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DEKA Revolt: First Hybrid Stirling Engine Car – Powered by Anything!

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It’s been almost a year since I wrote about Stirling engines, and how heat can be transferred to a system and converted to do mechanical work. A Stirling engine works this way: you have two chambers communicating with each other: one that is being heated, and one cooling the hot air. The temperature difference between these two move a piston, doing mechanical work. The efficiency of Stirling engines is not dazzling at first sight, but it can be improved by using certain materials and shapes.

Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, has just released to the public a modified electric Ford Th!nk, hacked in his DEKA labs. DEKA is his company located in Manchester Millyard, UK. Kamen’s modified electric car has a Stirling engine onboard, into the trunk. He uses the stirling engine mainly to defrost and heat the car, because the systems doing that are huge power consumers. “You’re running a pure electric, which is enormously cheaper to operate and enormously more environmentally friendly,” Kamen explained to unionleader.com. “It’s the world’s first Stirling hybrid electric car”, he also said.

But the Stirling engine is not only used to defrost your windows or heat your car, it can also recharge your batteries with a higher efficiency than the diesel engine has. That why Kamen calls his Stirling engine “an insurance policy” for the electric car. Kamen even showed off his state registration for his new car, listed as a 2008 DEKA Revolt. “I’m a car manufacturer!” he grinned. “It’s so exciting!”

The beautiful part with the Stirling engine is that is can use any available heat, for instance if you have diesel, it will burn diesel. If you have gas, it will burn gas. I’m sure that it can, at least theoretically, be adapted to burn anything, from wood to plastic bags – the only condition is to burn them as cleanly as possible.

A norwegian business group is interested in Kamen’s hybrid Stirling car, willing to invest in it and have it developed for the market.

It’s interesting to see the until now toy engines being brought to “reality” and installed in a normal car. I’ve always wondered how did Dr. Brown, from “Back to the future” could fuel his future flying car from “Mr. Fusion”, out of anything in Marty’s recycle bin. Pretty neat, isn’t it?

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10 COMMENTS

  1. How will the Big Three Automakers and Big Oil make money if they can’t sell their underhood mechanical garbage that stinks. They will block Stirling engines any way they can.

  2. Cool idea,this will work perfect if you could also adapt your stirling to operate from a solar heat collector and get the car,s developer to integrate a solar panel into the roof,doors and sidepanels of their car.And of course get it to us the buying public.

    George Burton
    Reitz Free State South Africa

  3. Please don’t waste time putting this in their smaller car. Put it in the OX (also by TH!NK) and get it to market before the Volt and before the Tesla S. We need a Ford Model A (or Model T) for the new EV age. A bit of gas sounds much better then hundreds of pounds of batteries! Great thinking. Now, make some money on the idea! I need an electric vehicle to use the extra power off our roof.

  4. Kamen comes up with a lot of stuff–and the men and women at DEKA build it–but not much has come to market in recent memory that has been successful. If they can make this one stick–assuming it’s actually what they say it is–then I can imagine a huge number of uses for it that are much more urgent than cars. Houses need a ton of heating and we kinda require them to stay alive.

    Hope this one gets put to better uses than it is now.

  5. Dean Kamen is a US -not UK- inventor, originally from NY but now in Manchester, NH. He is the inventor of the Segway and numerous medical devices. What is lacking in the original Union Leader article is information on mpg, efficiecy, cost and the like.

  6. I must say that of all the people that I would like to meet Dean Kamen is at the top of the list and Mr Kamen if you ever have an openning to come see you in your garage I could be there in 5hrs.
    Thanks
    Mr Kamen and keep up the good / GREAT work.

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