How to Make Simple Stirling Engine at Home ( With Pictures and Video)

by Aromal Karuvath on

Let’s make Stirling engine today. A Stirling engine is a heat engine that operates by cyclic compression and expansion of air or other gas (the working fluid) at different temperatures, such that there is a net conversion of heat energy to mechanical work. More specifically, the Stirling engine is a closed-cycle regenerative heat engine with a permanently gaseous working fluid.

Diy stirling engine Project: Stirling engines have a high efficiency compared to steam engines,being able to reach 50% efficiency. They are also capable of quiet operation and can use almost any heat source. The heat energy source is generated external to the Stirling engine rather than by internal combustion as with the Otto cycle or Diesel cycle engines.

Stirling engines are compatible with alternative and renewable energy sources, since it could become increasingly significant as the price of conventional fuels rises, and also in light of concerns such as depletion of oil supplies and climate change.

Recommending to Read: How to make Mini Wind Turbine -Complete DIY Guide

DIY Stirling engine

How to Make DIY Stirling Engine at Home


In this project, we will give you simple instructions to make a very simple DIY Stirling engine using test tube and syringe. You can make this simple Stirling engine at home. At the end of this project, we will discuss the importance of concentrated solar thermal power in the future of Stirling engine technology.

How to make a Simple Stirling engine Video



Components and Steps to make Simple Stirling engine

1. A Piece of  ACP or hardwood 

This is the base for your Stirling engine.  So it should be hard and stiff enough to cope up with the movements of the engine. Then, make three small holes as shown in the figure. You can also use plywood, wood etc.acp sheet

2. Marbles

In Stirling engine, these marbles perform an important function. In this project, the marbles act as a displacer of hot air from the warm side of the test tube to the cold side. When marbles displace hot air, it cools down.




3. Sticks, fishers, and Screws

Sicks and screws are used to hold the test tube in a convenient position to move freely in any direction without any interruptions. Watch the video- how can it be fixed on the Base.



4. Rubber Pieces


Buy an eraser and cut it into the following forms. It is used to hold the test tube tightly and to keep the test tube airtight. There should not have any leakage in the mouth part of the test tube. If so the project wouldn’t be a success.


rubber pieces

5. Syringe

The syringe is one of the most important and moving parts in a simple Stirling engine. Add some lubricants inside the syringe so that the piston can move freely inside the cylinder. When Air get expanded inside the test tube, it pushes the piston downward. As a result, Syringe cylinder moves upward. At the same time, marbles roll to the hot side of the test tube and displaces the hot air and causes it to cool down(decrease volume).




6. Test TubeThe test tube is the most important and working component of the simple Stirling engine. A test tube is made up of some special type of glasses (ex.borosilicate glass) that has a high heat resistant capacity. So it can be heated to high temperatures. 

 test tube

How a Stirling engine Work?

Some people say Stirling engines are simple. If that’s true, it’s true in the same way that the great equations of physics (like E = mc2) are simple: they’re simple on the surface, but richer, more complex, and potentially very confusing indeed until you really figure them out. I think it’s safer to think of Stirling engines as complex: lots of very poor videos on YouTube show how easy it is to “explain” them in a very incomplete and unsatisfactory way. (sorry.. me too)
To my mind, you can’t understand a Stirling engine simply by building one or watching one operating from the outside: you need to think hard about the cycle of steps it’s going through, what’s going on with the gas inside, and how that differs from what happens in an ordinary steam engine.
All that is required for the engine to run is that there should be a temperature difference between the hot and cold parts of the gas chamber. Models have been built that can run with just a 4oC temperature difference though commercial engines are likely to run on a few hundred degrees differential. These engines have the potential to be the most efficient form of combustion engine.
Stirling engines and Concentrated Solar Power
Stirling engines provide a neat method of converting heat energy to motion that can drive a generator. The most common arrangement is to have the engine at the focus of a parabolic mirror. The mirror will be mounted on a tracking device to keep the sun’s rays focussed on the engine.
*Stirling engine as Reciever
You may have played with convex lenses in your school days.. Concentrating solar power to burn a piece of paper or match stick, am I right? New technologies are developing day by day. Concentrated Solar thermal power is gaining more attention these days. Read more about World’s largest concentrated solar plant. Now Dubai Is Building the

World’s Largest Concentrated Solar Power Plant.

Above is a short video clip of a simple test tube stirling engine using glass marbles as the displacer and a glass syringe as the power piston.

This simple Stirling engine was built from materials that are available in most school science labs and can be used to demonstrate a simple heat engine.

Pressure-volume diagram for the cycle
Stirling engine PV diagram

Process 1→2          Expansion of working gas on the hot end of the test tube, heat is transferred into gas and gas expands thus increasing volume and pushing syringe piston upwards.

Make Stirling engine

Process 2→3           As marbles move to the hot end of the test tube gas is displaced from the hot end of the test tube to the cold end, as gas moves it gives up heat into the test tube wall.

make stirling engine

Process 3→4           Heat is removed from the working gas and volume decreases, the syringe piston moves downwards.

Process 4→1           Completes the cycle working gas moves from the cold end of the test tube to the hot end, as the marbles displace it, acquiring heat from the test tube wall as it moves thus increasing the gas pressure.

Written by: Aromal Karuvath

Hi, Making energy-related projects is my passion. I Hope you have enjoyed this project. I Need your help. You can suggest project ideas through commenting areas of any project. If it is simple and interesting we will credit you in that project guide.


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