Find all your DIY electronics in the MakerShed. 3D Printing, Kits, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Books & more!

N0908Kamenscar 275Px
N0908Car 275Px
Dean Kamen is working on a Stirling engine car and it’s on the road…

The same day that Ford and General Motors announced catastrophic third-quarter losses, Dean Kamen was showing off his new electric car.

The prototype vehicle, a zippy two-seat hatchback designed with more than a passing resemblance to the Volkswagen Beetle, can go about 60 miles on a single charge of its lithium battery and with practically zero emissions.

The secret?

“It’s the world’s first Stirling hybrid electric car,” its inventor said with a flourish.

Installed in the car’s trunk compartment is a Stirling engine invented at DEKA, Kamen’s technology company in the Manchester Millyard. It powers the features that would normally drain huge power from the battery, notably the defroster and heater.

That leaves the battery primarily for propulsion. “You’re running a pure electric, which is enormously cheaper to operate and enormously more environmentally friendly,” Kamen explained.

And if the battery does run low, the Stirling can recharge it, so you’ll never get stranded, he said. That’s why Kamen calls his Stirling engine “an insurance policy” for the electric car.

Kamen showed off his state registration for his new car, listed as a 2008 DEKA Revolt. “I’m a car manufacturer!” he grinned. “It’s so exciting!”

More:
Make Pt1178
The Two-Can Stirling Engine- The Stirling engine has long captivated inventors and dreamers. Here are complete plans for building and operating a two-cylinder model that runs on almost any high-temperature heat source. MAKE 07 – page 90.

Make Pt1180
Dean Kamen: The Dean of Engineering. Wasting time is an unspeakable crime, says Segway inventor Dean Kamen. MAKE 04 – page 28.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


Related

Comments

  1. What is the Power Source says:

    So, what is the Heat Source and Cold Sink that this Stirling Engine gets it’s power from?

  2. Anonymous says:

    From the article: “It can use any fuel, from biodiesel to natural gas”
    I don’t expect that a particular car would be able to use both biodiesel and natural gas, given that one is a liquid and the other a gas, but in principle the Stirling engine should be able to use any fuel that can be burned on its hot side.

    I would expect the cold side to be the air, perhaps with a radiator like in a ICE car.

  3. dokein says:

    The linked story explains that it can use any fuel but doesn’t go into the details. Presumably there’s some sort of fossil-fuel burning heater attached to one end of the Stirling engine (with a duct tied into the climate control system). And the cold sink must just be the ambient nippy New Hampshire air. If he wants it to sell it outside of New England and Norway, I hope he’s already working on how to squeeze an absorption chiller into that same tiny little trunk.

  4. Aleksander says:

    Well, actually he is a car modifier IMO.
    the base car is a Th!nk (or Stink as I like to call it, and I’m norwegian..) http://www.think.no for more info on the car

  5. Tanner Smith says:

    I’ve seen the car at the FIRST Championships. Very cool.

    http://www.tssoftware.net/?p=49

  6. Tassie says:

    Great to see this done… from memory, and from one of the early Popular Science magazines, this was already done with an 8hp Stirling Engine in the the back of an Opel (if memory serves me correctly) that General Motors trialled back in the 1960′s. The Stirling engine was in the rear or trunk of the car, whilst a set-up of batteries were in the front under the bonnet alongside an electric motor. At that stage, GM had already been testing the idea of Stirling Power for at least 9 years. Mileage wasn’t great, the batteries gave the car about 15-30 mile range, though the Stirling engine extended this to about 50-60 miles. I’m sure a bit of digging around on the net will find this info. Still, my hat goes off to the effort!

In the Maker Shed