Current Activities

In 1993, another USJVP contract was initiated with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and Stirling Thermal Motors (STM) to develop a dish/Stirling system for utility-scale applications. The SAIC/STM tea m successfully demonstrated a 20-kWe unit in Golden, Colorado, in Phase 1. In December 1996, Arizona Public Service Company (APS) partnered with SAIC and STM to build and demonstrate the next five prototype dish/engine systems in the 1997-1998 time frame. SAIC and Stirling Thermal Motors, Inc. (STM) are working on next-generation hardware including a third-generation version of the STM 4-120, a faceted stretched-membrane dish with a face-down-sto w capability, and a directly-illuminated hybrid receiver. The overall objective is to reduce costs while maintainin g demonstrated performance levels. Phase 3 of the USJVP calls for the deployment of one megawatt of dish/engin e systems in a utility environment, which APS could then use to assist in meeting the requirements of Arizona' s renewable portfolio standard.

The economic potential of dish/engine systems continues to interest developers and investors. For example, Stirlin g Energy Systems (SES) has purchased the rights of the MDA technology, including the rights to manufacture th e Kockums 4-95 Stirling engine. SES is working with MDA to revive and improve upon the 1980s vintage system . There is also interest by Allied Signal Aerospace in applying one of their industrial Brayton engine designs to sola r power generation. In response to this interest, DOE issued a request for proposal in the spring of 1997 under the Dish Engine Critical Components (DECC) initiative. The DECC initiative is intended to encourage "solarization" of industrial engines and involves major industrial partners.

Next-generation hybrid receiver technology based on sodium heat pipes is being developed by SunLab in collaboration with industrial partners. Although, heat-pipe receiver technology is promising and significant progress has been made, cost-effective designs capable of demonstrating the durability required of a commercial system still need to be proven. SunLab is also developing other solar specific technology in conjunction with industry.

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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