Werbos, Dr. Paul J.
paul.werbos at verizon.net
Wed Sep 15 12:23:51 UTC 2004
At 06:39 PM 9/14/2004 -0700, Steve wrote:
>What are the Stirling options like, technically?
There have been breakthroughs of a sort in Stirling in the last few years.
The true story has been a bit like Perils of Pauline... and utterly
unrelated to the
fantasy stories of renewables told by the current official experts in the
But technically, it is fairly straightforward. It is "external combustion."
In other words
the engine proper converts heat to torque (or electricity, when it's one
Old efficiency is like 30 percent -- still allowing solar power far more
DOE's hoped for goals for ten years from now. The path to 50 percent is
and has received at least two sufficiently large funding commitments to pull
it off and go to mass production. In fact, I probably can claim credit for
this last part happen (though in fact, it's a chain, in which four of us
were essential links.).
Some of the previous pass funding came from the diesel people, who could
see the advantage of
something as efficient as their old engines, but cleaner and cheaper and
But the biomass and solar applications, and distributed electric power, are
driving the present efforts.
Having this stuff move ahead will be very crucial to prevent more extreme
rises in the price of natural gas
and high-quality biomass (which should nevertheless continue to rise)
when/if fuel flexibility creates a large (if indirect) new
market both for natural gas and liquid biofuels. And it should help alleviate
the emerging electric power supply problems in many parts of the world --
especially those with
lots of biomass and sunlight.
But -- hybrids rightly get more attention in my view in vehicles for now,
as (1) they are further along;
and (2) they are a steppingstone to other important possibilities, like the
carbon-tolerant alkaline fuel cell car, and the "plug-in hybrid" which can
grow to be a true electric car
(or at least a car able to run on electricity alone in case of emergency).
>Could "regenerative" braking be incorporated into
>Stirling engines the way it is in hybrids?
Strictly speaking, the next generation stirling engine could be used in
the small gasoline engine used in today's hybrids. But for now that is not
But in fact... I wouldn't be surprise if that ended up being the "next
best" hope for liquid fuels
if the methanol alkaline fuel cell car doesn't happen. It could even burn
weird liquids like
corn oil. FOR NOW -- getting to mass production of the next generation
Stirling is the
proper main concern (and worry).
>I suspect that the energy companies of the future
>won't be the oil companies. They will go into
>defensive mode and slowly wind down.
Maybe. But they should be allowed to destroy themselves, if they so choose --
while also be given every opportunity at a better win-win outcome.
>What bright young person will think there is a great
>future in oil?
>How many are studying nuclear engineering these days?
The best and brightest in the US are studying virtual reality and video
games, and perhaps voting accordingly.
Well-- that's a bit of an exaggeration; please forgive. But we have a lot
to work on.
Best of luck to us all...
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