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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
HEAT ENGINE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2001/044646
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An apparatus has a heat engine and a power output member drivenly connected to the piston of the heat engine and having an output for supplying work. A feedback member responsive to power demand from the apparatus by a load is provided to modulate the amount of heat provided by the heat source to the working fluid.

Inventors:
Conrad, Wayne Ernest (27 King Street Hampton, Ontario L0B 1J0, CA)
Application Number:
PCT/CA2000/001502
Publication Date:
June 21, 2001
Filing Date:
December 18, 2000
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PENTALPHA MACAU COMMERCIAL OFFSHORE LTD. (Rua de Pequim Macau Financial Centre 15th floor, Room "C" Macau, CN)
Conrad, Wayne Ernest (27 King Street Hampton, Ontario L0B 1J0, CA)
International Classes:
F02G1/043; F02G1/044; F02G1/055; F02G1/057; F28D7/10; F28F1/10; F28F1/24; H02K7/18; H02K35/02; (IPC1-7): F02G1/043; F02G1/055; H02K7/18
Foreign References:
US5329768A
DE19539379A1
GB2290351A
US4527394A
US3972370A
DE3721143A1
US5142872A
US4866943A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Chari, Santosh K. (Orange & Chari Suite 4900, P.O. Box Wellington Street West Toronto Dominion Bank Tower Toronto, Ontario M5K 1H6, 190 66, CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
I Claim :
1. A apparatus comprising: (a) a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the apparatus is in use, the sealed region having spaced apart first and second ends which are in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway, the first end is at a different temperature than the second end when the apparatus is in use; (b) a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between the first and second ends for movement between a first position and a second position; (c) a piston movably mounted in the second end for movement between a first position and a second position; (d) a heat exchanger comprising at least one member defining a plurality of openings having associated louvres which are configured and arranged to cause at least a portion of a fluid flowing through the openings to swirl as the fluid flows through the heat exchanges.
2. A apparatus comprising: (a) a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the apparatus is in use, the sealed region having spaced apart first and second ends which are in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway, the first end is at a different temperature than the second end when the apparatus is in use; (b) a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between the first and second ends for movement between a first position and a second position; (c) a piston movably mounted in the second end for movement between a first position and a second position; (d) a heat exchanger comprising at least one member having first and second opposed sides and a plurality of openings having associated louvres which are configured and arranged to cause a portion of a fluid flowing through the heat exchanger to flow from the first opposed side to the second opposed side through at least some of the openings and then from the second opposed side to the first opposed side through at least some of the openings.
3. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein the heat exchanger comprises a plurality of longitudinally spaced apart fins.
4. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein the heat exchanger comprises a plurality of longitudinally spaced apart fins which are mounted to a wall of the apparatus and at least some of the fins have a hub adjacent the wall and an annular body portion extending away from the hub, and the openings are provided in the annular body portion.
5. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein the heat exchanger comprises a plurality of longitudinally spaced apart fins which are mounted to a wall of the apparatus and at least some of the fins have a hub adjacent the wall and a plurality of blades extending away from the hub, the blades defining the openings through which the fluid flows.
6. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein the heat exchanger comprises a helical fin.
7. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein the heat exchanger comprises a helical fin which is mounted to a wall of the apparatus and has a hub adjacent the wall and an annular body portion extending away from the hub, and the openings are provided in the annular body portion.
8. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein the heat exchanger comprises a helical fin which is mounted to a wall of the apparatus and has a hub adjacent the wall and a plurality of blades extending away from the hub, the blades defining the openings through which the fluid flows.
9. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein the heat exchanger comprises a longitudinally extending member, the openings are oriented generally parallel to the direction of travel of the fluid and the louvres extend outwardly from the longitudinally extending member to impinge the fluid.
10. The apparatus as claimed in claim 9 wherein the longitudinally extending member is constructed from metal and is prepared by stamping.
11. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein the heat exchanger comprises at least one fin which is constructed from metal and are prepared by stamping.
12. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein the heat exchanger comprises at least one fin which has a deformable collar for lockingly engaging the inner surface to which the fin is attached.
13. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein the heat exchanger comprises at least one fin which is mechanically mounted to a wall of the apparatus by a pressure which is exerted between the at least one fin and the wall which is sufficient to ensure that the rate of heat transfer between the fin and the wall is maintained over the normal operating temperature of the wall.
14. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein at least some of the louvres have at least one opening provided therein and the louvre is configured and arranged to cause a portion of the fluid to pass at least twice through the louvre as the fluid flows through the heat exchanger.
15. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein at least some of the louvres have a first side, a second side and at least one opening which is configured and arranged to cause a portion of the fluid to flow unidirectionally from the first side of a louvre to the second side of the louvre as the fluid flows through the heat exchanger.
16. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein at least some of the louvres have at least one opening and the at least one opening has associated sublouvres provided therein and the sublouvres are configured and arranged to cause a portion of the fluid to pass at least twice through the louvre as the fluid flows through the heat exchanger.
17. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein at least some of the louvres have a first side, a second side and at least one opening and the at least one opening has associated sublouvres provided therein and the sublouvres are configured and arranged to cause a portion of the fluid to flow unidirectionally from the first side of a louvre to the second side of the louvre as the fluid flows through the heat exchanger.
18. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 further comprising first and second longitudinally extending walls which are spaced apart to define a fluid flow passage and the heat exchanger is positioned in the fluid flow passage.
19. The apparatus as claimed in claim 18 wherein the inner wall defines the cavity within which the displacer travels.
20. The apparatus as claimed in claim 18 wherein the inner wall is thin walled and the member comprises at least one fin which extends between the inner wall and outer wall to dimensionally stabilizing the inner wall.
21. The apparatus as claimed in claim 20 wherein the outer wall is thin walled.
22. The apparatus as claimed in claim 20 wherein the outer wall is constructed from sheet metal.
23. The apparatus as claimed in claim 21 wherein the inner and outer walls are constructed from sheet metal.
24. The apparatus as claimed in claim 18 wherein the inner and outer walls are thin walled and the apparatus further comprises positioning members positioned adjacent each of the first and second ends of the sealed region.
25. The apparatus as claimed in claim 24 wherein the inner and outer walls are physically connected together at the first end of the sealed region by an intermediate portion that extends outwardly from the inner wall to the outer wall whereby the intermediate portion comprises a positioning member.
26. The apparatus as claimed in claim 24 wherein the inner wall has an integrally formed end portion at the second end of the inner cavity to seal the second end of the inner wall.
27. The apparatus as claimed in claim 24 wherein the inner and outer walls are constructed from preformed cylindrical tubes each of which has a diameter and, at a position distal to the first end of the sealed region, the diameter of a portion of one of the inner and outer walls is varied so that the diameter of the inner and outer walls is essentially the same and the inner wall lockingly engages the outer wall whereby the portion with the varied diameter comprises a positioning member.
28. The apparatus as claimed in claim 24 wherein the inner and outer walls are individually formed cylindrical tubes and at least some of the positioning members comprise an annular member extending outwardly from the inner wall to the outer wall.
29. The apparatus as claimed in claim 24 wherein the heat exchanger comprises a regenerator positioned between the inner and outer walls and the regenerator functions as positioning members.
30. The apparatus as claimed in claim 24 wherein the thickness of the inner wall is from 0.001 inches to 0.250 inch.
31. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 further comprising a combustion chamber and the wall comprises at least part of the combustion chamber and has an inner surface positioned in the combustion chamber and the heat exchanger is mounted to the inner surface of the wall whereby combustion gas flows through the openings in the heat exchanger to enhance heat transfer between the combustion gas and the wall.
32. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 further comprising a combustion chamber and the wall comprises at least part of the combustion chamber and has an outer surface positioned exterior to the combustion chamber and the heat exchanger is mounted to the outer surface of the wall whereby the working fluid flows through the openings in the heat exchanger to enhance heat transfer between the working fluid and the wall.
33. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 further comprising an outer wall having an outer surface and a heat exchanger is mounted on a portion of the outer surface of the outer wall, whereby a cooling fluid may flow through the openings to cool the heat exchanger.
34. The apparatus as claimed in claim 33 wherein the second end of the inner sealed region is cooler than the first end and the heat exchanger is mounted on the outer wall at a position outwardly of the second end of the sealed region.
35. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 further comprising a heat source positioned at the first end of the sealed region and heat exchanger is configured to heat the working fluid as it travels from the first end towards the second end.
36. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 further comprising a combustion chamber having an inlet for air for combustion and an outlet for exhaust gasses and the heat exchanger is configured to transmit heat from the exhaust gasses to the air for combustion.
37. The apparatus as claimed in claim 36 wherein the heat exchanger comprises a plurality of walls which define side by side flow channels, the walls are thin walled and the at least one member comprises positioning members to dimensionally stabilizing the walls.
38. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein the wall defines the first end of the sealed region and the wall has an inner surface and the heat exchanger is mounted to the inner surface of the wall whereby the working fluid flows through the openings in the heat exchanger to enhance heat transfer between the working fluid and the wall.
39. The apparatus as claimed in claim 38 further comprising a longitudinally extending wall spaced apart from and positioned outwardly of the wall to define a fluid flow passage, the inner wall defines the cavity within which the displacer travels and the a second heat exchanger is positioned in the fluid flow passage.
40. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein the wall defines the second end of the sealed region and has an inner surface positioned and the heat exchanger is mounted to the inner surface of the wall whereby the working fluid flows through the openings in the heat exchanger to enhance heat transfer between the working fluid and the wall.
41. The apparatus as claimed in claim 40 further comprising a longitudinally extending wall spaced apart from and positioned outwardly of the wall to define a fluid flow passage, the inner wall defines the cavity within which the displacer travels and the a second heat exchanger is positioned in the fluid flow passage.
42. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2 further comprising a combustion chamber wherein the heat exchanger has a combustion air passageway for providing air for combustion to the combustion chamber, the at least one member is positioned in the heat exchanger, the apparatus also comprises a motor driven fan mounted in fluid flow communication with the combustion air passageway for assisting in producing air flow through the combustion air passageway.
43. The apparatus as claimed in claim 42 wherein the motor and the fan encircle the apparatus.
44. A heat engine comprising: (a) a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having first and second ends which are in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway, the first end is at a different temperature than the second end when the heat engine is in use; (b) a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position; (c) a piston movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position; and, (d) the heat engine having an outer wall having a surface and at least one cooling fin which is mounted on the outer wall by press fitting.
45. The heat engine as claimed in claim 44 wherein the at least one cooling fin is constructed from metal and are prepared by stamping.
46. The heat engine as claimed in claim 44 wherein the at least one cooling fin has a deformable collar for lockingly engaging the outer surface of the outer wall.
47. The heat engine as claimed in claim 44 wherein the outer wall is thin walled and has an outer surface and the at least one cooling fin extends around the outer wall to dimensionally stabilize the outer wall.
48. The use of a heat transfer member in a heat engine to transfer heat from one area to another area, the heat transfer member having first openings which have associated main louvres and at least one of the main louvres has at least one second opening provided therein, the second opening having associated sublouvres.
49. The use as claimed in claim 48 wherein the heat transfer member is mounted on a wall of the heat engine and the heat transfer member is configured and arranged to cause at least a portion fluid to flow around the wall.
50. The use as claimed in claim 48 wherein the heat transfer member is constructed from metal and is prepared by stamping.
51. The use as claimed in claim 48 wherein the heat transfer member has a deformable collar for lockingly engaging the wall.
52. The use as claimed in claim 48 wherein the heat transfer member is mounted on the wall by press fitting.
53. The use as claimed in claim 48 wherein the sublouvres are configured and arranged to cause fluid to pass at least twice through the main louvre in which the sublouvres are provided as the fluid flows through the heat transfer member.
54. The use as claimed in claim 48 wherein at least some of the main louvres have a first side, a second side, the sublouvres are configured and arranged to cause fluid to flow unidirectionally from one side of a main louvre in which the sublouvres are provided to the other side as the fluid flows through the heat transfer member.
55. An apparatus comprising: (a) a heat engine comprising: i. a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having a heating chamber and a cooling chamber, the heating and cooling chambers being in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway; ii. a variable heat source thermally connected to the first end to define a heating chamber whereby the variable heat source provides variable heat levels to the working fluid; iii. a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a displacer cycle profile and the displacer moves at a frequency; iv. a piston movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a piston cycle profile and the piston moves at a frequency, one of the displacer and the piston has an adjustable drive member associated therewith for moving the one of the displacer and the piston in response to a signal and the other of the displacer and the piston is movable in the sealed region due to forces applied thereto by the working fluid; (b) a power output member drivenly connected to the piston and having an output for supplying work; and, (c) an adjustable signal generator for modulating the signal provided to the adjustable drive to adjust at least one of the frequency and the cycle profile of the one of the displacer and the piston.
56. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying electric power to a load and the piston comprises a portion of the electric generator and the displacer is driven by the adjustable drive member.
57. The apparatus as claimed in claim 56 wherein the adjustable signal generator comprises a signal modulator whereby the movement of the piston generates a signal that is sent to the signal modulator.
58. The apparatus as claimed in claim 57 wherein the piston includes at least one magnet and the generator includes at least one coil and the piston is mounted in the heat engine for movement relative to the at least one coil and the movement of the at least one magnet relative to the at least one coil produces the signal that is sent to the adjustable signal generator.
59. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the piston comprises a portion of the electric generator and the displacer is driven by the adjustable drive member.
60. The apparatus as claimed in claim 59 wherein the adjustable signal generator comprises a signal modulator whereby the movement of the piston generates a signal that is sent to the signal modulator.
61. The apparatus as claimed in claim 60 wherein the piston includes at least one magnet and the generator includes at least one coil and the piston is mounted in the heat engine for movement relative to the at least one coil and the movement of the at least one magnet relative to the at least one coil produces the signal that is sent to the signal modulator.
62. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying electric power to a load and the piston moves at a phase angle with respect to the displacer and the adjustable signal generator modulates the signal provided to the adjustable drive member to also adjust the phase angle.
63. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the heat engine has a thermal efficiency that varies under varying load conditions and the adjustable signal generator is responsive to power demand from the power output member to modulate the signal sent to the adjustable drive member to maintain the thermal efficiency of the heat engine in a preset range.
64. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the adjustable signal generator has a manual adjustment control.
65. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55,56,57,58,59,60,61,62, 63 or 64 wherein the heat engine has a thermal efficiency that varies under varying load conditions and the adjustable signal generator is responsive to power demand from the power output member to modulate the signal sent to the adjustable drive member to maintain the thermal efficiency of the heat engine in a preset range.
66. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55,56,57,58,59,60,61,62, 63 or 64 wherein the displacer moves between a first position adjacent the variable heat source and a second position distal to the variable heat source and has a dwell time in each of the first and second positions, and the cycle profile describes the velocity of the displacer as it moves between the first and second positions and the dwell time of the displacer when it is in each of the first and second positions, and the adjustable signal generator modulates the signal provided to the adjustable drive member to adjust at least one of the velocity of the displacer, the dwell time of the displacer when in the first position and the dwell time of the displacer when in the second position.
67. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55,56,57,58,59,60,61,62, 63 or 64 wherein the sealed region has a cooling chamber for the working fluid and the piston moves between a first position wherein it is positioned in the cooling region and a second position wherein it is positioned out of the cooling chamber and has a dwell time in each of the first and second positions, and the cycle profile describes the velocity of the piston as it moves between the first and second positions and the dwell time of the piston when it is in each of the first and second positions, and the adjustable signal generator modulates the signal provided to the adjustable drive member to adjust at least one of the velocity of the piston, the dwell time of the piston when in the first position and the dwell time of the piston when in the second position.
68. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying electric power to a load and the heat engine has a thermal efficiency that varies under varying load conditions and the adjustable signal generator is responsive to power demand from the output to modulate the signal sent to the adjustable drive member to maintain the thermal efficiency of the heat engine in a preset range.
69. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying electric power to a load and the piston comprises a portion of the electric generator.
70. The apparatus as claimed in claim 69 wherein the adjustable signal generator comprises a signal modulator whereby the movement of the piston generates a signal that is sent to the signal modulator.
71. The apparatus as claimed in claim 70 wherein the piston includes at least one magnet and the generator includes at least one coil and the piston is mounted in the heat engine for movement relative to the at least one coil and the movement of the at least one magnet relative to the at least one coil produces the signal that is sent to the signal modulator.
72. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying electric power to a load and the apparatus further comprises a feedback member responsive to power demand from the electric generator by the load to modulate the amount of heat provided by the heat source to the working fluid.
73. The apparatus as claimed in claim 72 wherein the feedback member includes a thermal sensor thermally connected to a thermal source whose temperature changes as the power demand from the output varies.
74. The apparatus as claimed in claim 73 wherein the thermal sensor is reconfigurable on heating and is mechanically connected to the variable heat source to adjust the amount of heat provided by the variable heat source in response to a reconfiguration of the thermal sensor.
75. The apparatus as claimed in claim 74 wherein the thermal source is the heat source whereby the temperature of the heat source is used to sense the power demand applied to the output.
76. The apparatus as claimed in claim 75 wherein the feedback member further comprises an internal load member which draws current from the output.
77. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the feedback member comprises a circuit including a resistor electrically connected to the circuit to draw current proportional to the power demand drawn from the output and the thermal source is the resistor whereby the temperature of the resistor is used to sense the power demand from the output.
78. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying electric power to a load, the variable heat source has a control member to adjust the temperature of the variable heat source and a feedback member is drivingly connected to the control member and comprises a circuit including a sensor portion which provides a signal to the control member based on the power demand drawn from the output.
79. The apparatus as claimed in claim 78 wherein the sensor portion provides an electrical signal to the control member causing the variable heat source to adjust the amount of heat provided to the working fluid in response to the signal from the sensor portion.
80. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying electric power to a load, the variable heat source comprises a combustion chamber and a variable fuel flow valve associated thereto, the variable fuel flow valve is adjustable to a plurality of positions to provide varying flow rates of fuel to the combustion chamber, a feedback member is drivingly connected to the variable fuel flow valve and includes a thermal sensor thermally connected to the combustion chamber whereby the temperature of the combustion chamber varies inversely to the power drawn from the linear generator by the load, the thermal sensor senses the temperature of the combustion chamber and the feedback member adjusts the flow rate of fuel supplied to the combustion chamber to maintain the temperature of the combustion chamber within a preset range.
81. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying electric power to a load, the variable heat source comprises a combustion chamber and a variable fuel flow valve associated thereto, the variable fuel flow valve is adjustable to a plurality of positions to provide varying flow rates of fuel to the combustion chamber, a feedback member is drivingly connected to the variable fuel flow valve and comprises a circuit including a resistor electrically connected to the circuit to draw current proportional to the power demand drawn from the output, and a thermal sensor thermally connected to the resistor whereby the thermal sensor indirectly senses the power demand of a load applied to the output and the feedback member adjusts the flow rate of fuel supplied to the combustion chamber to maintain the temperature of the combustion chamber within a preset range.
82. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying electric power to a load, the variable heat source comprises a combustion chamber and a variable fuel flow valve associated thereto, the variable fuel flow valve is adjustable to a plurality of positions to provide varying flow rates of fuel to the combustion chamber, a feedback member is drivingly connected to the variable fuel flow valve and comprises a circuit including an internal load member which draws current from the output and a resistor electrically connected to the circuit to draw current relative to the power demand drawn from the output, and a thermal sensor is thermally connected to the resistor whereby the thermal sensor indirectly senses the power demand of the load and the internal load and the feedback member adjusts the flow rate of fuel supplied to the combustion chamber to maintain the temperature of the combustion chamber within a preset range.
83. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying electric power to a load, the variable heat source comprises a combustion chamber and a variable fuel flow valve associated thereto, the variable fuel flow valve is adjustable to a plurality of positions to provide varying flow rates of fuel to the combustion chamber, a feedback member comprises a controller operatively connected to the variable fuel flow valve and a current sensor connected to the output whereby the current sensor senses the current drawn from the output and the controller adjusts the flow rate of fuel supplied to the combustion chamber based on the amount of current drawn from the load.
84. The apparatus as claimed in claim 84 wherein the variable fuel flow valve comprises a plurality of valves each of which is independently operable by the controller.
85. The apparatus as claimed in claim 55 wherein the power output member comprises a linear to rotary converter.
86. An apparatus for providing cooling comprising: (a) a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having a first chamber and a second chamber, the first and second chambers being in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway; (b) a heat sink thermally connected to the first chamber whereby the heat sink provides heat to the working fluid; (c) a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a displacer cycle profile and the cycle profile describes the velocity of the displacer as it moves between the first and second positions, the dwell time of the displacer when it is in each of the first and second positions and the frequency of movement of the displacer; (d) a piston movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a piston cycle profile and the cycle profile describes the velocity of the piston as it moves between the first and second positions, the dwell time of the piston when it is in each of the first and second positions and the frequency of movement of the piston; (e) at least one heat dissipation member thermally connected to the second chamber; and, (f) at least one drive member drivingly connected to the displacer and the piston to produce a displacer cycle profile and a piston cycle profile which causes the working fluid to undergo differing rates of expansion and compression in the first chamber than in the second chamber whereby the movement of the working fluid transfers heat from the heat sink to the working fluid in the first chamber and then from the second chamber to the heat dissipation members.
87. The apparatus as claimed in claim 86 wherein the at least one drive member is operated to cause the working fluid to undergo a slower rate of expansion in the first chamber then the rate of compression of the working fluid in the first chamber and to undergo a slower rate of compression in the second chamber then the rate of expansion of the working fluid in the second chamber.
88. The apparatus as claimed in claim 87 wherein the at least one drive member comprises a first drive member drivingly connected to the displacer and a second drive member drivingly connected to the piston.
89. The apparatus as claimed in claim 88 further comprising an electric motor drivingly connected to the piston.
90. The apparatus as claimed in claim 89 wherein the electric motor comprises a linear motor and the piston comprises a portion of the linear motor.
91. The apparatus as claimed in claim 90 wherein the movement of the piston produces a signal that is sent to the first drive member, whereby the signal causes the first drive member to move the displacer.
92. The apparatus as claimed in claim 91 further comprising an adjustable signal generator for modulating the signal provided to the first drive member to adjust the cycle profile of the displacer.
93. The apparatus as claimed in claim 86 wherein the at least one drive member is adjustable to vary at least one of the displacer cycle and the piston cycle profile.
94. The apparatus as claimed in claim 86 wherein the at least one drive member is adjustable to vary the displacer cycle and the piston cycle profile.
95. The apparatus as claimed in claim 86 wherein displacer cycle profile and the piston cycle profile causes the working fluid to have residence time in the first chamber that is at least about 20% greater than its residence time in the second chamber.
96. The apparatus as claimed in claim 86 wherein the at least one drive member is adjustable to vary the cycle profile of at least one of the displacer and the piston and the apparatus further comprises an adjustable signal generator for modulating a signal provided to the at least one drive member to adjust the cycle profile of the at least one of the displacer and the piston.
97. The apparatus as claimed in claim 88 wherein each of the first and second drive members is adjustable to vary the cycle profile of the displacer and the piston and the apparatus further comprises a manual adjustment members for independently adjusting the cycle profile of each of the displacer and the piston.
98. The apparatus as claimed in claim 88 wherein each of the first and second drive members is adjustable to vary the cycle profile of the displacer and the piston and the apparatus further comprises a first adjustable signal generator for modulating a signal provided to the first drive member to adjust the cycle profile of the displacer and a second adjustable signal generator for modulating the cycle profile of the piston.
99. The apparatus as claimed in claim 98 further comprising an electric motor drivingly connected to the piston and the second adjustable signal generator comprises a control member for controlling the electric motor.
100. The apparatus as claimed in claim 99 wherein the electric motor comprises a linear motor and the piston comprises a portion of the linear motor.
101. The apparatus as claimed in claim 100 wherein the adjustable signal generator comprises a signal modulator and the piston whereby the movement of the piston generates a signal that is sent to the signal modulator.
102. The apparatus as claimed in claim 86 wherein the piston moves at a phase angle with respect to the displacer and the adjustable signal generator modulates the signal provided to the at least one drive member to also adjust the phase angle.
103. The apparatus as claimed in claim 86 wherein the first drive member comprises a solenoid or an electromagnet.
104. The apparatus as claimed in claim 86 wherein the apparatus has a cooling efficiency that varies under varying cooling load conditions and the at least one drive member is responsive to the cooling load to modulate at least one of the displacer cycle profile and the piston cycle profile to maintain the cooling efficiency of the apparatus in a preset range.
105. The apparatus as claimed in claim 88 further comprising a first adjustable signal generator for modulating a signal provided to the first drive member to adjust the cycle profile of the displacer and a second adjustable signal generator for modulating the cycle profile of the piston and the apparatus has a cooling efficiency that varies under varying cooling load conditions and at least one of the first and second adjustable signal generators is responsive to the cooling load to modulate the cycle profile of at least one of the displacer and the piston to maintain the cooling efficiency of the apparatus in a preset range.
106. The apparatus as claimed in claim 86 wherein the heat sink has a variable cooling demand and the apparatus further comprises a feedback member responsive to the variable cooling demand from the apparatus by the heat sink to modulate the amount of heat removed by the apparatus from the heat sink.
107. The apparatus as claimed in claim 106 wherein the feedback member comprises a controller.
108. The apparatus as claimed in claim 86 wherein the heat dissipation member comprises at least one cooling fin positioned exterior of the second chamber.
109. An apparatus comprising: (a) a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having a first chamber and a second chamber, the first and second chambers being in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway; (b) a heat transfer member selected from the group consisting of a heat source or heat sink thermally connected to the first chamber; (c) a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a displacer cycle profile; (d) a piston movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a piston cycle profile; and, (e) at least one magnetic drive member drivingly connected to one of the displacer and the piston.
110. The apparatus as claimed in claim 109 wherein the at least one magnetic drive member is drivingly connected to the displacer.
111. The apparatus as claimed in claim 109 wherein the at least one magnetic drive member is drivingly connected to the piston.
112. The apparatus as claimed in claim 109 wherein the at least one magnetic drive member comprises a first magnetic drive member drivingly connected to the displacer and a second magnetic drive member drivingly connected to the piston.
113. The apparatus as claimed in claim 112 wherein the first and second magnetic drive members are independently controllable.
114. The apparatus as claimed in claim 110 wherein the at least one magnetic drive member comprises a magnet positioned on the displacer and a drive magnet positioned and arranged to interact with the magnet positioned on the displacer and position the displacer in the sealed region whereby the displacer is held in position by repulsive magnetic fields as it travels between its first and second positions.
115. The apparatus as claimed in claim 114 wherein the drive magnet is positioned exterior to the sealed region.
116. The apparatus as claimed in claim 114 wherein the container has a longitudinally extending wall and further comprises a longitudinally extending outer wall spaced apart from the longitudinally extending wall of the container, and the drive magnet is mounted exterior to the outer wall.
117. The apparatus as claimed in claim 110 wherein the at least one magnetic drive member comprises a magnet positioned on the displacer, a biasing member to bias the displacer to one of the first and second positions and a drive magnet having a variable magnetic field output whereby the magnet having the variable magnetic field output and the biasing member cooperate to move the displacer between the first and second positions.
118. The apparatus as claimed in claim 117 wherein the biasing member comprises a positioning magnet, the drive magnet and the positioning magnet are positioned and arranged to define the normal operating range of the displacer as it moves between its first and second positions.
119. The apparatus as claimed in claim 118 further comprising a signal generating magnet and a signal generating coil and one of the signal generating magnet and the signal generating coil is positioned on the piston for movement relative to the other of the signal generating magnet and the signal generating coil wherein the movement of the piston generates a signal that is sent to the drive magnet and the drive magnet is responsive to the signal to alter its magnetic field and thereby drive the displacer.
120. The apparatus as claimed in claim 118 further comprising an adjustable signal generator for modulating a signal sent to the drive magnet to adjust the cycle profile of the displacer.
121. The apparatus as claimed in claim 117 further comprising an electric generator drivenly connected to the piston and an signal modulator for modulating a signal sent to the magnet having a variable magnetic field output and the displacer cycle profile includes the frequency of the displacer as it moves between its first and second positions whereby the frequency of the displacer is variable.
122. The apparatus as claimed in claim 118 wherein the drive magnet and the positioning magnet are positioned exterior to the sealed region.
123. The apparatus as claimed in claim 118 wherein the container has a longitudinally extending wall and further comprises a longitudinally extending outer wall spaced apart from the longitudinally extending wall of the container, and the drive magnet and the positioning magnet are mounted exterior to the outer wall.
124. The apparatus as claimed in claim 111 wherein the at least one magnetic drive member comprises a magnet positioned on the piston, a biasing member to bias the piston to one of the first and second positions and a drive magnet having a variable magnetic field output whereby the magnet having the variable magnetic field output and the biasing member cooperate to move the piston between the first and second positions.
125. The apparatus as claimed in claim 124 wherein the biasing member comprises a positioning magnet, the drive magnet and the positioning magnet are positioned and arranged to define the normal operating range of the piston as it moves between its first and second positions.
126. The apparatus as claimed in claim 125 wherein the drive magnet comprises at least one coil mounted on the apparatus and at least one driven magnet positioned on the piston for movement relative to the at least one coil, the at least one coil emitting a variable magnetic field in response to a signal wherein the variable magnetic field acts on the driven magnet to thereby drive the piston.
127. The apparatus as claimed in claim 126 further comprising an adjustable signal generator for modulating the signal sent to the at least one coil to adjust the cycle profile of the piston.
128. The apparatus as claimed in claim 111 wherein the at least one magnetic drive member comprises a magnet positioned on the piston and a drive magnet positioned and arranged to interact with the magnet positioned on the piston and position the piston in the sealed region whereby the piston is held in position by repulsive magnetic fields as it travels between its first and second positions.
129. The apparatus as claimed in claim 108 wherein the at least one magnetic drive member comprises a plurality of magnets, at least one of which is mounted on one of the displacer and the piston and at least another of which is positioned and arranged to interact with the magnet affixed to the one of the displacer and the piston whereby the one of the displacer and the piston is held in position by magnetic fields as it travels between its first and second positions.
130. The apparatus as claimed in claim 129 wherein at least two spaced apart positioning magnets are positioned and arranged to repel the magnet affixed to the one of the displacer and the piston whereby the one of the displacer and the piston is held in position by repulsive magnetic fields as it travels between its first and second positions.
131. The apparatus as claimed in claim 130 wherein the positioning magnets are mounted exterior to the sealed region and positioned around the one of the displacer and the piston whereby the one of the displacer and the piston is held centrally in position in the sealed region.
132. The apparatus as claimed in claim 131 wherein at least one of the positioning magnets has a variable magnetic field output and has an associated control member for modulating the variable magnetic field whereby the positioning magnets are drivingly connected to the one of the displacer and the piston.
133. The apparatus as claimed in claim 132 wherein the positioning magnet having a variable magnetic field output is an electromagnet and the control member comprises a controller.
134. The apparatus as claimed in claim 108 wherein a magnet is affixed to the displacer and the spaced apart positioning magnets interact with the magnet affixed to the displacer and the apparatus further comprises a signal generating magnet and a signal generating coil and one of the signal generating magnet and the signal generating coil is positioned on the piston for movement relative to the other of the signal generating magnet and the signal generating coil wherein the control member comprises the signal generating magnet and the signal generating coil and the movement of the piston generates a signal that is sent to the positioning magnet having the variable magnetic field thereby driving the displacer.
135. An apparatus comprising: (a) a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having a first chamber and a second chamber, the first and second chambers being in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway; (b) a heat transfer member selected from the group consisting of a heat source or heat sink thermally connected to the first chamber; (c) a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a displacer cycle profile; (d) a piston movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a piston cycle profile; and, (e) a solenoid drivingly connected to the displacer.
136. The apparatus as claimed in claim 135 further comprising an adjustable signal generator for modulating a signal sent to the solenoid and the displacer cycle profile describes a plurality of features including the velocity of the displacer as it moves between the first and second positions, the dwell time of the displacer when it is in each of the first and second position and the frequency of the displacer as it moves between its first and second positions whereby the at least one of the features of the displacer cycle profile is variable.
137. The apparatus as claimed in claim 135 further comprising an electric generator and the piston is drivingly connected to the electric generator to produce electricity in response to the movement of the piston.
138. The apparatus as claimed in claim 137 wherein the heat transfer member comprises a heat source and the piston comprises part of the electric generator.
139. The apparatus as claimed in claim 135 further comprising an electric generator and an adjustable signal generator for modulating a signal sent to the solenoid, the piston is drivingly connected to the electric generator to produce electricity in response to the movement of the piston and the displacer cycle profile includes the frequency of the displacer as it moves between its first and second positions whereby the frequency of the displacer and therefore the frequency of the electricity produced by the electric generator is variable.
140. The apparatus as claimed in claim 139 wherein the heat transfer member comprises a heat source and the piston comprises part of the electric generator.
141. An apparatus comprising: (a) a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having a heating chamber and a cooling chamber, the heating and cooling chambers being in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway; (b) a heat source thermally connected to the heating chamber; (c) a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a displacer cycle profile; (d) a piston movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a piston cycle profile; (e) a drive member drivingly connected to the displacer; (f) an electric generator comprising a at least one coil and at least one magnet, the magnet is drivenly connected to the piston and the at least one coil is positioned exterior to the sealed region.
142. The apparatus as claimed in claim 141 wherein the container has a longitudinally extending wall and further comprises a longitudinally extending outer wall spaced apart from the longitudinally extending wall of the container, and the at least one coil is mounted exterior to the outer wall.
143. The apparatus as claimed in claim 141 further comprising a heat exchanger thermally connected to the cooling chamber and the at least one coil is positioned in the heat exchanger.
144. The apparatus as claimed in claim 141 further comprising a drive member drivingly connected to the displacer and the electrical generator further comprises a signal generating coil and the movement of the piston relative to the signal generating coil produces a signal which drives the drive member.
145. The apparatus as claimed in claim 144 wherein the drive member comprises an electromagnet and the electromagnet is positioned exterior to the sealed region.
146. The apparatus as claimed in claim 142 wherein the drive member comprises an electromagnet and the electromagnet is positioned exterior to the outer wall.
147. The apparatus as claimed in claim 143 wherein the drive member comprises an electromagnet and the electromagnet is in the heat exchanger.
148. The apparatus as claimed in claim 143 wherein the heat exchanger comprises a plurality of cooling fins.
149. The apparatus as claimed in claim 144 wherein the generator comprises a plurality of coils and the cooling fins are thermally connected to the coils.
150. The apparatus as claimed in claim 143 wherein the heat source comprises a combustion chamber and the heat exchanger comprises a combustion air passageway for preheating the combustion air.
151. The apparatus as claimed in claim 150 wherein the generator comprises a plurality of coils and the heat exchanger includes a plurality of cooling fins and at least a portion of the coils are connected to the cooling fins.
152. An apparatus comprising: (a) a heat engine comprising: i. a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having a heating chamber and a cooling chamber, the heating and cooling chambers being in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway; ii. a variable heat source thermally connected to the heating chamber whereby the variable heat source provides variable heat levels to the working fluid; iii. a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a displacer cycle profile; iv. a piston movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a piston cycle profile; (b) an power output member drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying work; and, (c) a feedback member responsive to power demand from the power output member to modulate the amount of heat provided by the heat source to the working fluid.
153. The apparatus as claimed in claim 152 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying current to a load.
154. The apparatus as claimed in claim 152 wherein the feedback member includes a thermal sensor thermally connected to a thermal source whose temperature changes as the power demand from the power output member varies.
155. The apparatus as claimed in claim 154 wherein the thermal sensor is reconfigurable on heating and is mechanically connected to the variable heat source to adjust the amount of heat provided by the variable heat source in response to a reconfiguration of the thermal sensor.
156. The apparatus as claimed in claim 154 wherein the thermal sensor comprises a driving member which is reconfigurable on heating and is drivingly connected to the variable heat source whereby the thermal sensor adjusts the amount of heat provided by the variable heat source.
157. The apparatus as claimed in claim 156 wherein the thermal source is the heat source whereby the temperature of the heat source is used to sense the power demanded of the power output member.
158. The apparatus as claimed in claim 152 wherein the variable heat source comprises a combustion chamber and a variable fuel flow valve associated thereto, the variable fuel flow valve is adjustable to a plurality of positions to provide varying flow rates of fuel to the combustion chamber, the feedback member is drivingly connected to the variable fuel flow valve and includes a thermal sensor thermally connected to the combustion chamber whereby the temperature of the combustion chamber varies inversely to the power drawn from the power output member, the thermal sensor senses the temperature of the combustion chamber and the feedback member adjusts the flow rate of fuel supplied to the combustion chamber to maintain the temperature of the combustion chamber within a preset range.
159. The apparatus as claimed in claim 156 wherein the variable heat source has a control member to adjust the temperature of the variable heat source and the feedback member is drivingly connected to the control member and the thermal source is the heat source whereby the temperature of the heat source is used to sense the power demanded from the power output member.
160. The apparatus as claimed in claim 154 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying current to a load, the feedback member comprises a circuit including a resistor electrically connected to the circuit to draw current proportional to the power demand drawn from the electric generator and the thermal source is the resistor whereby the temperature of the resistor is used to sense the power demand from the output.
161. The apparatus as claimed in claim 153 wherein the variable heat source comprises a combustion chamber and a variable fuel flow valve associated thereto, the variable fuel flow valve is adjustable to a plurality of positions to provide varying flow rates of fuel to the combustion chamber, the feedback member is drivingly connected to the variable fuel flow valve and comprises a circuit including a resistor electrically connected to the circuit to draw current proportional to the power demand drawn from the output, and a thermal sensor thermally connected to the resistor whereby the thermal sensor indirectly senses the power demand of a load applied to the output and the feedback member adjusts the flow rate of fuel supplied to the combustion chamber to maintain the temperature of the combustion chamber within a preset range.
162. The apparatus as claimed in claim 153 wherein the variable heat source has a control member to adjust the temperature of the variable heat source and the feedback member is drivingly connected to the control member and comprises a circuit including a sensor portion which provides a signal to the control member based on the power demand drawn from the output.
163. The apparatus as claimed in claim 162 further comprising a thermal sensor thermally connected to the sensor portion and the sensor portion changes temperature based on the power demand drawn from the output.
164. The apparatus as claimed in claim 163 wherein the feedback member further comprises an internal load member which draws current from the output.
165. The apparatus as claimed in claim 152 wherein the feedback member further comprises an internal load member which draws current from the output.
166. The apparatus as claimed in claim 153 wherein the thermal sensor comprises a driving member which is reconfigurable on heating and is drivingly connected to the control member whereby the thermal sensor adjusts the amount of heat provided by the variable heat source.
167. The apparatus as claimed in claim 166 wherein the feedback member further comprises an internal load member which draws current from the output.
168. The apparatus as claimed in claim 153 wherein the variable heat source comprises a combustion chamber and a variable fuel flow valve associated thereto, the variable fuel flow valve is adjustable to a plurality of positions to provide varying flow rates of fuel to the combustion chamber, the feedback member is drivingly connected to the variable fuel flow valve and comprises a circuit including an internal load member which draws current from the output and a resistor electrically connected to the circuit to draw current relative to the power demand drawn from the output, and a thermal sensor is thermally connected to the resistor whereby the thermal sensor indirectly senses the power demand of the load and the internal load and the feedback member adjusts the flow rate of fuel supplied to the combustion chamber to maintain the temperature of the combustion chamber within a preset range.
169. The apparatus as claimed in claim 154 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying current to a load, the variable heat source has a control member to adjust the temperature of the variable heat source and the feedback member is drivingly connected to the control member and comprises a circuit including an internal load member which draws current from the output and a resistor electrically connected to the circuit to draw current relative to the power demand drawn from the output and the thermal source is the resistor.
170. The apparatus as claimed in claim 162 wherein the sensor portion provides an electrical signal to the control member causing the variable heat source to adjust the amount of heat provided to the working fluid in response to the signal from the sensor portion.
171. The apparatus as claimed in claim 153 wherein the variable heat source comprises a combustion chamber and a variable fuel flow valve associated thereto, the variable fuel flow valve is adjustable to a plurality of positions to provide varying flow rates of fuel to the combustion chamber, the feedback member comprises a controller operatively connected to the variable fuel flow valve and a current sensor connected to the output whereby the current sensor senses the current drawn from the output and the controller adjusts the flow rate of fuel supplied to the combustion chamber based on the amount of current drawn from the load.
172. The apparatus as claimed in claim 153 wherein the variable heat source has a control member to adjust the temperature of the variable heat source and the feedback member comprises a controller operatively connected to the control member and a current sensor connected to the output whereby the current sensor senses the current drawn from the output and the controller adjusts the flow rate of fuel supplied to the combustion chamber based on the amount of current drawn from the load.
173. The apparatus as claimed in claim 171 wherein the variable fuel flow valve comprises a plurality of valves each of which is independently operable by the controller.
174. The apparatus as claimed in claim 173 wherein each valve has an associated control member for operating the valve.
175. The apparatus as claimed in claim 158 wherein the variable fuel flow valve comprises a plurality of valves each of which is independently operable by the driving member.
176. The apparatus as claimed in claim 154 wherein the variable heat source comprises a combustion chamber and a variable fuel flow valve associated thereto, the variable fuel flow valve is adjustable to a plurality of positions to provide varying flow rates of fuel to the combustion chamber and the thermal source is the combustion chamber.
177. The apparatus as claimed in claim 170 wherein the control member is a solenoid or an electromagnet.
178. The apparatus as claimed in claim 152 further comprises an adjustable signal generator which receives a signal and produces a modulated signal which is sent to an adjustable drive member wherein the adjustable drive member is associated with one of the displacer and the piston for moving the one of the displacer and the piston in response to a signal and the other of the displacer and the piston is movable in the sealed region due to forces applied thereto by the working fluid and whereby the modulated signal adjusts the cycle profile of the one of the displacer and the piston.
179. The apparatus as claimed in claim 178 wherein the piston moves at a phase angle with respect to the displacer and the adjustable signal generator modulates the signal provided to the adjustable drive member to adjust the phase angle.
180. The apparatus as claimed in claim 178 wherein the displacer moves between a first position adjacent the variable heat source and a second position distal to the variable heat source and has a dwell time in each of the first and second positions, and the cycle profile describes the velocity of the displacer as it moves between the first and second positions and the dwell time of the displacer when it is in each of the first and second positions, and the adjustable signal generator modulates the signal provided to the adjustable drive member to adjust at least one of the velocity of the displacer, the dwell time of the displacer when in the first position and the dwell time of the displacer when in the second position.
181. The apparatus as claimed in claim 178 wherein the sealed region has a cooling chamber for the working fluid and the piston moves between a first position wherein it is positioned in the cooling region and a second position wherein it is positioned out of the cooling chamber and has a dwell time in each of the first and second positions, and the cycle profile describes the velocity of the piston as it moves between the first and second positions and the dwell time of the piston when it is in each of the first and second positions, and the adjustable signal generator modulates the signal provided to the adjustable drive member to adjust at least one of the velocity of the piston, the dwell time of the piston when in the first position and the dwell time of the piston when in the second position.
182. The apparatus as claimed in claim 178 wherein the adjustable drive member is a solenoid or an electromagnet.
183. The apparatus as claimed in claim 178 wherein the adjustable signal generator has a manual adjustment control.
184. The apparatus as claimed in claim 178 wherein the heat engine has a thermal efficiency that varies under varying load conditions and the adjustable signal generator is responsive to power demand from the power output member to modulate the signal sent to the adjustable drive member to maintain the thermal efficiency of the apparatus in a preset range.
185. The apparatus as claimed in claim 153 wherein the piston comprises a portion of the electric generator.
186. The apparatus as claimed in claim 178 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying current to a load, the piston comprises a portion of the electric generator and the displacer is driven by the adjustable drive member.
187. The apparatus as claimed in claim 186 wherein the movement of the piston generates the signal that is sent to a signal modulator.
188. The apparatus as claimed in claim 152 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying current to a load, the piston comprises a portion of the electric generator, the displacer is driven by a drive member and the movement of the piston generates a signal that is sent to the drive member.
189. The apparatus as claimed in claim 188 wherein the adjustable drive member is a solenoid or an electromagnet.
190. The apparatus as claimed in claim 179 wherein the heat engine has a thermal efficiency that varies under varying load conditions and the adjustable signal generator is responsive to power demand from the power output member to modulate the signal sent to the adjustable drive member to maintain the thermal efficiency of the apparatus in a preset range.
191. The apparatus as claimed in claim 190 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying current to a load, the piston comprises a portion of the electric generator and the displacer is driven by the adjustable drive member.
192. The apparatus as claimed in claim 191 wherein the movement of the piston generates the signal that is sent to a signal modulator.
193. The apparatus as claimed in claim 180 wherein the heat engine has a thermal efficiency that varies under varying load conditions and the adjustable signal generator is responsive to power demand from the power output member to modulate the signal sent to the adjustable drive member to maintain the thermal efficiency of the apparatus in a preset range.
194. The apparatus as claimed in claim 193 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying current to a load, the piston comprises a portion of the electric generator and the displacer is driven by the adjustable drive member.
195. The apparatus as claimed in claim 194 wherein the movement of the piston generates the signal that is sent to a signal modulator.
196. The apparatus as claimed in claim 181 wherein the heat engine has a thermal efficiency that varies under varying load conditions and the adjustable signal generator is responsive to power demand from the power output member to modulate the signal sent to the adjustable drive member to maintain the thermal efficiency of the apparatus in a preset range.
197. The apparatus as claimed in claim 196 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying current to a load, the piston comprises a portion of the electric generator and the displacer is driven by the adjustable drive member.
198. The apparatus as claimed in claim 197 wherein the movement of the piston generates the signal that is sent to a signal modulator.
199. The apparatus as claimed in claim 178 wherein the one of the displacer and the piston moves at a particular frequency and the cycle profile includes the frequency, and the adjustable signal generator modulates the signal provided to the adjustable drive member whereby the modulated signal adjusts the frequency of the one of the displacer and the piston.
200. The apparatus as claimed in claim 199 wherein the heat engine has a thermal efficiency that varies under varying load conditions and the adjustable signal generator is responsive to power demand from the power output member to modulate the signal sent to the adjustable drive member to maintain the thermal efficiency of the apparatus in a preset range.
201. The apparatus as claimed in claim 200 wherein the power output member comprises an electric generator drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying current to a load, the piston comprises a portion of the electric generator and the displacer is driven by the adjustable drive member.
202. The apparatus as claimed in claim 201 wherein the movement of the piston generates the signal that is sent to a signal modulator.
Description:
Title: Heat Engine FIELD OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a heat engine.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The heat engine is an alternate engine to the internal combustion engine. Various designs for heat engines have been developed in the past. Despite its potential for greater thermodynamic efficiency compared to internal combustion engines, heat engines have been used in only limited applications in the past due to several factors including the complexity of the designs, the weight of the engine per unit of horse power output as well as the difficulty in starting a heat engine.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with the instant invention, an improved design for a heat engine is disclosed. In one embodiment, the heat engine is made from lightweight sheet metal. By using a plurality of cylindrical containers, one nested inside the other for the displacer, the combustion and cooling chambers as well as to create an air flow path between the heating and cooling chambers, a rugged durable lightweight construction is achieved.

In another embodiment, the heat engine utilizes a power piston which is biased to a first position. By biasing the piston, several advantages are obtained. First, the heat engine may be self starting provided the power piston is biased so as to be initially positioned in the cooling chamber. A further advantage is that by using an electrical means (eg. a solenoid, an electromagnet or the like) and preferably a magnetic drive member (eg. an electromagnet) to move the displacer, preferably in response to the position of the power piston, a complicated mechanical linkage between the power piston and the displacer is not required thus simplifying the design. Further, by using an electrical linkage, the phase angle between the displacer and the power piston may be adjusted.

The heat engine of the instant invention may be combined with a fuel source (eg. butane), a linear generator and an electrically

operated light emitting means to create a flashlight or other portable light source. It will be appreciated that due to the simplicity of the design of the instant invention, the heat engine as well as the linear generator are each adapted to be scaled up or down so as to produce greater or lessor amounts of power. Accordingly, in another embodiment, the heat engine together with a linear generator and a fuel source may be used as a generator. It will further be appreciated that by connecting a linear generator to a source of electricity (eg. standard electrical outlet) the electricity from a power grid may be used to run the linear generator as a motor whereby the power piston effectively drives the displacer. In such a case, the heat engine may be used as a refrigerator or a cryogenic cooler.

In such an embodiment, the heating and cooling chambers of the heat engine are effectively reversed and no combustion chamber is required.

In accordance with one aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat engine comprising an outer container comprising an outer longitudinally extending wall and first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends, the outer wall surrounding an outer cavity; an inner container spaced from the outer container and comprising an inner longitudinally extending wall constructed from sheet metal and surrounding an inner cavity having first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends, the inner longitudinally extending wall having first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends, the first end of the cavity is at a different temperature than the second end of the cavity when the heat engine is in use, the first and second ends of the inner cavity being in fluid flow communication via a passageway, the first and second ends of the inner cavity and the passageway defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use; a plurality of longitudinally spaced apart positioning members extending between the inner and outer containers; a displacer movably mounted in the inner cavity; and, a piston movably mounted in the inner cavity.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat engine comprising inner and outer spaced apart longitudinally extending walls, each of the inner and outer walls being of a

thin walled construction, the inner wall surrounding a cavity, each of the inner and outer wall having longitudinally spaced apart first and second ends, the first end is at a different temperature than the second end when the heat engine is in use, the first and second ends in fluid flow communication via a passageway, the first and second ends and the passageway defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the apparatus is in use; a displacer movably mounted in the cavity between the first and second ends for movement between a first position and a second position; a piston movably mounted in the second end for movement between a first position and a second position; and, support members for maintaining the dimensional integrity of each of the ends of the inner wall.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat engine comprising an outer container means; a thin walled inner container means positioned inside the outer container means, the inner container means having first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends; fluid conduit means for connecting the first and second ends in fluid flow communication; positioning means for dimensionally stabilizing the inner and outer container means; displacer means movably mounted in the inner container means; and, piston means movably mounted in the inner container means.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat engine comprising inner and outer spaced apart longitudinally extending walls, each wall having an inner surface and an outer surface, the inner wall surrounding a cavity, each of the inner and outer wall having longitudinally spaced apart first and second ends, the first end is at a different temperature than the second end when the heat engine is in use, the first and second ends in fluid flow communication via a passageway, the first and second ends and the passageway defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use; a displacer movably mounted in the cavity between the first and second ends for movement between a first position and a second position; a piston movably mounted in the second end for movement

between a first position and a second position; and, a heat exchanger mounted on a portion of the outer surface of the outer wall, the heat exchanger comprising at least one cooling fin extending around the outer wall and having first and second opposed sides and constructed to permit a cooling fluid to flow there through.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat engine comprising an outer member comprising an outer longitudinally extending wall having an outer surface and first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends, the outer wall surrounding an outer cavity; an inner member spaced from the outer member and comprising an inner longitudinally extending wall surrounding an inner cavity having first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends, the inner longitudinally extending wall having first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends, the first end of the cavity is at a different temperature than the second end of the cavity when the heat engine is in use, the first and second ends of the inner cavity being in fluid flow communication via a passageway, the first and second ends of the inner cavity and the passageway defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use; a displacer movably mounted in the inner cavity; a piston movably mounted in the inner cavity; and, a plurality of cooling fin members longitudinally spaced apart along on a portion of the outer surface of the outer wall for cooling the outer surface, the cooling fin members having first and second opposed sides, at least some of the cooling fin members having a plurality of passages whereby cooling fluid flows through the passages as the cooling fluid cools the cooling fin members.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat engine comprising outer container means having an outer surface; inner container means having a longitudinally extending axis and positioned inside the outer container means, the inner container means having first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends; fluid conduit means for connecting the first and second ends in fluid flow communication; heat exchanger means mounted on the outer surface of

the outer container means for generating a flow of cooling fluid through the heat exchanger means and cooling at least a portion of the outer container means; displacer means movably mounted in the inner container; and, piston means movably mounted in the inner container.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is also provided a heat engine comprising inner and outer spaced apart longitudinally extending walls, each wall having an inner surface and an outer surface, the inner wall surrounding a cavity, each of the inner and outer wall having longitudinally spaced apart first and second ends, the first end is at a different temperature than the second end when the heat engine is in use, the first and second ends in fluid flow communication via a passageway, the first and second ends and the passageway defining a sealed region within which a working fluid travels when the engine is in use; a displacer movably mounted in the cavity between the first and second ends for movement between a first position and a second position; a piston movably mounted in the second end for movement between a first position and a second position; and, a heat exchanger mounted in a portion of the sealed region through which the working fluid travels, the heat exchanger comprising at least one fin extending around the inner wall having first and second opposed sides and constructed to direct the working fluid to flow there through to enhance heat transfer between the working fluid and the heat exchanger.

In accordance with the instant invention, there is also provided a heat engine comprising an outer member comprising an outer longitudinally extending wall having an outer surface and first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends, the outer wall surrounding an outer cavity; an inner member spaced from the outer member and comprising an inner longitudinally extending wall surrounding an inner cavity having first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends, the inner longitudinally extending wall having first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends, the first end of the cavity is at a different temperature than the second end of the cavity when the heat engine is in use, the first and second ends of the inner cavity being in fluid flow communication via a passageway, the

first and second ends of the inner cavity and the passageway defining a sealed region; a displacer movably mounted in the inner cavity; a piston movably mounted in the inner cavity; and, a plurality of members longitudinally spaced apart along on a portion of the inner wall for transferring heat between a fluid and the inner wall, the spaced apart members having first and second opposed sides, at least some of the spaced apart members having a plurality of passages whereby the fluid flows through the passages as heat is transferred between the fluid and the spaced apart members.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat engine within which a working fluid is circulated, the heat engine comprising outer container means having an outer surface; inner container means having a longitudinally extending axis and positioned inside the outer container means, the inner container means having first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends; fluid conduit means for connecting the first and second ends in fluid flow communication; heat exchanger means comprising fin means mechanically mounted in the heat exchanger means for contacting the working fluid and assisting in transferring heat between the heat engine and the working fluid; displacer means movably mounted in the inner container; and, piston means movably mounted in the inner container.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat engine comprising inner and outer spaced apart longitudinally extending walls, each wall having an inner surface and an outer surface, the inner wall surrounding a cavity, each of the inner and outer wall having longitudinally spaced apart first and second ends, the first end is at a different temperature than the second end when the heat engine is in use, the first and second ends in fluid flow communication via a passageway, the first and second ends and the passageway defining a sealed region; and, a heat exchanger mounted on a portion of one of the walls, the heat exchanger comprising at least one fin extending around the portion of the wall and having first and second opposed sides and a plurality of main directing members, the fin configured and arranged to

produce a main flow of fluid which flows through the fin and to produce a secondary fluid flow which passes through the main directing members whereby the heat transfer between the fluid and the heat exchanger is enhanced.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat exchanger capable of being mounted in an fluid flow passage which is located between first and second walls, the walls having a first end and a spaced apart second end, the heat exchanger comprising at least one fin extending between the first and second walls, the at least one fin having first and second opposed sides and a plurality of main directing members, the at least one fin configured and arranged to produce a main flow of fluid which flows through the at least one fin as the fluid flows through the passage from the first end to the second end and to produce a secondary fluid flow which passes through the main directing members whereby the heat transfer between the fluid and the at least one fin is enhanced.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat engine comprising outer container means having an outer surface; inner container means having a longitudinally extending axis and positioned inside the outer container means, the inner container means having first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends; fluid conduit means for connecting the first and second ends in fluid flow communication; and, heat exchanger means mounted on at least one of the container means and having fin means and a first end and a second end, the fin means having first and second opposed sides and first directing means for generating a main flow of fluid through the fin means as the fluid flows from the first end to the second end and secondary directing means for generating a secondary fluid flow which passes through at least some of the first directing means whereby the heat transfer between the fluid and the heat exchanger means is enhanced.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat exchanger means capable of being mounted in an fluid flow passage which is located between first and second walls, the

walls having a first end and a spaced apart second end, the heat exchanger means comprising fin means having first and second opposed sides and first directing means for generating a main flow of fluid through the fin means as the fluid flows from the first end to the second end and secondary directing means for generating a secondary fluid flow which passes through at least some of the first directing means whereby the heat transfer between the fluid and the heat exchanger means is enhanced.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat engine comprising an outer longitudinally extending wall, an inner longitudinally extending wall spaced from the outer longitudinally extending wall to define a first passageway, each wall having an inner surface and an outer surface, the inner wall surrounding a cavity, each of the inner and outer walls having longitudinally spaced apart first and second ends, a heat source mounted at the first end and spaced from the inner wall to define a second passageway, the first and second ends in fluid flow communication via the first and second passageways, the first and second ends and the first and second passageways defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated; a displacer movably mounted in the cavity; a piston movably mounted in the second end; a first heat exchanger mounted in the first passageway comprising at least one fin having first and second opposed sides and constructed to direct the working fluid as it flows through the first heat exchanger to enhance heat transfer between the working fluid and the first heat exchanger; and, a second heat exchanger mounted in the second passageway comprising at least one fin having first and second opposed sides and constructed to direct the working fluid as it flows through the second heat exchanger to enhance heat transfer between the working fluid and the second heat exchanger.

In accordance with the instant invention, there is also provided a heat engine comprising a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having first and second portions, the first portion is at a different temperature than the second portion when the heat engine is in

use, the first and second portions being in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway; a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region; a piston movably mounted in the sealed region; a combustion chamber positioned to provide heat to one of the first and second portions of the sealed region; and, a heat exchanger having a combustion air passageway for providing air for combustion to the combustion chamber and an exhaust gas passageway for withdrawing exhaust gas from the combustion chamber, a portion of the working fluid passageway is contained in the heat exchanger, a portion of the combustion air passageway is thermally connected to a portion of the exhaust air passageway and a portion of the working fluid passageway is thermally connected to a portion of the exhaust air passageway, at least one of the passageways having fin portions having first and second opposed sides and constructed to direct a fluid to flow through the second heat exchanger to enhance heat transfer between the fluid and the heat exchanger.

In accordance with the instant invention, there is also provided a heat engine comprising container means defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having first and second portions, the first portion is at a different temperature than the second portion when the heat engine is in use; combustion means for providing heated exhaust gas for heating the first portion; combustion air conduit means for providing air for combustion to the combustion means; fluid conduit means for connecting the first and second ends in fluid flow communication; exhaust gas conduit means for conveying exhaust gas from the combustion means; and, heat exchanger means comprising fin means for transferring heat between the exhaust gas and at least one of the air for combustion and the working fluid.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat engine comprising a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having a heating chamber and a cooling chamber,

the heating and cooling chambers being in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway; a combustion chamber thermally connected to the heating chamber; a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region; a piston movably mounted in the sealed region; at least one cooling fin having first and second opposed sides and positioned exterior of the cooling chamber; and, a heat exchanger having a combustion air passageway for providing air for combustion to the combustion chamber, at least some of the cooling fins are positioned in the heat exchanger whereby heat withdrawn from the cooling chamber is a used to preheat the air for combustion.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is also provided a heat engine comprising container means having first and second portions; fluid conduit means for connecting the first and second portions in fluid flow communication, the first portion is at a higher temperature than the second portion when the heat engine is in use; combustion means for receiving air for combustion and providing heat to the first portion; and, heat exchanger means for transferring heat from the second portion of the container means to the air for combustion, the heat exchanger means comprising fin means positioned in the heat exchanger means.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is also provided a heat engine comprising container means having first and second portions; fluid conduit means for connecting the first and second portions in fluid flow communication, the first portion is at a higher temperature than the second portion when the heat engine is in use; combustion means for receiving air for combustion and providing heat to the first portion; heat exchanger means for transferring heat from the second portion of the container means to the air for combustion; and, fan means for providing forced convection in the heat exchanger means.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat engine comprising inner and outer spaced apart longitudinally extending walls, each wall having an inner surface and an

outer surface, the inner wall surrounding a cavity, each of the inner and outer wall having longitudinally spaced apart first and second ends, the first end is at a different temperature than the second end when the heat engine is in use, the first and second ends in fluid flow communication via a passageway, the first and second ends and the passageway defining a sealed region within which a working fluid travels when the engine is in use; a displacer movably mounted in the cavity between the first and second ends for movement between a first position and a second position; a piston movably mounted in the second end for movement between a first position and a second position; a combustion chamber housing having a wall and positioned to provide heat to the first end of the inner wall; and, at least one fin mounted in the combustion chamber, the at least one fin having first and second opposed sides and constructed to direct combustion gas to flow there through to enhance heat transfer between the combustion gas and the combustion chamber housing.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is also provided a heat engine comprising a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having first and second portions, the first portion is at a different temperature than the second portion when the heat engine is in use, the first and second portions being in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway; a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region; a piston movably mounted in the sealed region; a combustion chamber housing positioned to provide heat to one of the first and second portions of the sealed region; and, a heat exchanger positioned in the combustion chamber housing comprising a plurality of fin portions having first and second opposed sides and constructed to direct combustion gas to flow through the heat exchanger to enhance heat transfer between the combustion gas and the heat exchanger.

