Between 1958 and 1970, much valuable work on Stirling engines was carried out in tlie United States by the General Motors Corporation (Percival 1974). Interest at General Motors was stimulated in 1948 by the publication of the three classic papers about the early Philips work (Rinia and du Pre 1946, de Brcy, Rinia and van Weenan 1947, and van Weenan 1947). General Motors proposed a working agreement with Philips but the idea was rejected as premature. Later, in 1957. Philips considered their work sufficiently advanced and negotiated a licence agreement with General Motors. The agreement provided for a ten year information exchange with provision for mutual licensing of patents relating to Stirling engines.

At General Motors, the interest in Stirling engines was focused on applications in marine propulsion, locomotive power, generating sets, and various military and space applications. Percival (1974) notes that in 1958:

'There was no interest by anyone in road vehicle power. It was believed that cost, bulk, and weight would be excessive. Also, that higher heat rejection would make it impossible to install radiators. However. G.M. made no investigation of Stirling vehicle propulsion until 1962

The work at General Motors can be broadly classified into three principal elements identified by the division responsible for execution of the program, namely,

(a) G.M. Research Laboratories, Technical Center, Warren. Michigan.

(b) Electromotive Division, La Grange. Illinois (and earlier, Cleveland Diesel Engine Division).

(c) Allison Division, Indianapolis.

By far the biggest effort was invested at G.M. Research working on their own programmes and on work related to the other two division programmes. The size of the team, or the total man-years of ellort expended on Stirling engines have never been disclosed. An estimate of 50 engineers for 10 years would perhaps not be unrealistic.

Very early G.M. Research was encouraged by the U.S. Army Engineer Laboratories, Tort Belvoir, Va., to develop Stirling engines for outboard motors and small generating sets. Percival (1974) attributes the 'near certainty of an Army contract' as a major consideration influencing the corporate decision to proceed with the licence arrangement.

Subsequently the At my did commission the development of a small (3 kW (4 hp)) electric-power generator designated the Ground Power Unit (GPU). This contract ran for several years and was in fact the only included in the companion volumef. It should be understood there was much interchange between the different groups working on prime movers and refrigerating machines with developments in one field finding their application in another.

Another important program not covered here is the joint North American PhUips/Westinghouse program to investigate the feasibility of the radioisotope artificial heart under contract to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (ABC), and later the Energy Research and Development Administration. This program is reviewed in Chapter 17.

" Hegerieratwc Cryogenic Cooling Engines—in preparation.

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.

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