Sterling Engine..........just another 'IT'

Remember IT, you know the most awesomest invention ever. Get ready for ‘that’, as in ‘that was another waste of our time’. Kamen thinks he developed a sterling engine, oh goodness. NASA hasn’t even been able to do that, and they have sent people to the MOON. A feat much more complicated than installing gyroscopes on a two wheeled platform. Don’t get me wrong, I love Kamen, he has made my gf’s life so much easier with the insulin pump, and giving clean water to all the malnurished dessert people in Africa. BUT, this is another waste of our time!

What do you all think of this???

So I am going to guess that who ever made this just violated forum rules by making a second account just to post this.

Also just because NASA couldn’t do it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done.

Sorry kyle, I use to have an account on here forever ago, but I forgot the username and password, and the email it was connected to is no longer in service. I never posted back then, I thought it would be nice to give back to the community now. I saw that article on today, and just got furious!

Excellent article. Thanks for the read.

If research and engineering is a waste of our time, perhaps we should all just become businessmen and play games with other peoples’ money all day long. That worked out well recently right?..

Just a note, I don’t think you’ll become too popular on these fora by being “furious” at Dean Kamen. His work will one day save the world by improving the quality of life for all. He is an incredible man with an even more incredible dream. It is unfortunate you cannot fully realize this.

So, how do you consider this thread to be “giving back to the community”? I enjoyed the article, and am very impressed with most of the things Kamen has done. Have you seen any of the video of the prosthetic arm that he developed in less than a year? It’s AMAZING! Just what is it that you think is such a waste of time? The Sterling Engine? And whose time is being wasted?

From the article you linked to:

Both devices have already been proved amazingly effective: one six-month test has used a Stirling engine to provide electric light to a village in Bangladesh, powered by burning the methane from a pit filled with cow dung; Slingshot has undergone similar tests in a settlement in rural Guatemala.

I’m honestly having trouble figuring out what your problem is …

I am disappointed by your post.

As a FIRST alumnus, I am disappointed that you were unable to gain the respect and wonder that FIRST attempts to instill.

As a FIRST mentor, I am disappointed that you would put effort into denigrating the value of engineering to FIRST students.

As a Chief Delphi community member, I am disappointed that you chose this place to do so.

As a world citizen, I am disappointed that you do not choose to see this as a well intentioned attempt to provide a more accessible energy source that can provide electricity to those who so desperately need it.

As a DEKA employee, I am disappointed that you are unable to share in our philosophy: Impossible is a fleeting notion.

Many of the projects we work on will never see the light of day. This is a direct consequence of the difficult nature of what we do - if we limited our projects to the realm of the easily feasible, we would never be able to do things like the prosthetic arm. We try to limit ourselves only by physics. As the first person on the planet to communicate over a quantum encrypted AOL instant messenger session, I try to ignore those limits as well.

If you do find a team that needs a “very smart engineery person”, my sincere hope is that the students on that team will provide you with a second chance to become inspired by FIRST. I know that my students changed my perspective, I hope your students change yours.

I agree that the Stirling engine could be a big waste of effort…but I’ll be interested to see how he does with it…

(the basic problem with the Stirling engine is that it is indeed efficient…if you have the operating fluid at a very high pressure…which usually results in an expensive, finicky machine)

Hey, sorry to sound pedantic, its just that forum is a neuter latin noun, and thus its plural is fora! =D don’t mean to be mean, just trying to increase the knowledge level of everyone!

NASA didn’t? Gee, that will be a surprise to everyone that worked on the Stirling engine project that successfully transitioned the completed technology into commercial application years ago. And it will be a real surprise to all the people at Sunpower Inc that have been selling Stirling engines based on the NASA-developed technology for nearly a decade.



Who said anything about my wonder and respect about FIRST? I love FIRST! its just… You know, sometimes people are good at one thing (organizing competitions like first) and bad at others (inventions). It’s not really a huge dig at DK, its just… my mom always told me to stick to what you’re good at, you know?

Welcome back to FIRST! Things have changed a little bit in FIRST and in these forums, so do take plenty of time to observe before you start posting a lot. Hint: when you do post, the spell checker is now automatic, so any words with a dotted red line under them are being flagged; a right click on the word will give you possible corrections. I don’t know if the spell checker works with thread titles.

Back on topic: If you read the entire article carefully, you’ll notice that DEKA’s clean water machine relies on a functioning Stirling engine. These devices exist, and they work. As the article states, funding is the problem: “‘The big companies…long ago figured out – the people in the world that have no water and have no electricity have no money.’” Many of the technological problems with the Stirling engine have been solved, although more refinement is needed. (Heck, more refinement is needed on the automobile, and apparently on the iPhone and Wii as well!)

If anyone can get a Stirling engine to work well in an automobile, more power to him or her! Just over a hundred years ago, the internal combustion engine didn’t work very well; once it was perfected to a certain level, the automobile and the airplane followed in short order.

