Step 1: POWER
Electricity powers a linear motor
The core of our research and development focuses on the various applications of the Stirling cycle and the Free-Piston Stirling Engine (FPSE). The Stirling cycle is a thermodynamic cycle, meaning that it relies on the properties and effects of heat to function. Free-Piston Stirling cycle devices have the potential to run indefinitely at near Carnot efficiency.
The Stirling engine is unique in that it utilizes external combustion as opposed to internal combustion. (An example of an internal combustion engine would be the engine in your vehicle.) The FPSE will generate electricity as long as it is given a relatively even distribution of heat at an ideal temperature between 600° and 800°C. Potential fuel sources are: the sun, radioisotopes, geothermal, and a variety of combustible fuels (diesel, natural gas, propane, biogas, vegetable oil, etc.)
The Stirling cycle can also be utilized as a cooler if you "run it backwards," meaning that you input electricity and get cooling (heat lift) out. This product can be tuned to a variety of temperature set points ideal for applications including cryogenics, refrigeration and air conditioning.
The Stirling engine was invented nearly 200 years ago, making most people familiar with traditional kinematic Stirling engines. Kinematic Stirling engines extract power from the Stirling cycle via mechanical linkages. They are generally complicated and expensive to build on a large scale. They require a lubricant, seals and mechanical bearings, which combine to restrict performance and limit life.
By contrast, the Free-Piston Stirling Engine (FPSE) extracts power via a friction-free power piston that is directly coupled to a linear alternator using infinite life flexure bearings. Power can be varied over a wide range of output levels while maintaining high efficiency. The free-piston engine design incorporated into ITC's portfolio has a simple mechanical configuration and delivers a highly efficient, low- or no- maintenance product.