Beacon 10 Stirling Engine Ideal for Home Electricity Generation (Albert D. Kallal)

The following comment was originally posted on this thread by Albert D. Kallal (the post has had minor edits for clarity)

@Omega wrote:
“The Beacon 10 [Stirling engine invented by Dean Kamen in partnership with NRG] is supposed to provide an absolute minimum to a village of people who have absolutely nothing. And I mean Village.”

No, that not the case at all. Dean Kamen started out looking to build a power source for those villages, but realized the design and technology is IDEAL for co-generation and residential use.

Quote from Dean Kamen

“the Beacon 10 is just right for businesses like laundries or restaurants that use a lot of hot water. With commercialization partner NRG Energy, he’s so far deployed roughly 20 of the machines.”

Kamen expects to put them into production within 18 months. “Within two years I would expect high-end builders to be installing them.”

But the 10 kw models are just the beginning. It won’t be long before Kamen has a smaller version ready for commercialization. He’s already been running a 2.5 kw Beacon at his New Hampshire home for four years.

The INTENT is a washing machine sized unit and SPECIFIC for the residential and home market.

The basic setup results means that the natural gas you use to heat your home and hot water ALSO results in generating electricity.

The electricity is essentially a free byproduct of heating your home.

@ Omega wrote:
>There is a reason society & power companies don’t use stirling generators. Contrary to the claims, They are not cheap, dependable nor durable.

Let’s not be silly. Durable compared to what? You think a steam turbine for home use is practical? Going to place a cot down there with a full time engineer to maintains the water levels and keep that system going?

No one is suggestion to take a “large” commercial sized steam generator and scale down to home size. And NO ONE is suggesting to scale up a sterling engine to replace a large coal plant. However keep in mind those large power plants take up several city blocks and have 100+ full time workers to maintain and keep that system running.

With a stirling engine you can run 24/7 – WITHOUT the maintenance.

In fact larger commercial systems generating electricity expend a LOT of waste heat for no good use. You THEN have 20% loss for electric transmission.

Why not send that SAME natural gas to on-site generation? The result is far more efficient.

The key concept here is stirling engines require FAR LESS mainnance then a typical gas (internal combustion) engine used to run a generator. The MAIN reason of course is that you don’t mix the fuel (heat source) with the internal moving parts and working fluid (in this case air or helium). Thus such engines are sealed, and run for years on end – just like your refrigerator.

The stirling engine runs ABSOLUTE CIRCLES around the internal combustion engine in terms of maintains and trouble free operation.

The cost of building such a durable engine is more then a “cheap” internal combustion engine, but not more then something that needs to be durable (run 24/7).

You don’t see small sterling engines on the end of a say a “weed eater” because the power to weight ratio in a sterling engine is LOWER then a typical small gas engine. However the efficiency of stirling engines can easy compare or even exceed internal combustion engines.

So you are DEAD wrong about durability issue.

So you are DEAD wrong about the efficiency of such engines. What power plant are you talking about that needs ZERO maintenance for say 10 years at time of 24/7 operation?

Please do share with the readers as to such a setup? Most solar batteries systems require more maintenance then the stirling engine – just to check battery fluid levels.

Do a simple BinGoole on co-generation. You find Honda and tons of example systems. Most are NOT sterling since the given manufacture ALREADY has good smaller gas engines. Some are using steam engines, but they tend to be more expensive then a stirling engine.

The simple matter is construction costs for a smaller sterling or “heat” engine is not “that” much more then a using a gas engine. And this is ESPECIALLY if you building engine that runs 24/7. Just try running that small portable Honda generator 24/7 for 5 years — forget it! (you have to change oil and even check the oil level). And they are NOISY!

The BECON 10 is DESIGNED exactly for operating 24/7 and MORE important the exhaust output can be vented directed to the room. And it is QUIET – no muffler is required. And the TARGET IS residential.

No one suggests your running a wal mart 5000w generator 24/7. (they not durable enough). And larger systems are turbines.

On the small residential/commercial level the Beacon 10 is IDEAL for home owners.

Listen to Dean Karmen speak about his design and look at the unit he has for home use – an absolute home run.

So they are MORE durable and HAVE LESS maintains than an internal combustion engine.

The burner using in such a system is much the same as a typical stove top burner which also does not need venting to the outside.

Like many technologies, they become practical on a smaller and smaller scale. Today most co-generation makes sense for hospital or apartment buildings. As technology improves (and cost of electricity goes up) then burning natural gas on site to produce heat (which you have to do anyway), and using such heat to produce electricity makes HUGE sense.

Do watch the above videos – feel free to follow up with any counter points – clearly the LONG list of co-generator systems available today don’t agree with your assessment.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
[email protected]