The Stirling Alternative
Engineering Honours Degree 2008
University of Adelaide
Stirling Cycle engines are external combustion engines which offer some advantages over traditional internal combustion engines: lower maintenance cost, low NOx emissions, and the recovery of heat for process uses. The current commercial equipment is best thought of as a cogeneration unit. They can provide clean, inexpensive, and reliable on-site electric power generation for remote well sites. Requiring only a simple fuel control and conditioning system providing a reliable operation.
The Stirling engine operates on a external heat differential, using the expansion of gas to create mechanical work. The flexibility of the heat differential allows the Stirling engine to cater for several different power load requirements. The Stirling Cycle generators can be applied to low power applications in the oilfield and remote locations for a variety of power loads, given adequate fuel delivery. The solar system can be used as a singular unit or set up in grids to power remote locations without fuel lines. The solar grid system is one of the most efficient solar energy solutions on the market, allowing for expansions to suit any power need. The low water use makes it a perfect candidate for desert locations.
Australia is the driest inhabited continent, and has over 1.3 million square kilometres of desert making it a prime candidate for Stirling solar energy facilities. One square kilometre in Australia attracts the equivalent amount of energy from the sun as 1.5 million barrels of oil. It is also enough to desalinate 60 million cubic meters of water a year. The Stirling system would supply power and drinkable water, without greenhouse emissions or environmental effects, even beyond the lifespan of oil.