This report presents an investigation into two related subjects: Stirling engines and micro-cogeneration. Due to rising fossil fuel prices and the movement towards cleaner, more efficient energy usage, the concept of micro-cogeneration (generating heat and electricity together on a small scale) has gained momentum in recent years as a way to increase energy efficiency and decrease emissions. Among the many technologies being considered for micro-cogeneration products, the Stirling engine is one of the options that are almost ready for market. Invented in the early 19th century as a competitor to the steam engine but confined to niche applications for most of the 20th century, Stirling engines are gaining attention once again thanks to emergence of cogeneration and micro-cogeneration.
The aim of this report is to provide an overview of the Stirling engine, micro-cogeneration, and the application of Stirling engines in micro-cogeneration. The report is divided into the following primary sections:
- The Stirling Engine: this section covers the history and inner workings of the Stirling engine. The section also outlines the Stirling engine’s advantages and disadvantages when compared to competitive technologies such as the internal combustion engines.
- Micro-cogeneration: this section covers various facets of micro-cogeneration, including its definition, benefits, challenges, current implementations, and the application of Stirling engines in micro-cogeneration.