The Stirling engine, as an external combustion engine, can be powered using a variety of heat sources including the continuous combustion process thus achieving significantly reduced emissions. Energy systems powered by a Stirling engines meet the needs of various applications not only in the domestic and industrial sections but in military and space gadgets as well. Stirling engines can also be used as cryocoolers in medical applications where they are called to achieve very low temperatures. Each energy system using Stirling Engine optimizes its performance in specific operating conditions. The system capacity depends on the geometric and structural characteristics, the design of the unit, the environment in which the engine is allowed to it works as well as the size of the load. In order to study the function and the efficiency of Stirling energy systems a CHP SOLO 161V -ALPHA TYPE STIRLING ENGINE was installed in the Laboratory of Applied Thermodynamics of NTUA. A thermodynamic analysis has been conducted using appropriate computing codes. The effect of each independent variable on the system performance was investigated. The study was divided into distinct levels of detail, bringing out each variable. Initially, the performance of the heat engine was examined assuming an ideal regenerator. Then, the effectiveness of the regenerator was evaluated as well as its effect on the engine performance, while the effect of the pressure drop and the energy dissipation on the engine efficiency was also investigated. Measurements were conducted using different operational conditions concerning the heating load of the engine. The effect of the geometrical characteristics of the regenerator on power output and engine performance was examined based on the results of a simulation analysis. Moreover, the power output and the efficiency of the machine in relation to the thermal load of the unit and the average pressure of the working medium were investigated. Major performance input characters affecting geometrical and operational parameters of the unit were identified leading to unit optimization with specific combinations leading to increased system performance. Simulation results were validated by comparison to corresponding values obtained by relative experiments conducted with the SOLO unit. Finally, a sensitivity analysis was performed in order to investigate the effect of the operating conditions on the performance of an alpha type Stirling Engine.

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