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Directory:Traveling-wave Engine

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Description

"The traveling-wave engine is a modern-day adaptation of the 19th century thermodynamic invention of Robert Stirling –– the Stirling engine –– which is similar to a steam engine, but uses heated air instead of steam to drive a piston.

"The traveling-wave engine works by sending helium gas through a stack of 322 stainless-steel wire-mesh discs called a regenerator. The regenerator is connected to a heat source and a heat sink that causes the helium to expand and contract. This expansion and contraction creates powerful sound waves –– in much the same way that lightning in the atmosphere causes the thermal expansion that produces thunder. These oscillating sound waves in the traveling-wave engine drive the piston of a linear alternator that generates electricity." (EurekAlert; Sept. 16, 2004)

Implementations

Los Alamos National Laboratories

  • A traveling-wave engine to power deep space travel - A University of California scientist working at Los Alamos National Laboratory and researchers from Northrop Grumman Space Technology have developed a novel method for generating electrical power for deep-space travel using sound waves. The traveling-wave thermoacoustic electric generator has the potential to power space probes to the furthest reaches of the Universe. (EurekAlert; Sept. 16)
  • Spacecrafts powered by thunder - Thunderous sound waves could one day propel spacecraft to the edge of the solar system, say engineers who have developed a new type of acoustic engine (New Scientist; UK; Sept. 20)

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