What Does Your Car Have in Common with a Coke Can?

February 1st, 2016 No Comments

It may seem like a random question, but it has a more interesting answer than you probably expect. Believe it or not, cars and coke cans have one thing in common: an engine.

A coke can doesn’t naturally have an engine, but it can if you want it to. And we’re obviously not talking about an internal combustion engine, either. that might potentially be possible, but it would be a whole lot easier to make something called a Striling engine instead. Here’s how:

coke can stirling engineFirst off, you’ll need the right supplies. It all starts by creating a very simple hot air engines. Hot air engines work by turning air into what’s called a “working fluid.” This means that a heat source heats air, causing it to expand. The air is then cooled, causing it to contract. This thermodynamic cycle can be harnessed to move a piston, allowing it to perform mechanical work. All you need is a crankshaft and a flywheel to have the basics of an engine.

So here’s what you’ll end up needing: three soda cans, one balloon, two spoke  nipples, four 5A electrical terminal blocks, steel wire wool, a bottle cap from a plastic bottle, steel wire, copper wire, a dowel rod, electrical wire, fishing wire, three compact disks, a can opener, a utility knife, and super glue. And a tea candle.

Now we’re ready to get building. You’ll need to create a pressure chamber, which is just a vessel that holds the captive air (or whatever working fluid) within a closed system. This is where air will be heated and cooled during the thermodynamic cycle. The chamber needs a small, controlled leak in order to avoid being a barometer the only reacts in changes int eh barometric pressure of the air around it.

stirling engine34You’ll also need a driving mechanism, which will utilize the expansion and contraction of the air inside the pressure chamber in order to drive a crankshaft. That mechanism can be attached to either side of the engine or integrated into the structure of the engine.

Finally, you’re going to need a crankshaft, which some say is the most important part of any engine. The crankshaft determine timing, displacer travel, the speed of the flywheel, and the balance of the whole.

You’ll need a flywheel that stores the energy of the motor’s power stroke, and you’ll need a displacer to displace the air within the pressure chamber. The displacer in this project will be made out of some steel wool with a light wire running through the center.

Finally, there’s a heat box is just a stand for the engine to sit on. The heat source is below the engine. That’s where you set the tea candle to add a heating element into the system. You put cold water on the top to cool off the air, and you have to know how to do the rest to make the engine, which I don’t. Sorry but good luck making your own engine that’s pretty useless anyway but kind of cool I guess.



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