4d22d5da9d:g:YHIAAOSwGvhT9Z3c
 

Brent Rowell

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Last Subscription Date
06/11/2020
Marv,
Maybe you can explain it for us. I'm stumped by the word 'acoustic' which to me means sound.
 

Marv in Minn

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Last Subscription Date
02/05/2020
Marv,
Maybe you can explain it for us. I'm stumped by the word 'acoustic' which to me means sound.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoacoustic_heat_engine

the heat on one side of the heat exchanger produces sound waves that are the displacer
to move the air from hot to cold and back again to run the engine.

very poor short (flip phone video) of my engine running https://youtu.be/GOrMnmkmx2w

good video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YKWeMw0TCc

notice that the flame is on the piston side of the steel wool heat exchanger.
there is also an aluminum heat sink with a hole in it between the flame and the piston.
as with any Sterling cycle engine, the hotter it gets, the faster it runs.
 

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Buster

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Last Subscription Date
06/04/2021
Brent
What year were these built ??? The big ones I was looking for in Phoenix area I thought were in the late 1920 ??? Buster
 

Brent Rowell

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Last Subscription Date
06/11/2020
Buster,
Those are from just a few years ago but I don't think they were in Arizona. There were some 25KW solar stirling machines operating for one of the power companies in AZ around 2010 but that company could not scale up and compete with cheap solar panels. I don't think there were any in the 1920s but there was a big solar-powered steam engine set up on a farm in Arizona near Phoenix in the early 1900s; it didn't last long and was blown down in a windstorm.
 
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