This thermal engine is designed to use heat concentrated from solar radiation, however, it can also operate on heat acquired from burning biomass or traditional fossil fuels. During the process of thermal-mechanical exchange, the engine utilises an innovative system of impulse steam generation and internal heat regeneration, which enables it to achieve high energy conversion efficiency. Its output can range from hundreds of W to tens of kW.
The key element of the thermal engine is the unique Impulse Steam Generation Principle system. The founders of GoldenSUN have been researching this principle since 1997. Impulse steam generation means producing impulses of high-pressure steam directly in the work area of a piston engine. In a similar fashion to the principle used in combustion engines, high pressure is created in the engine’s pistons in short, controlled intervals, which then drives the engine. The impulse steam generation principle utilises the energy of concentrated solar radiation that is brought to the engine’s work area via an optically permeable piston head. Thanks to the piston’s moving mechanism, part of the steam’s energy is converted into mechanical work (which can be used for production of electricity or for driving a pump), with the remaining energy being used for production of low-potential heat (e.g. in the form of hot water). The fundamental element of the impulse steam generation principle is a capillary-porous body (CPB) designed specifically for this purpose. Its work temperature ranges from 200 °C to 1,200 °C or even more, depending on the materials used. The CPB can be heated directly through radiation-absorption of concentrated solar radiation, or indirectly by burning biomass or fossil fuels. With regard to its propulsion potential and power output range, the engine is targeted at the concentration solar power engineering sector that focuses on the construction of solar powerhouses and on decentralised non-network appliances. In the case of biomass or fossil fuels utilisation, the engine is targeted at the market for co-generation and micro co-generation of electricity and heat in households, small enterprises and organisations. The engine represents an alternative to the well-known Stirling Engine.
Barriers and Drivers
The research and development was supported by a grant from the Slovak Research and Development Agency.
Its main advantages include high efficiency, simple design, and the expected high reliability and low price.
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