Even though I am skeptical about CAGW this does not mean that I think we should be complacent about using non-renewable resources like coal and oil. If there are more efficient lower cost methods for driving economies and our lives in the future why not move towards them? I have been intrigued by Stirling Cycle engines for a very long time. Probably since my father told me about them when I was a boy (a long time ago :-)).
I am not ideologically against nuclear power for those who might draw that conclusion from what I have just said. I am however somewhat skeptical about the costs of nuclear power. Have we ever been given the real cost figures for nuclear power generation? Much of what has been built in the past seemed to be for multiple reasons… power generation, strategic arms production, research etc. If someone can give me good data on this I am very open to persuasion (this might be another thread one day). Yes I am aware of Thorium reactors and Pebble Bed reactors.
Stirling Cycle engines have been used in the space program and in various other applications but have never really become a mainstream piece of technology. This surprises me. They can be manufactured to be more efficient than steam engines and without the danger of high pressures that steam requires. In fact that is why the Rev. Stirling invented them – to reduce the deaths that were common in coal mining operations from exploding steam engines. I clearly remember the day that I went into the Science Museum in London and was chatting to one of the friendly curators oiling one of the Steam engines. I asked him about Stirling Cycle engines and he gave me directions to the only example that they had in the museum. What a thrill to be able to see this marvelous little Phillips generator!
One of my other obsessions is with Hydrogen as a fuel. I really do think that this will eventually become the universal fuel. So maybe a good project might be to build a prototype and run it off hydrogen?
We had a 5 hour blackout the other evening – it would be nice to be able to have a bath without using mains power!