Definition of Stirling engine in English:

Stirling engine


  • A machine used to provide power or refrigeration, operating on a closed cycle in which a working fluid is cyclically compressed and expanded at different temperatures.

    • ‘Modern designs of Stirling engines have mechanical efficiencies over 20% which makes them the highest mechanical efficiency for small scale direct thermal conversion from a thermal source.’
    • ‘Probably his biggest love was the Stirling engine, or hot air engine, although he failed to turn it into a commercial success.’
    • ‘Because the parts for the Stirling engine are fairly easy to machine, the materials are common, and fairly inexpensive, an assembly line type of production would be fairly easy and inexpensive to set up.’
    • ‘It may be propelled by a Stirling engine, an age-old device which consumes little power and produces miniscule emissions, but which no-one has ever figured out how to mass produce cheaply.’
    • ‘Ginger, also known as ‘IT’, is said to be some sort of personal hovercraft or radical new transportation device - perhaps one which relies on an emission-free Stirling engine which recycles much of its own heat.’


Mid 19th century: named after Robert Stirling (see Stirling, Robert).