Nearly 200 years ago Robert Stirling invented an engine that ran off air rather than fuel or steam, and retained gasses rather than emit toxic fumes into the atmosphere. Since 1816 there have been many versions used, and many in use today. A submarine employs a version of this engine originally designed by Stirling. Today there is a company called Epiphany Labs who hopes to take this engine design to charge your cell phone using your morning cup of coffee or a cold beer.
This may not sound ground breaking, but the use of the engine is genius. Epiphany is currently collecting funds on Kickstarter with a goal of $100,000 by April, and has already exceeded that goal by $10,000. There seems to be a certain fascination with the product that the designers claim is a stepping off point to power an entire household using this technology.
“We’ve been working in research and development on heat cycles and engine technology for more than 12 years now. Most of the research going on in this industry is related to much larger engines. The onE Puck, in this tiny form, is a new idea for Epiphany, but the concepts behind it are nothing new. So far, we have developed the first working onE Puck prototype. The onE Puck is at the real, working prototype stage right now,” says Epiphany on their Kickstarter pitch page.
Wanting to make your own Stirling Engine using a beer can? Check out How Stuff Works.