As for the slow acceptance of the Segway, I think economics also plays a role–even more so than the crazy hype that preceded its unveiling. Most people think it costs too much, especially when they apply the customary transportation economics: “For $5,000, I can get a decent used car that can carry 4 people and their luggage, and it can go 80 miles per hour.” The fact is that Segways are still being produced and sold, just at a lower rate than wild speculation predicted. Time will tell if they really are “successful.”

IMO, one of the most relevant quotes from the article for this thread is:

“‘You know, you have to be optimistic. If you weren’t, you’d never start a really difficult project. That’s why other people didn’t start it - they’re rational. So I start these big projects. And in my heart of hearts, I know, boy, a lot’s going to go wrong. You just have to be willing to fail a lot and somehow keep your optimism. Well, in the case of the arm, we didn’t do a lot of the failing. It went together beautifully.’”

Read about any inventor that has truly made a product (or products) that will change the world and you will find one thing in common. A lot of failed attempts. Why, because it is new and uncharted territory. If you have ever worked in a research area you will understand that no one venturing into the unknown succeeds every time.

I got the opportunity to work in one of these area in the Auto industry. These engineers were ridiculed by their fellow employees. Their failures were frequently cited. That being said, they had working KERS system 2 decades before F1 is using the technology. They made dual-clutch automatic transmissions in 1/3 the time of other more formal companies. They also are responsible for numerous inventions that we may see on future cars. People didn’t get it because it wasn’t main stream until a decade or 2 later.

Being a Visionary is a bit of a curse. There are a lot of human behaviors that completely defy logic, but are accepted as standard convention. Being a successful inventor (Like Dean is) is even tougher because you have proven “the World” wrong on many occasions. Unfortunately most of the World doesn’t get it. Our society loves to build pedestals and put people on them. What it seems to love even more is to watch them fall off of those pedestals.

There are all sorts of technical issues to getting “useful” energy conversion from a sterling engine, but they are readily available (you can buy them online that run literally off of the heat from the palm of your hand). I saw a kid in HS make a working sterling from coffee cans, a lawnmower wheel, ans some copper lumbing with some steel wool. Where others failed is they tried to drive a car around using the Sterling like a conventional Gasoline engine. Not a good plan. Using it as an efficient and flex fuel generator… they might be on to something.

Dave’s right. I’ve stood next to operational, HUGE, Stirling engines. Not impossible. Just more challenging that making oatmeal.

How do you define “good at” inventions? I did a cursory search the Patent and Trademark office for patents with “Kamen; Dean” in the inventor name field and got 127 granted patents and 75 applications. That seems to me to fit most follks definitions of “good at”.

There are a large number of things I would define as a waste of time and money long before naming Dean’s invention which are intended to better the living standard of people who may not be able to do it on thier own.

I think also that you are missing the point be calling the Segway “Dean’s most awesomest invention”. I for one, think he will change many more lives in much larger ways with the iBOT. It may not change the life for the entire population, but it will effect the lives of many individuals.

Here is what I think (since you asked):

Dean Kamen is one of the best living inventors. For you to bash him for being “bad”, even while knowing that he invented something that makes the life of your friend easier, is extremely short sighted.

Even so, if I turn your logic onto other famous people…

Babe Ruth probably should have “stuck” to pitching for the Red Sox. He was a pretty good pitcher.

Albert Einstein should have “stuck” to working for his uncle and father.

Nikola Tesla probably should have backed down to Thomas Edison and not tried to develop this new sort of electricity called AC.

Dave Grohl probably should have relaxed and lived off of Nirvana royalties.

I vehemently disagree.

Andy B.

how about this one. Andy Baker should have “stuck” working at Delphi as an engineer instead of making products which help young inventors with their creations. :slight_smile:

best line ever

and people youtube it there are tons of working sterlings out there may of which were made in the 1800s with less efficient materials with lower tolerances
there are also many diaphragms sterlings out there made of soda bottles, latex balloons, cardboard, wire I have even seen one power a canoe

I’m disappointed in your lack of imagination and how you pretty much made a attack thread what if deka was a team would you tear down their ideas??


I’ve been trying to convince him of that, but there’s no talking sense into that Baker guy.


Seriously though, nothing fun is easy. Breaking the sound barrier was once “impossible”, too.

i rather enjoyed the article.

my roommate made (from scratch) a small model stirling engine…it works rather well. it will run off the heat of your hand, sunlight, an ice cube, or anything else that is relatively hot or cold.

i’ve also looked a lot into research others have done on making stirling engines more practical, and i am excited to see dean putting so much effort into them!

as for the original posters views, i think its safe to say he is in the minority on his opinion so lets not make a big deal about it…

Anyone familiar with Theromacoustic Stirling Heat Engines (TASHEs)? No moving parts - just oscillating high pressure helium gas available to do your bidding (aka “mechanical work”). My company primarily uses them in combination with Pulse Tube Cryo-coolers (no moving parts there either). Lots of interesting applications. Fun to think of what the lifespan of these devices might be - hundreds of years? Thousands?

The originally poster was clearly just trolling for some reason. I suppose I’ve taken the bait as well…