During the early days of the Industrial Revolution, the brothers James and Robert Stirling were looking for a safer alternative to the conventional steam engines of the time. In 1815 they invented their so-called Stirling Engine and built a first prototype. Because the Stirling Engine used air instead of steam as working fluid it avoided the risk of explosion of the steam engines, all too common in those days. The Stirling Engine is a vastly different heat engine from the internal-combustion engine in your car or a steam engine. It has the potential to use any heat source as fuel and can be more efficient than a gasoline or diesel engine. As the limits of our fossil energy resources became obvious, scientists and engineers recalled the old Stirling principle to use alternative energy sources. During the 1980's Prof. I. Kolin (University of Zagreb), Prof. J. Senft (University of Wisconsin) and others developed the first engines using an adapted Stirling cycle with a temperature differential below 20 degrees Celsius. Their work provides the possibility of designing Stirling Engines powered by un-concentrated sunlight or waste heat.
Our Stirling Engines demonstrate the conversion of low temperature heat and light into mechanical energy. These engines are highly suitable as demonstration models for physics courses in schools and universities, to illustrate elements of classical mechanics and thermodynamics, as well as the principles of solar energy conversion.