Research Papers: Design of Mechanisms and Robotic Systems

Design of a Novel Multicylinder Stirling Engine

[+] Author and Article Information
Steven Chatterton

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Politecnico di Milano,
Via G. La Masa 1,
Milano 20156, Italy
e-mail: steven.chatterton@polimi.it

Paolo Pennacchi

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Politecnico di Milano,
Via G. La Masa 1,
Milano 20156, Italy

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received May 6, 2014; final manuscript received January 6, 2015; published online February 16, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Ettore Pennestri.

J. Mech. Des 137(4), 042303 (Apr 01, 2015) (12 pages) Paper No: MD-14-1267; doi: 10.1115/1.4029642 History: Received May 06, 2014; Revised January 06, 2015; Online February 16, 2015

Stirling engines are machines based on a simple working principle and are well known for their theoretical high thermal efficiency. Technical drawbacks related to the high temperatures required for achieving high values of thermal efficiency and output power have limited their spread to low-power applications. Stirling engines can operate with almost any source of heat. For this reason, these engines are currently installed in applications with renewable energy sources for combined heat and power generation (CHP), where the mechanical output power is usually converted into electrical power. The paper is focused on the design and analysis of a novel mechanical configuration with a higher number of cylinders than current commercial solutions. The performances of several multicylinder configurations are evaluated via numerical simulations, taking into account the dynamics of the mechanism and the thermal aspects of the cycle. Finally, a prototype of the main mechanism, which allows the number of cylinders to be increased, is introduced and briefly described.

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Fig. 1

Thermodynamic Stirling cycle

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Fig. 2

Model of the thermodynamic cycle and temperature profile in the cells

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Fig. 3

Four-cylinder configuration with wobble yoke mechanism

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Fig. 4

Multicylinder configurations with different cycle connections

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Fig. 5

Kinematic scheme of the planetary mechanism

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Fig. 6

Planetary mechanism and design solutions: (b) timing belt and pulleys or (c) gears

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Fig. 7

Kinematic scheme of the secondary mechanism

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Fig. 8

Design solutions with different position of the rocker arms: (a) inner and (b) outer configurations

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Fig. 9

Pictures of the mechanical components of the proposed kinematic scheme for a four-cylinder configuration

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Fig. 10

Forces acting on each cylinder

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Fig. 11

Generator angular speed for the 5 (n + 1)-cylinder configuration. Vertical dashed lines represent shaft revolutions.

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Fig. 12

Torque at the generator shaft for different cylinder configurations. Vertical dashed lines represent shaft revolutions.

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Fig. 13

Rotational speed of the generator shaft for different cylinder configurations. Vertical dashed lines represent shaft revolutions.

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Fig. 14

p–V diagrams of the first thermodynamic cycle at steady state for different cylinder configurations

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Fig. 15

Radial force at cylindrical joint P

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Fig. 16

Radial force at spherical joint A

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Fig. 17

Radial force, axial force, and torque at revolute joint G

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Fig. 18

Total net power (5 (n + 1)-cylinder configuration) as function of some geometrical parameters: length GD of the rocker arm, radial position KP of the piston, and length AC of the connecting rod

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Fig. 19

Total net power for the 5 (n + 1)-cylinder configuration as function of several geometrical parameters: length GD of the rocker arm equal to the radial position KP of the piston and length AC of the connecting rod




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