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Texas Space Grant Consortium Advanced Design Project
Solar Power From Space
Texas Christian University
By: Tanya Hardy
28 April 1997
The seven-member team at Texas Christian University has been working on the Stirling engine contribution to the Texas Space Grant Consortiumís Advanced Design Project. We hope to demonstrate how a Stirling engine in conjunction with a parabolic mirror can be an efficient way of obtaining solar power from space. We are approaching this project as a one-hour, one-semester junior research class. This semesterís activities consist of studying the feasibility of using Stirling engines for space power generation.
We have begun to study how a Stirling engine and reflective dish will work together in order to utilize the sun's heat to produce energy. In order to better understand how this type of system will perform, we have purchased a model engine with a solar concentrator. Along with the purchased motor, we have fabricated our own engine. We also purchased an alternator and used it in conjunction with our purchased model engine in order to convert the mechanical power into electrical power. We then ran tests on our system to see how much energy we could get out of the system.
Our objective this semester was to see if a Stirling engine/dish system can be used instead of photovoltaic cells. The Stirling engine/dish system is both more efficient and less expensive. We gave a good starting point for those who will continue this project and many of the aspects that need to be considered are discussed in this paper.
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