Gas is close to $4.00 per gallon. Have you ever thought of NOT being connected to a utility company for power ? How do we start to change this equation? One way, develop more efficient means of generating electricity from a wider variety of fuels.
This goal of this project is to build a low cost Stirling engine that can generate electricity (around 1KW of power output). We have completed a prototype engine for proof of concept and to test out materials and linkages. Now we want to scale the project so that engine can be used for real work. This engine will have around 1KW of power. What does that mean ? Well the average US household uses about 8,900KWH of electricity per year - that comes down to 24 KWH per day and so our goal is to have a minimum engine output of 1KW so that it can produce close to the average home use of electrical power per day (24 hours of 1 KW output give you 24KWH). We have a cost target of less then $100, in cost, for this engine, with the majority of parts made from commonly found commodity components. At the completion of the project we'll provide open source plans for construction of the engine along with kits that allow purchase of the components or completed engine.
The Stirling engine was invented in 1812, and prior to the internal combustion engine (ie gas and diesel engines) it was used widely for both industrial and home applications. The Stirling engine works off of some of the same principles of the internal combustion engine. The principle that compressing and expanding a gas can provide useful work. Two key differences, you can use any type of external heat source, and the Stirling is more efficient then the internal combustion engine. The Stirling engine operates on a temperature difference. The engine has a hot end and a cold end, this temperature difference is what produces work. You can stick the head of a Stirling engine into a fire and it will start running. You can burn gas, wood, chips, paper, etc. and use the heat from that to run a Stirling engine. You can use the waste heat from your fireplace or furnace to run the Stirling engine. The second difference is the Stirling engine is more efficient then the gasoline driven engine. It produces more power from the input energy then does a gasoline or diesel engine. Don't believe me ? Ask NASA.
There has been lots of work and research done with the Stirling engine, from NASA to the big 3 auto companies. The engine has been proven more efficient then the internal combustion engine by 10-20%, and the engine is in many ways simpler then the internal combustion engine. What the engine does best is perform constant speed / power applications, like the generation of electricity.
The money that we raise will be used for the tools to design and build the low cost engine and provide a basic framework for distributing the plans and engines to folks wanting to use it for generating electricity or other purposes. Our engine will provide an alternative power source for the individual homeowner who wants to move closer to self sufficient electrical generation. You will be supporting a small garage based operation out of Detroit ! Check out our blog for more information and to keep track of the projects progress -
Thanks for taking the time to check us out and for all your support !
- (45 days)