The Acoustic Stirling Heat Engine (More Efficient than Other No-Moving-Parts Heat Engines)

Praxair and the Los Alamos National Laboratory have been recognized for their economic research and development into achieving a cost-effective process of using sound waves instead of moving parts to convert gas into liquid. The Acoustic Stirling heat engine has a long history dating back to the invention of the Stirling heat engine invented by famous Scottish minister Robert Stirling before gasolene or diesel engines. Today this heat engine can convert heat into acoustic energy that requires a device that composes of only the pipes and conventional heat exchangers. Acoustic refrigerators or refrigerators with pulse tubes can use this acoustic energy as it creates energy from heat to provide refrigeration or generate electricity through a linear motor to alternate current or other electroacoustic energy convertors. The engine already has 30% efficiency which could create plants processing liquified gas with a possible future use in residential energy.

The World Oil® magazine announced the winners of the “New Horizons” awards and it was no surprise that Praxair received “The New Horizons Idea Award,” for their work alongside the National Laboratory of Los Alamos using thermoacoustics to liquefy natural gas.

Instead of using moving parts to convert gas to liquid these engines use sound waves. A prototype developed earlier was able to produce 140 gallons LNG per day, now the researchers are nearing development of a 500 gallon per day machine. Prax air and the Los Alamos National Laboratory have been given recognition as this would seriously meet demands for liquifying natural gas in many other demanding situations.

The research work of Praxair and the Los Alamos teams has been awarded the 1999 R&D 100 award! The R&D 100 awards program is designed to honor commercial research highly significant in materials, commercial product development and research. The competition is open and judged by experts in technical areas selected by the R&D magazine. Technical criteria is used to determine the highest significant selection of entries.

The Leos Alamo researchers who worked on this project include: Greg Swift, Scott Backhands, Carmen Espinoza, Chris Espinoza, David Gardner, and Mike Torres. (the Condensed Matter and Thermal Physics Group) (MST-10).