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Dean Kamen Experimenting with Stirling Engine for Think City

Business 2.0. Dean Kamen, the inventor behind the Segway and numerous other innovations, is experimenting with putting a Stirling heat engine in a Think City electric vehicle as a range extender.

Right now this is just a hobby for the inventor, but Kamen thinks the car could be the killer app to move toward his vision of the future: mass-produced Stirling engines powering the world’s off-the-grid villages.

If Kamen makes the Stirling work in an electric vehicle, Willums will get another power plant for his open-source car and a way to overcome drivers’ fears that they’ll run out of electrons in the middle of nowhere.

And that’s just the start. Both men see the City as part of a network of mobile generators that can draw energy from the power grid and send electricity back during periods of peak demand. “If you have enough Thinks out there, you would literally change the architecture of the grid,” Kamen says.

Stirling engines are external combustion engines. The heat source for the conversion of heat energy to mechanical energy is external to the cylinders, and can be obtained from any reliable source, such as combustion of fuel, solar, radioactivity, exothermic chemical reactions, and so on.

(A hat-tip to Dick!)



This is a concept I've been visualizing as well re: transport energy grid feedback. Everything becomes an energy producer, from city metropolis buildings to the future transit systems. There is a great waste of space in concrete roads. Cool if Dean is on it. I see transportation quite different in the future in comparison to todays rush hour gridlock. Imagine managed traffic, secure and fast. And therefore the vehicles, mindset of people utilizing individual transport will change.

Offroad will have new meanings for cars as they will become hobbies, not necessities in the future. Roads will be made green again in the cities and concrete will recede into oblivion.

The possibility of a solid fuel hybrid is interesting. No need to convert to ethanol or some other kind of biofuel.

Roger Pham

Stirling eng has low power to weight and to volume ratio, but would be okay to extend the range of a BEV since the engine can run at a steady-state to recharge the battery. However, between the volume taken by the battery and the volume taken by the engine, there would be no more room for luggage, not to mention the reduction in efficiency due to the additional weight of the engine.


Fascinating article. It's great to see so many interesting ideas out there (from V2G to series hybrids to whole new business models for vehicle retailing). Interesting too how interested Google is in all of these. It's good to have a heavy hitter of their quality on board!

Brian OH

The Stirling Engine may have some small additional
benefits when added to revolutionary technologies.
Those revolutionary technologies must first come
to fruition. Eg. EV or PBEV.

mike holt

put me on a newsletter list please. mike

mike holt

put me on a newsletter list please. mike

Scott Torbeck

So much gong on these days.... !
Please add me to your newsletter mailing list.

Larry Kobelia

Please add me to your email list.

Thank you for your continuing persistence to achieve a practical alternative economical power sourced vehicle
for the mases.

Henry Gibson

Those with less money can rip the guts out of a Honda inverter generator and put them in the TH!NK. Burn bio n-Butanol if you want to stay pure. ..HG..

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