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Transportation Power Technology

Dean Kamen Combines Stirling Engine With Electric Car 324

Posted by timothy
from the is-there-anything-kamen-can't-do? dept.
Colin Smith writes "Dean Kamen, (inventor of the Segway) has combined a Stirling engine with a battery-powered electric vehicle based on the Ford Think to provide a fully decoupled electric hybrid car which can run on any fuel which can provide enough heat to run the Stirling generator. Think are also producing a purely battery 'Think City' car which is capable of 62mph and with a range of 126miles." Some stats on the Ford Think: Top speed, 55mph; 0-30, 6.5 seconds; Range, 60 miles on battery.
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Dean Kamen Combines Stirling Engine With Electric Car

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  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:23PM (#25697715)

    It's been refined for 160 years plus change. So it ought to be really spiffy, right? Well, no. There are definite upper limits to the efficiency of such a device. Most Stirling sites are very cagey when it comes to mentioning the efficiency of what they're selling. For good reason, it's terrible. Like 3 to 6 percent. That kinda explains why it's not in use everywhere, more like nowhere.

    • by OrangeTide (124937) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:31PM (#25697773) Homepage Journal

      I've seen simple steam boiler engines that are more efficient and more versatile than a stirling engine. And something like the Green Steam engine can be small, compact and cheap and operate in a closed loop system. (I've only seen the Green built up to 10hp, but I think theoretically it should scale to a fairly large size due to the short stroke)

      I think the important thing to realize is that people are out there trying new ideas and experimenting with old ideas.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ScrewMaster (602015) *

        I've seen simple steam boiler engines that are more efficient and more versatile than a stirling engine.

        You mean like this one [wikipedia.org]?

        • by OrangeTide (124937) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @09:37PM (#25699157) Homepage Journal

          Well those aren't very modern. there are far more modern designs that can reclaim heat in a closed loop system. Of course if I would love to own a Stanley Steamer, just from the pure novelty (and history!) of it.

          Green Stream Engine [greensteamengine.com] is a newer design and with the right condensers is very practical and can be built compact enough to fit inside an electric vehicle to complement the electric drive train. One could just run the steam engine at a fixed rate to constantly recharge a battery system, so that overall the generators will produce enough power to maintain a constant charge on the system. But short bursts of power that deplete the system more quickly can be used for acceleration. I believe that is the point of a hybrid electric.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jabuzz (182671)

        Why bother with a piston steam engine, when a turbine is way more efficient.

        Once you have decoupled the power generation from the drive using electricity and placed some batteries or other electrical storage in between you have overcome the main limitation of turbines that they don't rev well.

        You have also overcome the main limitation of steam, then need to get a head of steam up before you can move.

    • by raynet (51803) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:42PM (#25697873) Homepage

      Actually stirling engine in theory has almost perfect efficiency, unfortunately in practice this is difficult to do. A large, as in huge compared to car engine, stirling engine is easier to make efficient and there are several applications where these are used. And if you run it in reverse you have a great heat pump, often used in cryocooling etc.

    • by shbazjinkens (776313) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:45PM (#25697897)

      It's been refined for 160 years plus change. So it ought to be really spiffy, right? Well, no. There are definite upper limits to the efficiency of such a device. Most Stirling sites are very cagey when it comes to mentioning the efficiency of what they're selling. For good reason, it's terrible. Like 3 to 6 percent. That kinda explains why it's not in use everywhere, more like nowhere.

      Citation Needed

      20 years ago NASA had an automotive Stirling program. Read it and stuff it. [nasa.gov]

      They converted a Chevy Celebrity and the results show that the highway gas mileage was increased from 40 to 58 mpg and the urban mileage from 26 to 33 mpg with no change in gross weight of the vehicle. This is NOT a hybrid - it is Stirling only.

      By combining the efficiency of the Stirling with the get-up-and go of an electric this is a pretty good thing coming, and I've been waiting a while to see someone to produce it.

      • According to wikipedia, Stirlings have efficiency equivalent to conventional auto engines, but for the same power they're more expensive and heavier.

        As an external combustion engine it's easier to reduce emissions.

      • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @08:25PM (#25698613)
        Too bad that it's being produced by someone who thinks a $20K wheelchair and a $5K scooter are "practical." Maybe he's learned his lesson, but I bet this econobox will come in over $30K to the public.
    • by CubicleView (910143) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:47PM (#25697911) Journal
      From TFA

      It powers the features that would normally drain huge power from the battery, notably the defroster and heater.

      Not much point being efficient at generating electricity etc. if its primary function is to generate heat.

      • by ppanon (16583) on Monday November 10, 2008 @02:03AM (#25700531) Homepage Journal

        It powers the features that would normally drain huge power from the battery, notably the defroster and heater.

        Not much point being efficient at generating electricity etc. if its primary function is to generate heat.

        A Stirling engine is an external combustion engine. It generates waste heat as a byproduct of operation just like an internal combustion engine does. That allows the heat to be used for the defroster and heater. But it's primary function is no more to generate heat than it is with the engine in your car. However, unlike an internal combustion engine that requires fuel that can undergo controlled explosion, the stirling engine just requires a source of sufficiently high heat (efficiency of the stirling cycle is related to the difference in temperature between heat source and sink).

    • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:50PM (#25697955)

      I'm no engines expert, but I thought the good part of a stirling engine was that they often are just a few percentage points from theoretical maximum efficiency of a heat engine, about 50%???

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_engine [wikipedia.org]

      I thought the downside is that they take a while to get up to speed. Ford in the 1970s tested a small vehicle with such an engine and they could get it up to speed after 13 seconds. So it should be a natural fit as a battery charger in an electrical car...

      At least, that's what I thought when I looked into this a few years back (just as a curiosity, nothing professional mind you).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rolfwind (528248)

        I'd like to add I like Aptera's approach of putting a small engine in an electrical car and letting it charge the batteries. Many vehicles only use a tiny fraction of their horsepower to maintain speed and the rest is for acceleration, so in an car driven by electrical motors - the gasoline recharging engines can be significantly smaller; 5-20hp (? - my civic has 140hp in comparison); probably just a little more than what's needed to maintain targetted top speed (or up-hill considerations).

        And a gasoline o

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          I'd like to add I like Aptera's approach of putting a small engine in an electrical car and letting it charge the batteries.

          This is not a new idea, it's known as a "series hybrid". The approach has been used without batteries for many many years in your typical diesel locomotive, which is actually a diesel-electric system. Modern trains weigh too much to use a drivetrain. Sometimes small "pusher" engines are direct-diesel, but they just as often run on gasoline (better power to weight ratio since you can reasonably run higher RPMs on spark ignition than on compression ignition.)

          The major benefit of this approach is that you can

      • by EaglemanBSA (950534) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @09:31PM (#25699121)
        It is indeed the most efficient thermal engine we know of. Whoever said they're terrible in terms of efficiency is, for the most part, incorrect. They're difficult to implement because of the extremely tight tolerances needed to maintain such high efficiency, but you can achieve efficiencies at least as good as or better than a typical car engine (28% is usual for the car, 35-40% is easily achieved with a stirling engine, depending on the operating points).

        The problem isn't that they're difficult to get up tospeed, but rather that they tend to operate at a constant speed. This is related to the pressure inside the engine, so the only way to vary its natural operating speed is to add or remove pressure from the chamber. It was this added system that drove the Ford's engine to failure because of the extreme complexity needed to control the speed.

        This engine does make an ideal charger. I'm excited to see the results in production.
        • So are small Diesels (Score:3, Informative)

          by Kupfernigk (1190345)
          The catch with the Stirling is that it is always playing catch up to small Diesels. All over the world, small generators are powered by Diesel engines of one or two cylinders which can be very thermally efficient (35-45% is readily achievable at constant speed), and the sheer production volume and cumulative R&D makes them very cheap and reliable. The problem is in the US, where the environmental regulations favour gasoline over Diesel and claims of deaths from Diesel particulates are regularly used to
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:52PM (#25697965)

      The efficiency of a stirling cycle engine is a complete NON-ISSUE! for one simple reason.

      most stirling engine setups use WASTE heat. And that is the most intelligent use of the stirling cycle. turning waste into power.

      so efficient or not. you're getting energy for FREE from something that is complete waste.

      even 3% efficient is still 3% you got for FREE and worth it.

    • Like 3 to 6 percent. That kinda explains why it's not in use everywhere, more like nowhere.

