Since Stirling engines are external heat engines, they can be powered from a broad range of heat sources. These heat sources can include sustainable options such as solar thermal, waste heat, biofuels, and biomass. Stirling engines are also theoretically capable of the highest efficiencies possible for heat engines. Therefore, they have considerable potential to supply sustainable energy, which is in high demand due to the growing threat from climate change. However, in practice Stirling engines often fail to achieve their high theoretical efficiencies, which hinders their functionality. In this talk I will discuss some of the main reasons why Stirling engines fail to achieve their theoretical efficiencies, and then discuss how the design of Stirling engines can be adapted to achieve substantially higher efficiencies.
Brendan MacDonald is an Associate Professor in the Department of Automotive, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Engineering at Ontario Tech University. His group conducts research on external heat engines and capillary-driven microfluidics. He has also founded a start-up company, Ekstera Inc., to commercialize the heat engine technology. Previously he completed a Ph.D. and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto.