The History of the Stirling Engine

    The stirling engine is perhaps the simplest form of engine.  The engine, then called the economiser, was first developed and patented by Rev. Robert Stirling in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1816.  Robert Stirling not only developed and built heat engines, but was also a reverend in the Church of Scotland.  His engine was later explained and further developed by Professor McQuorne Rankine in the mid 1800's.  However, the engine was never developed for common use.
The Stirling engine always took a back seat to more popular engine designs such as the steam engine and the internal combustion engine.  But today as people have forcasted an eventual end to the fossil fuel source, the stirling engine concept has regained the interest of many developers.  The engine can run on a variety of fuel sources and has a work output far closer to the theoretical ideal efficiency than most engines.  Progress has come a long way, and there are several companies now who develope stirling engines.  There has even been built a stirling engine that delivers 5000 hp.