      'cept for those submarines of the Gotland and SÃdermanland classes... Oh and it helps propel man into the depths of space... here [wikipedia.org].

      • Space, and deep sea, both have a tremendous "cold side" for the Sterling to dump into - which is key to making a Sterling shine.

        Even still, the post above quoting 3-6% efficiency is way off base.

    • by jacquesm (154384)

      check out the 'whispergen' for something quite a bit better than the figures you are quoting.

    • by JanneM (7445) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @08:39PM (#25698709) Homepage

      Stirling engines can be fairly efficient if you have the (space and weight) budget to make them big and heavy. For cars they're certainly not a very good idea.

      But the main point of Stirling engines isn't efficiency but the fact that they are not only fuel-agnostic; unlike combustion engines or steam engines they don't need any kind of combustion or medium phase-change to operate. Anything that can generate a temperature differential will do. They're also quiet and very reliable (few moving parts).

      That makes them well suited for things like backup generators, where you can store them for years on end, then run them on whatever fuel you can get hold of. They're used in submarines too, due to their silent operation and no need for actual combustion to generate enough heat. You could set up a Stirling engine to run on the waste heat from other processes. And they're reversible, so they're used as coolers for certain temperature ranges (overkill for a normal freezer but if you want much colder it's one way to go). Heat pumps are essentially Stirling engines.

      Shameless plug ahead: a blog post of mine on Stirling engines here: Stirling Engine [blogspot.com]

    • by itzdandy (183397)

      Sterling engines gain efficiency when the delta temperature increases. They are also better at producing a steady "static" power source rather than "dynamic" power source like an auto engine. They should be a efficient way to boost power by converting excess heat for any mechanical system into electrical power.

      If the fluid medium is chosen correctly, then the difference between outside air and the engine in a car could be an extra boost to a hybrid system with a small expense in weight because many plasti

  • by Chairboy (88841) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:24PM (#25697719) Homepage

    When he mentions it being 'disruptive', he's referring to the concept of disruptive technology as written about in The Innovator's Dilemma by Christensen:
    http://www.amazon.com/Innovators-Dilemma-Revolutionary-National-Bestseller/dp/0066620694 [amazon.com]

    Great read, and the concepts are laid out here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_technology [wikipedia.org]

    If you're not familiar with the concept, it's worth checking out.

  • by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:24PM (#25697721) Journal

    0-30, 6.5 second

    This should have been called a "Think Village", because I doubt any large enough city will have traffic that is forgiving enough to allow a small electric car to reach 30 (either kph or mph) in 6.5 seconds. Seriously, just start counting off 6.5 seconds right now.

    • Re:Think CITY?? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rei (128717) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:42PM (#25697875) Homepage

      I seriously don't know how Th!nk plans to stay in business with the City versus some of its competitors. Say, the Aptera, for example.

      Seating: 2 or 2+2 (Th!nk City); 2+1 (Aptera)
      Trunk: 6 cubic feet (Th!nk City); 15.9 cubic feet (Aptera)
      Top speed: 60-65mph (Th!nk City); 85-90mph (Aptera)
      Accel: 0-30 in 6.5 seconds (Th!nk City); 0-60 in less than 10 seconds (Aptera)
      Range: 110 miles (Th!nk City); 120 miles (Aptera)
      Charge time: 10 hours at 230V/14A (Th!nk City); 8-10 hours at 120V/15A or 2-3 hours at 240V/30A (Aptera)
      Construction: Plastic, aluminum, steel (Th!nk City); Layered composite monocoque (Aptera)
      Insurance category: Car (Th!nk City); Motorcycle (Aptera)
      Purchase price: $20-25k + $150-$200 per month battery rental (Th!nk City); $27k (Aptera)

      Seems a no-brainer to me unless you're one of those people who don't like the Aptera's looks (I think it's one of the most beautiful cars I've ever seen). I'm getting an Aptera :)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by JoeMerchant (803320)
        I have a wife and two small children, which one do I tow behind the Aptera in a trailer?
        • by Rei (128717)

          Ah, the "all vehicles must be one size fits all" myth rears its ugly head once again.