In accordance with the instant invention, there is also provided a heat engine within which a working fluid is circulated, the heat engine comprising container means defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed

region having first and second portions, the first portion is at a different temperature than the second portion when the heat engine is in use; combustion means for providing combustion gas for heating the first portion; and, heat exchanger means comprising fin means mounted in the heat exchanger means for contacting the combustion gas and assisting in transferring heat from the combustion gas to the working fluid.

In accordance with the instant invention, there is also provided a comprising a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the apparatus is in use, the sealed region having spaced apart first and second ends which are in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway, the first end is at a different temperature than the second end when the apparatus is in use; a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between the first and second ends for movement between a first position and a second position; a piston movably mounted in the second end for movement between a first position and a second position; and, a heat exchanger comprising at least one member defining a plurality of openings having associated louvres which are configured and arranged to cause at least a portion of a fluid flowing through the openings to swirl as the fluid flows through the heat exchanges.

In accordance with the instant invention, there is also provided a comprising a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the apparatus is in use, the sealed region having spaced apart first and second ends which are in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway, the first end is at a different temperature than the second end when the apparatus is in use; a displacer, movably mounted in the sealed region between the first and second ends for movement between a first position and a second position; a piston movably mounted in the second end for movement between a first position and a second position; and, a heat exchanger comprising at least one member having first and second opposed sides and a plurality of openings having associated louvres which are configured and arranged to cause a portion of a fluid flowing through the heat exchanger to flow from

the first opposed side to the second opposed side through at least some of the openings and then from the second opposed side to the first opposed side through at least some of the openings.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided an apparatus comprising a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having a first chamber and a second chamber, the first and second chambers being in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway; a heat transfer member selected from the group consisting of a heat source or heat sink thermally connected to the first chamber; a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a displacer cycle profile; a piston movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a piston cycle profile; and, at least one magnetic drive member drivingly connected to one of the displacer and the piston.

A similar arrangement may be used for the piston. It will be appreciated that magnetic drive members may be used on only one of the piston and the displacer but are preferably used for both the piston and the displacer. Thus, in accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided an apparatus comprising a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having a first chamber and a second chamber, the first and second chambers being in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway; a heat transfer member selected from the group consisting of a heat source or heat sink thermally connected to the first chamber; a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a displacer cycle profile; a piston movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a piston cycle profile; and, a plurality of magnets, at least one of which is mounted on one of the displacer and the piston and at least another of which is positioned and arranged to interact with the magnet affixed to the one of the displacer

and the piston, whereby the one of the displacer and the piston is held in position by magnetic fields as it travels between its first and second positions.

The apparatus may use any of the constructions discussed above. In one embodiment, a magnet is affixed to the displacer and a plurality of spaced apart positioning magnets, one of which has a variable magnetic field, interact with the magnet affixed to the displacer and the apparatus further comprises a signal generating magnet and a signal generating coil and one of the signal generating magnet and the signal generating coil is positioned on the piston for movement relative to the other of the signal generating magnet and the signal generating coil wherein the control member comprises the signal generating magnet and the signal generating coil and the movement of the piston generates a signal that is sent to the positioning magnet having the variable magnetic field thereby driving the displacer. Preferably, the control member includes an adjustable signal generator for modulating the signal sent to the positioning magnet having the variable magnetic field to adjust the cycle profile of the displacer.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided an apparatus comprising a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having a first chamber and a second chamber, the first and second chambers being in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway; a heat transfer member selected from the group consisting of a heat source or heat sink thermally connected to the first chamber; a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a displacer cycle profile; a piston movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a piston cycle profile; and, a solenoid drivingly connected to the displacer.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided an apparatus comprising a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is

in use, the sealed region having a heating chamber and a cooling chamber, the heating and cooling chambers being in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway; a heat source thermally connected to the heating chamber; a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a displacer cycle profile; a piston movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a piston cycle profile; a drive member drivingly connected to the displacer; and, an electric generator comprising a at least one coil and at least one magnet, the magnet is drivenly connected to the piston and the at least one coil is positioned exterior to the sealed region.

In accordance with one aspect of the instant invention, there is provided an apparatus comprising a heat engine comprising a container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having a heating chamber and a cooling chamber, the heating and cooling chambers being in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway, a variable heat source thermally connected to the heating chamber whereby the variable heat source provides variable heat levels to the working fluid, a displacer movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a displacer cycle profile and, a piston movably mounted in the sealed region between a first position and a second position to define a piston cycle profile; an power output member drivenly connected to the heat engine and having an output for supplying work; and, a feedback member responsive to power demand from the power output member to modulate the amount of heat provided by the heat source to the working fluid.

In accordance with another aspect of the instant invention, there is provided a heat engine comprising a working container defining a sealed region within which a working fluid is circulated when the heat engine is in use, the sealed region having a first chamber and a second chamber, the first and second chambers in fluid flow communication via a working fluid passageway; a displacer movably mounted in the sealed

region; and, a piston movably mounted in the sealed region, at least one of the displacer and the piston comprising a sealed member having first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends and an outer wall extending between the first and second longitudinally spaced apart ends whereby the outer wall and the spaced apart ends surround an inner cavity which is sealed from the working fluid.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS For a better understanding of the present invention, and to explain more clearly how it may be carried into effect, reference will now be made by way of example to the accompanying drawings which show preferred embodiments of the present invention, in which: Figure 1 is a partially cut away perspective view of a heat engine according to the instant invention; Figure 2a is a cross section along the line 2-2 of Figure 1 of a heat engine configured as a flashlight with the heat exchanger for the fresh air for combustion removed, with the displacer positioned adjacent the heater cup and the power piston positioned at the end of the power stroke; Figure 2b is a cross section along the line 2-2 of Figure 1 configured as a flashlight with the heat exchanger for the fresh air for combustion removed, with the displacer positioned distal to the heater cup and the power piston positioned at the beginning of the power stroke; Figure 2c is a cross section along the line 2-2 of Figure 1 of an alternate embodiment with the displacer positioned adjacent the heater cup and the power piston positioned at the end of the power stroke; Figure 2d is a cross section along the line 2-2 of Figure 1 of an alternate embodiment with the displacer positioned distal to the heater cup and the power piston positioned at the beginning of the power stroke; Figure 2e is a cross section along the line 2-2 of Figure 1 of a further alternate embodiment configured as a flashlight with the displacer positioned adjacent the heater cup and the power piston positioned at the end of the power stroke;

Figure 3 is an enlargement of the heating and regeneration zones of the cross section of Figure 2c; Figure 4 is an enlargement of the cooling zone and linear generator of Figure 2c; Figure 5 is an exploded view of the displacer and electromagnet of Figure 2; Figure 6a is a perspective view of the heat exchanger for the heating zone and the regeneration zone; Figure 6b is a perspective view of the air flow through an alternate version of the heat exchanger for the heating zone; Figure 6c is an cross section along the line 6-6 in Figure 6b showing the air flow through the heat exchanger for the heating zone of Figure 6b; Figure 6d is an enlargement showing the air flow through the heat exchanger for the regeneration zone of Figure 6a; Figure 6e is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the heat exchanger for the heating zone and the regeneration zone; Figure 6f is a cross section along the line 6'-6'in Figure 6e; Figure 7 is a perspective view of the working components of Figure 2a with the inner and outer cylinders removed; Figure 8 is a schematic drawing of the control circuit for the electromagnet of Figure 5; Figure 9 is a partially cut away perspective view of a heat engine according to a second embodiment of the instant invention which employs a magnetic drive system wherein the electronic control shown in Figures 9 and 10 has been removed; Figure 10 is a cross section along the line 10-10 of Figure 9 with the heat exchanger for the fresh air for combustion removed, with the displacer positioned adjacent the heater cup and the power piston positioned at the end of the power stroke; Figure 11 is a cross section along the line 10-10 of Figure 9 with the heat exchanger for the fresh air for combustion removed, with

the displacer positioned distal to the heater cup and the power piston positioned at the beginning of the power stroke; Figure 12 is a perspective view of a louvred fin; Figure 12a is a perspective view of another louvred fin; Figure 12b is a cross section of a cylindrical tube with the louvred fin of Figure 12a attached thereto; Figure 12c is a perspective view of an alternate louvred fin; Figure 12d is a perspective view of an alternate louvred fin; Figure 12e is a perspective view of a portion of a heat exchanger with louvred fins and cyclonic flow in the circulating fluid as the fluid travels axially through the heat exchanger; Figure 12f is a perspective view of a portion of a heat exchanger with louvred fins and cross flow in the circulating fluid as the fluid travels axially through the heat exchanger; Figure 13 is a perspective view of a radial blade; Figure 14 is a perspective view of a further embodiment of a spacer ring; Figure 15 is a perspective view of a further embodiment of a spacer ring; Figure 16 is a perspective view of a helical fin; Figure 17 is an enlarged view of the helical fin of Figure 16 with an alternate louvre; Figure 18a is an enlarged perspective view of a louvre of the helical fin of Figure 16 showing the sublouvres; Figure 18b is an enlarged perspective view of a louvre of the helical fin of Figure 16 showing alternate sublouvres; Figure 19 is a cross section along the line 11-11 of Figure 11a of a further alternate embodiment of the heat engine; Figure 20 is a cross section along the line 11-11 of Figure 11a of a further alternate embodiment of the heat engine; Figure 21 is an assembly for a power piston or a displacer wherein the power piston of displacer is constructed from two containers that are welded together;

Figure 22 is an assembly for a power piston or a displacer wherein the power piston of displacer is constructed from two containers that are threadedly engaged; Figure 23 is an assembly for a power piston or a displacer wherein the power piston of displacer is constructed from a first and second containers wherein the second container is press fitted into the opening of the first container; and, Figures 24a and b are graphs of the movement of the power piston compared to the movement of the displacer in one embodiment of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The heat engine described herein contains several novel design innovations including the construction of the heat engine from sheet metal or the like, the construction and positioning of the heat exchangers (including the regenerator), the drive system for the displacer and the power piston so as to allow different cycles for the displacer and the power piston, the feedback system for controlling the amount of heat (energy) provided to the working fluid and the ability to synchronize the frequency of several generators to allow their series or parallel connection to a load.

