A new type of reciprocating solar engine utilizing small particles to absorb concentrated sunlight directly within the cylinders is described. The engine operates by drawing an air-particle mixture into the cylinder, compressing the mixture, opening an optical valve to allow concentrated sunlight to enter through a window in the top of the cylinder head, absorbing the solar flux with the particles, and converting the heat trapped by the air-particle mixture into mechanical energy with the downward stroke of piston. It differs from other gas driven heat engines using solar energy in three main respects. First, the radiant flux is deposited directly in the working fluid inside the cylinder; second, the heat is directed to the appropriate cylinder by controlling the solar flux by an optical system; third, the gas is heated during a significant portion of the compression stroke. The thermodynamic efficiency of the engine is calculated using an analytical model and is compared to several other engine cycles of interest.

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