          I'd wager that half of all of the vehicles in the US see more than two passengers once a month or less. No, it's not a suitable replacement for the other half of all vehicles. But trying to make all vehicles do all jobs is a good way to ensure that they do one or more of those jobs poorly. A commuter or errand vehicle needs to get a passenger or two and some cargo from point A to point B. It doesn't need to be able to h

          • My daily driver has 2 seats (Miata), but after taking up one garage slot with that, the other better be able to haul all 4 at one time - if Miatae got 60mpg we could just take two, but sadly, they don't.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by swillden (191260)

          I have a wife and two small children, which one do I tow behind the Aptera in a trailer?

          I have a wife and four children and I want an Aptera. Sure, it won't work when the whole family is going somewhere, but neither does our normal four-door sedan (Saturn Ion II). But the Aptera will be a great car for commuting, running to the grocery store (which is 40 miles away) and lots of other running around.

          When we all go somewhere together, we need a vehicle that seats six comfortably. For that (and for camping, boating, hauling stuff, etc.) we have a Dodge Durango.

          Different vehicles for differ

    • Re:Think CITY?? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by smart.id (264791) <jbd@jd[ ]com ['87.' in gap]> on Sunday November 09, 2008 @07:46PM (#25698339) Homepage

      Offtopic, but related to your sig: AC comments aren't anonymous when logged in. Try posting as AC while logged out, then moderating your comment.

    • Heh. 0->30Mph @ ~6.5 seconds is exactly how I drive.
      The folks in my American city seem to tolerate it just fine.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by quenda (644621)

      I doubt any large enough city will have traffic that is forgiving enough to allow a small electric car to reach 30 (either kph or mph) in 6.5 seconds.

      There are plenty or large cites, from London to Bankok, where drivers are grateful to reach 30mph ever.

  • by mgkimsal2 (200677) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:28PM (#25697757) Homepage

    Wonder no more [wikipedia.org]

    "A Stirling engine is a closed-cycle regenerative heat engine with a gaseous working fluid."

    As with many of these hybrid and electric car announcements, it'd be great if I could really go buy one, and have it be inexpensive. We're always just "2-3 years" away from these things reaching market, and "eventually" being affordable by regular folks.

    Perhaps some Indian or Chinese company will make these and sell them here for under $10k. That would spark a huge revolution. Hybrids at $24k don't change people's buying habits enough to cause a huge shift in demand.

    For better or worse, I think we'll see an alt-energy evolution in the US, rather than a revolution.

    • by Rei (128717)

      We're always just "2-3 years" away from these things reaching market,

      Name one EV from any remotely serious contender that was 2-3 years away a few years ago that isn't available now.

      There were lots of serious commercial EV projects back in the late 90s and early 00s. Once the CARB ZEV mandate was overturned by the courts, however, the programs all disappeared. However, the recent high gas prices, a rising green movement, concern over global warming and an increasingly volatile middle east, and so on has

    • Not only that, but the mere pittance that you save on fuel efficiency of a hybrid, you certainly make up in the cost of repairing the overly complex system when it breaks.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rogerborg (306625)
        Ooh, the battery. What's that, a $7K item, and the failures start at 7 years (depending on your duty cycle)? Hands up anyone who would buy a 5+ year old hybrid with its original battery. Anyone? Anyone at all? You'll get a free bridge with it.
  • Diagram (Score:5, Funny)

    by russoc4 (1223476) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:28PM (#25697759)
    For those of you who do not know what a Stirling engine looks like, Wikipedia has a very detailed diagram [wikipedia.org].
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I can't find the vas deferens, is there another diagram?

      • Re:Diagram (Score:5, Funny)

        by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:47PM (#25697909)

        I can't find the vas deferens, is there another diagram?

        Well, there is a vas deferens between a Stirling Cycle engine and a conventional internal combustion engine.

    • From the Discussion page for that image:

      ...could this rendering be more phallic?
      - Yes. It could be animated.

  • by schnikies79 (788746) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:31PM (#25697775)

    Great acceleration and no range. I don't care if it takes me 12 or 20 seconds to reach 60mph if I can go 300mi/charge, with the heat, headlights and windsheild wipers on.

    Like I just did yesterday.

    • with the heat, headlights and windsheild wipers on.

      Forget those. I want a car that can do all that with the air conditioning on full.

  • Not fast enough (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MMC Monster (602931) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:33PM (#25697781)

    Ford Think: Top speed, 55mph; 0-30, 6.5 seconds; Range, 60 miles on battery.

