Israel-based maker of Stirling engines and energy systems Qnergy has successfully demonstrated its solar thermoacoustic power generation unit, producing 1 kW of electrical power during a field test at its test facility in Ogden, Utah.
Engineers fitted Qnergy's TASE-3 traveling-wave thermoacoustic Stirling engine to a solar concentrator. The engine uses the physical interaction between heat and sound to produce acoustic power.
Eran Gonen, lead physicist and project director at Qnergy, explains that pressurized helium inside the engine is heated above the critical temperature gradient, producing intense sound waves traveling through the gas. These are amplified by means of heat exchangers and converted into electricity using linear alternators.
‘My team and I are thrilled with this successful solar thermoacoustic demonstration,’ Gonen says. ‘It not only surpasses the previous record of 200 W set last year by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, but also moves the needle closer toward achieving highly efficient, sustainable, commercial electricity generation utilizing game-changing thermoacoustic technology.’
Hagay Dvir, vice president of business development at Qnergy, says solar thermoacoustic technology is potentially more reliable than other Stirling-based engines and promises to be 25% less costly to operate than such systems using conventional fuels.