Stirling History

The Stirling Engine, or Hot Air Engine as it was sometimes called, was invented in the 1700’s. However, it was improved in 1816-17 by the Rev. Robert Stirling, a Scottish minister. Stirling’s patent is now accepted as a brilliant invention, well ahead of its time.

Toward the end of the 19th Century the electric motor and the gasoline engine were developed and, because of their greater power for a given size, began to replace the Stirling Engines of the day. Yet, The Stirling-type engines remained on the job where other sources of energy were not available until the 1920’s.

Things remained relatively unchanged for decades. The world was satisfied with fossil fuels and electricity as their primary source of energy. Slowly the world began to awake to the fuel problems facing our modern society.

In 1977 Solar Engines produced our “Original” Stirling Cycle Engine”. This “Original” Engine has been an inspirational item for tens of thousands of businesses and individuals. Dozens of Scientific Magazines and Journals have used our “Original” Engine to discuss a multitude of future possibilities for the Stirling Cycle Engine. The Public Broadcast Network, in its NOVA production, “The Anatomy of a Mechanical Heart” featured our “Original” Engine. The Stirling Cycle Engine has tremendous potentials in this field because of its inherent high reliability, and its characteristics of being able to operate on any form of heat.

By 1979 everyone was talking about our energy problems, This same year, Solar Engines introduced the world’s first commercially produced “SUN MOTOR”. This motor, when fitted with a parabolic mirror as a concentrator, converts solar energy directly to rotary motion. This engine dramatically demonstrates to the engineer and layman alike that energy from the sun can be harnessed.

In the ensuing years, many requests were received from engineers and experimenters for a Solar Motor which could easily be pressurized. Combining the knowledge obtained from our “Sun Motor” production, with the request for an experimental engine, resulted in our “Sun Runner”.

Invariably an individual, regardless of his background, that sees a “Hot Air Engine” run for the first time will be fascinated. This has resulted in a large group of collectors of these engines. To meet theses needs, we also offer our “Vertical Stirling Cycle Engine,” the “Vacuum Flame Eater” and the “Stirling Driven Fan”.

The U.S. Government and many large corporations are conducting feasibility studies on the Stirling Cycle principle. At this time, the Model Stirling Cycle engines produced by Solar Engines are the only commercially manufactured Stirling Cycle Engines available in the world. A more complete History of the Stirling Cycle Engine is available in Andy Ross’s book “Stirling Cycle Engines”.