    0-60, never. :-(

    The problem isn't the top speed being less than 60 mph. The problem is that as vehicles get close to top speed they tend to be less responsive to the accelerator.

    With a top speed of 55 mph, this is relegated to situations where you know you will never end up on a highway... Heck, most cities have some highways in them (I know that Manhattan, New York, has a couple where you can legally go 50mph and sometimes see people hit 75mph).

    • Re:Not fast enough (Score:4, Interesting)

      by OrangeTide (124937) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:40PM (#25697851) Homepage Journal

      If you want to go less than 60mph, excluding yourself from highway travel in the US (and most other countries). Then it seems like it would be easier to just get a scooter, a gasoline one can get over 150mpg these days. Electric ones exist too, but so far I have been unimpressed. But scooter might only cost you $3000 new, and one that is less efficient might only cost $300 used (but in good shape).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Cyberax (705495)

        Scooters are the most unsafe road vehicles. It's damn too easy to get yourself into a road accident. Most cities are just not planned for scooters or bicycles.

        I used a scooter for about two months and then sold it, because I value my health too much.

  • ...in the article. First is "The prototype vehicle, a zippy two-seat hatchback...can go 60 miles on a single charge": second, "It can use any fuel, from biodiesel to natural gas; it burns clean".

    On the first comment, 60 miles for some is less than their daily commute to work. And this is without any side trips to pick up kids, groceries, dry cleaning, etc. I realize that the big "Woo-Hoo" of this project is the back-up Sterling engine, but its main selling point is the no-emissions electric power.

    Second

    • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @07:19PM (#25698143)

      60 miles for some is less than their daily commute to work.

      Ah, yes, the horrors of a car that won't fulfill EVERYONES needs. How about this - the people who drive more than 60 miles in a day can get another car. Maybe one with a bigger range.

      People who need to drive 150 mph can get a powerfull sportscar - maybe even one that'll only do 2 mpg flat out.

      People who need to haul a ton of stuff could get a different kind of car. Maybe one with a nice big flat section where you'd have the rear seats. Maybe a "flat bed" of sorts.

      The people who have a need to drive 6 kids and their dogs every day could get something like a bus, but smaller. Miniature bus of sorts.

      And maybe people like you could start to consider that there is no car in the world, that fulfills EVERYONES needs at once.

      • by Rei (128717) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @07:35PM (#25698251) Homepage

        Exactly. On the one or two times per year that I need a truck, *I Rent One*. I don't keep a truck around at all times for the offchance that I might perchance need one. Why do people feel the need that they must have a vehicle that can do everything when they'll mainly just use it for their daily commute?

        • by apoc.famine (621563) <apoc,famine&gmail,com> on Sunday November 09, 2008 @09:50PM (#25699215) Homepage Journal
          Because if they don't have one, it makes them dependent on others when they need one. And there are many people who can't handle that.

          A fair number of my co-workers are amazed that I'll drive a small car for my daily commute. When I ask they why they use a massive pickup truck as their commuter vehicle, it's "in case I need it", or some BS about not being able to afford a smaller commuter car while keeping their large truck. For them, knowing that they have a massive four-wheel drive truck at their disposal at all times is worth the cost.

          For me, I make them feel good about themselves by asking to borrow it when I need a truck. Nothing is more manly than being able to help someone with your massive truck. It's the reason you bought it, right?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TheLink (130905)

            That sort of resource sharing was pretty useful in the "village" days. Very limited resources, if not enough people were willing to work together, everyone was in big trouble.

            If someone could work out a way to reduce the impact of assholes/crooks, it may well be that lot more people might be willing to share (lend) their massive trucks or other resources.

            Currently there seems to be some progress in the "giving" of resources no longer used with stuff like: Freecycle- http://www.freecycle.org/ [freecycle.org]

            Lending seems a

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by poopdeville (841677)

        People who need to drive 150 mph can get a powerfull sportscar - maybe even one that'll only do 2 mpg flat out.

        Nobody wants a sports/race car that only gets 2 mpg.

        Gasoline is heavy. And energetic. Better fuel efficiency means you can carry less of it, and get more (speed) out of it.

