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Stirling Engine Technology

06/03/2011 5:14 PM

I read recently that the Stirling Engine technology power site in California was going to be dismantled and replaced with straight PV arrays. I am not sure who owns it now but at one point it was SES or Tessera, possibly another corporation.

I can appreciate that sometimes large operations can realize cost savings by changing technology so I am not arguing this was a bad move. However I am saddened to think this will spell the end of Stirling engine development due to a perception this is not a viable approach. From my research these engines requires a service refit every 2000 hours of running, and when running every day this can become expensive when dealing with 1000 or more engines.

However there are numerous situations where such an interval is not objectionable.

Since any heat source is usable these engines could be used where biomass is burned for heating use. The generation of electricity is a bonus.

Does anyone on this forum know where the scrapped or surplus Stirling generators will go? Buying one as surplus could be just the thing for my project of providing power to a northern native community.

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#1

Re: Stirling Engine Technology

06/04/2011 8:47 PM

Curious...that seems like an excessively frequent service interval. (I've seen 200 hours for lubing some diesels, 2000 hours for other tasks, 20,000 hours for overhauling recip refrigeration compressors, and 50,000 hours for screw compressors.)

I first learned of SES (Stirling Energy Systems) about 5 years ago, and was rooting for their success. It is sad if it hasn't worked out, but might be a source of used items for others to try. (?)

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: Stirling Engine Technology

06/05/2011 1:13 AM

I first heard of the Stirling engine in a pop Sci magazine article almost a decade back. Then I heard it had been hijacked by PG&E for a utility power farm and saw a photo op when George Bush I did the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Somewhere along the way I think another company bought out the installation and maybe it was them that decided the maintenance on the motors was costing too much. The assumption being a PV array does not need maintenance. What about hail storms or dust storms. doesn't anyone clean the arrays periodically?

I would love to get my hands on one of those hole assemblies. I believe each delivered somewhere around 5-10 kilowatts.

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Stirling Engine Technology

06/05/2011 10:23 AM

That would pretty much be the grail of home off grid systems

solar in the day, wood or propane fired at night

a few batteries to smooth out the switching bumps

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#8
In reply to #5

Re: Stirling Engine Technology

06/05/2011 12:27 PM

GRAIL is right. the article I saw many years ago was for a home product suited to power a single home and running around the 5-10kW output range. The target price point on those days was $1 /watt this is still a goalbecause best price you could expect for solar which is $2 - $3 per watt when purchaded in bulk.

china cloned IC engined generators run cheaper but given they are essentially throw away I would have to say the cost over a 5 year period is still up there.

several storage advances in battery technology such as NiFe resurection and a ceramic solid state version of Sodium and sulphur at pricing that is competitive with lead acid also promise to be available soon, not next decade. Lithium ion looks like it will be too expensive for quite some time.

As for fuel at individual homesteads we haven't even begun to develop biomass power sources. Methane digesters can deliver usable quantitites and when economies of scale is employed these can help eliminate the nuisance of manure waste smell and a shortage of natural gas. This is a mature technology widely used everywhere except in North America. Biogas could serve as fuel for heat in places where there is a shortage of fire wood.

Our society has become so meshermized by the illusury promises of the oil industry that we have ignored all the other alternatives.

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#2

Re: Stirling Engine Technology

06/05/2011 1:00 AM

I thought it was spelled more like Tesla.

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: Stirling Engine Technology

06/05/2011 1:17 AM

Tesla is the electric car people Tessara is an alternative or renewable energy company as far as I know.

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#6

Re: Stirling Engine Technology

06/05/2011 10:56 AM

SES is still the producer, an owner was needed for the commercial array - Tessera Solar in Phoenix. I thought California put up an array, but either I misremember or something went bust.

They are a bit oversize for the average homeowner at 25Kw, which begs the question of conversion and storage to get you through the night, but also has the capacity if you can figure that out.

I was in New Mexico at the time, and power purchase agreements with local power were very uncertain and total manufacturing output was dedicated through 2015 or so.

They were putting together 'experimenter' kits, but only for people like Sandia.

http://www.stirlingenergy.com/index.htm

http://www.tesserasolar.com/north-america/index.htm

http://www.srpnet.com/environment/solar/maricopasolar.aspx

Perhaps this has all shifted in the couple years since I looked.

Emmett

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#7

Re: Stirling Engine Technology

06/05/2011 11:16 AM

I spoke too soon, both California projects were reorganized as subsidiaries of Tessara Solar. But beyond the siting information I can't seem to find much.

http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/solartwo/index.html

On June 30, 2008, Stirling Energy Systems Solar Two, LLC (SES Solar Two, LLC) submitted an Application for Certification (AFC) to construct and operate the Stirling Energy Systems Solar Two project (SES Solar Two), a solar dish Stirling systems project in Imperial County, California.

In February 2010, the company formally requested that the project change its name to Imperial Valley Solar. The company name was also changed to Imperial Valley Solar LLC.

http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/solartwo/index.html

On December 2, 2008, Stirling Energy Systems Solar One, LLC (SES Solar Three LLC and SES Solar Six LLC) submitted an Application for Certification (AFC) to construct and operate the Stirling Energy Systems Solar One Project (SES Solar One), a solar dish Stirling systems project in San Bernardino County, California.

In January 2010, the project formally changed its name to the Calico Solar Project. The applicant, SES Solar Three LLC, was merged into SES Solar Six LLC, and that surviving entity was re-named Calico Solar, LLC. Calico Solar is a subsidiary of Tessera Solar™.

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: Stirling Engine Technology

06/05/2011 12:32 PM

In other words the technology is there but no one is making smaller sized units.

Mind you a 25kW output is a reasonable amount for a few homes to share.

If the individual house system is configured correctly each home would be able to charge up their own battery bank to last them through the night.

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Stirling Engine Technology

06/05/2011 12:54 PM

Yeah, I considered setting up a co-op within a co-op.

But then you are running a business, and you'd better approach it as such. I had nothing like enough free time, and since my circumstance have changed.

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#12
In reply to #10

Good to see you Technology

06/05/2011 1:18 PM

Still up to your arsehole in alligators then?

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#14
In reply to #12

Re: Good to see you Technology

06/05/2011 1:25 PM

Seems to be the nature of programs with my current. We like to say un-manned doesn't actually refer to the vehicle as much as the program.

But it is good to be useful!

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#11

Re: Stirling Engine Technology

06/05/2011 12:59 PM

The sterling engine is suitable.The efficiency is proportional to heat sinking ,using water.The lower cooling water temperature gives good efficiency.Steam as working substance has to be examined.Since steam has good contraction upon cooling.The efficiency is expected to be higher due low back pressure,upon compression.

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#13
In reply to #11

Re: Stirling Engine Technology

06/05/2011 1:24 PM

The next step the salesman I talked to so many years ago at SES was co-generation and trying to figure out how to get use from the cooling fluid.

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#15

Re: Stirling Engine Technology

06/05/2011 7:33 PM

In 2009 Southern California Edison entered into a contract with Solar Millennium to purchase solar thermal power up to 726 MW.

Southern California Edison also entered into a contract with Stirling Energy Systems to buy electricity from a 500 megawatt, 4,600 acre (19 kmĀ²), solar power plant which was due to open in 2009. The purchase was cancelled in late 2010, as changes in technology reduced the cost of photovoltaic-based solar power to below that of solar Stirling generated power.

So I guess it was too expensive to operate (thanks Wiki)

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