There’s energy all around us, just waiting to be tapped. Whether it’s a hot cup of coffee on a cold day, light from the sun, scented candles, or waste heat wafting from electronics, it’s all potential power waiting to be harnessed! This is the world of the Stirling engine.

Have you ever tried this fun experiment? Put a tightly filled balloon in the freezer. When you return, you’ll find it shrunken. Bring it out into the warm room again and it will expand!

What if we could use these expanding and contracting states to move a piston? This is the principle behind the Stirling engine, invented and patented by the Reverend Doctor Robert Stirling, in 1816. It’s a simple idea, for a very simple engine. Let’s build one!