        Admittedly, sports cars are relatively wasteful, since they are tuned for maximizing speed. But this necessarily involves maximizing the amount of energy extracted from fuel, which is the SAME goal econo-car makers are trying

  • Thermodynamics 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrahamCox (741991) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:48PM (#25697927) Homepage
    Why don't the inventors of these various electric cars do some basic sums? If you're going to have any sort of hydrocarbon fuel involved then use the most efficient conversion possible to electric power given the space constraint of a practical vehicle. Right now that's a fixed-speed diesel engine at approaching 50%. All these 'exotic' heat engines like Stirling etc. are dead in the water when it comes to basic thermodynamic efficiency. If you don't start with a reasonably efficient conversion you are not going to end up with a vehicle that is even slightly practical.
    • by Rei (128717)

      1) Even the diesels in large trucks and busses are only about 45% peak efficiency
      2) Peak efficiency != average efficiency. Average efficiency is notably worse than peak.
      3) Engine efficiency != vehicle efficiency. You have to factor in parasitic losses.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by theapeman (1068448)
        But the engine in a truck or bus is not fixed speed. It varies according to driving conditions, and there is a loss in efficiency due to the need to allow for the flexible load. If you use an engine merely for charging the battery then it can be a fixed speed, fixed load engine - I.e. it can run at peak efficiency whenever it is running, and the efficiency can be higher than a more flexible engine.
    • Dean has a soft spot for Sterlings.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by evanbd (210358)

      Sterling engines in theory approach the Carnot limit. In practice, they do very very well compared to other engines, especially on a weight basis. However, they also have problems that normally make them inappropriate for cars. They don't do well with variable outputs, and they don't start up rapidly. Over the normal operating range of a car engine, diesels do much better. If, however, you could run it at a fixed speed and not care about startup time, then the Sterling engine starts to look good. And,

  • by guidryp (702488) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @07:04PM (#25698053)

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/10/27/sv_deankamen.xml [telegraph.co.uk]

    I read several articles on this when news first broke. The above indicates the Stirlin isn't even connected. When it is, it doesn't produce enough power to actually move the car. Kamen has a 1KW Stirling that is about the same size as what is pictured and other articles mentioned it as a "trickle charger".

    In this case the Stirling is essentially a novelty, it doesn't drive the car when the battery is run down.

  • Too Slow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by caller9 (764851) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @07:08PM (#25698075)

    Just by looking around on the road you can tell people are chomping at the bit to drive a tiny tin can looking car, especially if that car is also slow as hell. In fact, the less likely (real or perceived) someone with boobs will give it a second look, the better.

    Wait, scratch that, the exact opposite is true.

    How about something between the Tesla Roadster and the Smart car. A mid-sized sedan style vehicle that is a plug-in hybrid with a constant RPM diesel generator when needed. Or fuel cells whenever Hydrogen refueling becomes a reality.

    0-30 in 6.5 seconds? Sheesh. Better buy a dorky bumper sticker right off the showroom floor. This will give the people waiting behind you at the green light something to laugh at while they try furiously to pass you.

    • Re:Too Slow (Score:5, Funny)

      by Miseph (979059) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @07:57PM (#25698419) Journal

      Just by looking around on the road you can tell people are chomping at the bit to drive a tiny tin can looking car, especially if that car is also slow as hell. In fact, the less likely (real or perceived) someone with boobs *and shaved armpits* will give it a second look, the better.

      Fixed that for you.

  • by kramer (19951) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @07:49PM (#25698355) Homepage

    I'm looking forward to being able to toss a couple armfuls of firewood in the trunk of my car and running errands.

    • I'd like to have wood burning as an alternative... use whatever the pumps are selling normally, but having a choice is nice.
  • by cwsulliv (522390) * <cwsulliv@triad.rr.com> on Sunday November 09, 2008 @08:27PM (#25698623)

    The Stirling engine is pretty neat. It'll run on hot air.

    If we install a bunch of them in Washington DC, the energy problem of the US will be solved for good.

  • I see two classes of criticisms, both quite valid, but neither distracting from the beauty of the idea.

    First, the Ford Think wasn't well-thought. 0-30 in 6.5 seconds, with an electric motor? Excuse me?!?
    Second, nobody can explain why the Stirling Engine was chosen for this prototype, when many more efficient choices seem to be available.

    Nevertheless, the idea is solid. Let's have a hybrid that's basically an electric with fuel assist. Like the Aptera, but perhaps sacrificing a bit of efficiency for more con

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