U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

SunShot Initiative

Maintenance-Free Stirling Engine for High-Performance Dish CSP

Photo of two silver, metallic cyclinders on a white platform.

A prototype 30-kW Stirling engine on test.

Infinia, under the CSP R&D FOA, is developing a 30 kW CSP system that utilizes a multi-cylinder, free-piston Stirling engine to achieve the goal LCOE of $0.07–$0.10/kWh by 2015 and $0.05–$0.07/kWh by 2020.

Approach

Infinia is taking a three-phased approach to creating an efficient, cost-effective, and highly reliable Stirling engine:

  • Phase I – Provide prototype engine preliminary design and preliminary LCOE estimate
  • Phase II – Build and demonstrate a 30-kW engine laboratory prototype
  • Phase III – Deliver and field test a production-like, prototype 30‑kW Stirling engine

Innovation

The Infinia design is a free-piston system utilizing helium as the working fluid. Two pistons suspended on springs are configured in a double-acting, circular arrangement. There are no cranks and no contact or wear upon surfaces, and phasing and tuning is done through the springs. Leak rates are kept sufficiently low, and this solid-state power conditioning leads to a breakthrough in reliability and durability, requiring virtually no maintenance.

Publications, Patents, and Awards

At this time, this project does not have published articles, patents, or awards.

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