In the preferred embodiments of Figures 1-4,7,9-11,19 and 20 the heat engine includes a linear generator as the power output member. It will be appreciated that the heat engine may be drivingly connected to any other electric generator known in the art. In an alternate preferred embodiment, the heat engine includes a mechanical linear to rotary converter which are known in the art as the power output member. It will be appreciated that the design innovations of this disclosure may be used with either any power output member known in the art. Thus the piston may be linked by any means known in the art, eg., to provide linear or rotary mechanical power. Accordingly, similar parts have been referred to by the same reference numeral in all embodiments.

In accordance with the embodiments of Figures 2a, 2b, 2e and 7, a light bulb is incorporated into the housing of the heat engine and so as to provide a portable flashlight. The heat engine is drivingly connected to a linear generator which is used to create current to power one or more incandescent light bulbs, fluorescent light bulbs, LEDs, gas plasma discharge light sources or the like. It will be appreciated that the heat engine may be powered by any heat source known in the art. In a preferred embodiment, the flashlight housing includes a fuel reservoir which, upon combustion, provides heat to power the heat engine.

Accordingly, the flashlight comprises four main components namely a heat source, a heat engine, a linear generator and a light emitting device (eg. a light bulb). It will also be appreciated that the linear generator may be used to provide power for any required purpose and that the heat engine and the linear generator may be configured as an electric generator or may be connectable to an electric motor or any other application that requires electricity (i. e. the load). In any such application, the component to which the linear generator provides electricity may be housed with the heat engine and the linear generator of the may be a separate discrete component.

As shown in the drawings attached hereto, the components are shown set out in a linear array (i. e. they are positioned sequentially along longitudinal axis A of the flashlight). However, it will be appreciated that the components may be set up in various configurations.

For example, the fuel reservoir need not be positioned directly in line with the heat engine. Similarly, the light bulb or other powered component need not be positioned along longitudinal axis A of the flashlight but may be positioned at any desired point by adjusting the shape of the outer housing and providing a sufficient length of wire to connect the light bulb or other powered component to the linear generator. Alternately, the housing of the heat engine and the linear generator may have an electrical outlet for receiving a standard electric plug.

The following description is based on the flashlight model which has a single light bulb. However, the device, complete with an on

board heat source (eg. a reservoir filled with a combustible fuel and a combustion chamber), creates a self contained, light weight light source which may be in the form of a flash light, a portable camping light, a lamp or the like. In this application, the flashlight has been described as if it were standing vertically on a table with bulb 48 positioned at the bottom.

References to upper and lower, vertical or horizontal in this application are for reasons of convenience based upon this orientation of the flashlight in the drawings. It will be appreciated that the heat engine and the linear generator may be used when the housing of the apparatus is in any particular orientation.

Thin walled construction According to one aspect of the instant invention, a novel construction of a heat engine is provided which uses thin walled structures to house the working or moving components of the heat engine (i. e. displacer 46 and power piston 50) within a working container having first and second ends. The working fluid is circulated between the first end of the working container which is warmer than the second end. In contrast to earlier designs wherein the working container is prepared from a block of metal which is machined to produce a space within which the working fluid circulates or which is forged, this design uses sheet metal and the like to form a container. Positioning members are provided to dimensionally stabilize the walls of the container thereby providing a durable structure.

Due to the construction materials used, the heat engine is light weight and has good thermal efficiency since the thin walled construction allows for faster heat transfer to and from the working fluid and significantly reduced heat retention by the components of the heat engine.

In a more preferred embodiment, the working container is an inner container which is housed within an outer housing and the positioning members extend between the outer housing and the working container at a plurality of locations along the length of the working container. The positioning members may be provided only at the longitudinally opposed ends of the inner container. For example, the positioning means may be affixed to the opposed ends of the inner

and/or outer containers and extend generally parallel to the longitudinal axis of the heat engine to draw the opposed ends together (eg. a bolt and a butterfly nut), in which case they function as clamping means to draw the opposed ends together and seal the inner cavity. Preferably, the positioning means extends generally transverse to the longitudinal axis of the heat engine. In such a case, if the passageway through which the working fluid travels between the first and second ends of the inner container is positioned in the space between the outer housing and the inner container, then the positioning members are configured to allow fluid flow there through. The positioning members may also function as heat exchangers and/or a regenerator thereby reducing the number of components required for constructing a heat engine. More preferably, the outer housing is also of a thin walled construction.

As in the embodiment of Figure 1, the container may be open topped wherein the combustion chamber is positioned at least partially within and preferably wholly within the inner container and is used to dimensionally stabilize the top of the inner container. The combustion chamber is constructed from materials which will maintain their structural integrity at combustion temperatures and therefore, the combustion chamber may be prepared by standard construction techniques for turbine engine components (eg. stamping components out of a super nickel alloy to maximize heat transfer by minimizing the wall thickness).

Figures 1,2a, 9-11,19 and 20 exemplify this construction.

Referring to Figure 2a, a flashlight 10 is shown with each of the components set out in a longitudinally extending array inside outer wall 12. Outer wall 12 has a first end 14 and a second end 16. A start or ignition button 18 is provided, preferably on the longitudinally outer wall 12.

As shown in Figures 2a-2d, flashlight 10 comprises a heating zone 22, a regeneration zone 24, a cooling zone 26 and an electrical generation zone 28. Flashlight 10 is provided with a housing to include the components for each of these four zones. The housing comprises outer wall 12 and inner wall 30 which are preferably co-axially

positioned about longitudinal axis A (see Figure 1). While the housing which is shown in the drawings comprises nested cylinders, it will be appreciated that the housing may comprise inner and outer containers that may be of any shape and need not be coaxially mounted. Further, the housing may allow any configuration of the components provided the electrical generation means is drivenly connected to the heat engine.

Outer wall 12 has an outer surface 32 and an inner surface 34.

Inner wall 30 has an outer surface 36 and an inner surface 38. Inner surface 34 of outer wall 12 and outer surface 36 of inner wall 30 are spaced apart to define an outer cavity which may be used as annular fluid flow path 40 within which regenerator 42 is preferably positioned. The construction techniques of this design may be used in configurations of heat engines that do not include a regenerator or which do not position the regenerator in an annular passageway exterior to the inner cavity within which the displacer is positioned.

In the preferred embodiment of Figures 2a and 2b, positioned inside inner wall 30 are heater cup 44, displacer 46, driver 48 for moving displacer 46, power piston 50 and the linear generator comprising a plurality of magnets 52, ferrite beads 54 and coils 56. Light bulb 58 is mounted at second end 16 of outer wall 12. Alternately, piston 50 may be a portion of the linear generator (see eg. figure 10).

As shown in Figure 3, heater cup 44 has an inner surface 60 and an outer surface 62. Outer surface 62 is spaced from inner surface 38 of inner wall 30 so as to define a fluid flow path 64. Fluid flow path 64 is a first passageway that is in fluid flow communication with fluid flow path 40 by means of a plurality of spaced apart openings 66 which are provided in inner wall 30. Accordingly, fluid flow path 64 and openings 66 define a passageway connecting the interior of the upper portion of inner wall 30 (i. e. heating chamber 160) with fluid flow path 40. In the embodiment of Figure 1, inner wall 30 terminates prior to top 90 of heater cup 44 thereby providing an annular space 64 through which the upwardly flowing working fluid passes as it travels from heating chamber 140 to annular fluid flow path 40. A plurality of positioning members to dimensionally

stabilize the end of inner wall 30 adjacent heater cup 44 are provided in fluid flow paths 64 and 40. These positioning members may be in the form of rings that extend continuously around outer surface 62 and engage inner surface 38 of inner wall 30 to prevent inner wall from contracting inwardly when the heat engine is operating. These positioning members may also be constructed to assist in the transfer of heat to the working fluid. Examples of such positioning members are protrusions 106 (see Figure 3), contact with wall of burner cup 44 (see Figure 2a), spacer rings 164,476 (see Figures 14 and 15), louvred fins 428,440,468 (see figures 12, 12a, 12c, 12d and 13) and helical louvred fin 448 (see Figure 16). In another alternate embodiment, inner and outer walls 30 and 12 may be two containers that are prepared by die stamping and then connected together at their open (top) ends by placing one container inside the other and spin welding the top ends together to form a double walled vessel. The portions of the containers that are spun welded together define an intermediate portion and openings 66 may be provided therein to allow heating chamber 140 to be in fluid flow communication with fluid flow path 40 (see eg. Figure 3).

In the embodiment of Figures 2a and 2b, inner wall 30 has a swedged portion 204 at which point inner wall 30 has an increased diameter thereby bringing inner and outer walls 30 and 12 into engagement. This method of assembly is advantageous if inner wall 30 is prepared from a preformed cylindrical tube.

This engagement, for example over the length of the electrical generator zone 28, maintains the co-axial alignment of the cylinders. In the embodiment of Figure 4, outer wall 12 has a uniform diameter along its length and accordingly is maintained in a spaced apart relationship from inner wall 30 by, for example, a sealant which is inserted in gap 166 below openings 158 or by spacer rings 164. As shown in Figure 15, spacer rings 164 may be generally annular members having a generally U shaped profile in cross section. As such, ring 164 has a pair of opposed edges 262 extending from upper end 264 to trough portion 266 to define an open area 268. Preferably, opposed edges 262 extend

outwardly at a sufficient angle a to central axis B which extends through ring 164 so that upper ends 264 are compressed towards each other when ring 164 is inserted between outer and inner walls 12 and 30 thus providing a tight sliding fit to mechanical lock the cylinders together. A plurality of rings 164 which are spaced apart in gap 166 provides sufficient mechanical connection between outer and inner walls 12 and 30 so as to coaxially align them.

As is exemplified by Figure 1, providing any such positioning members between spaced apart inner and outer walls creates a sandwiched construction wherein the inner and outer walls become mutually self supporting. By including a plurality of such spaced apart members, longitudinally spaced apart portions of, for example, outer wall 12 and inner wall 30 (e. g. positioned adjacent each of heater cup 44 and piston 50), may be in contact with each other and transmit stresses (either inwardly directed or outwardly directed forces) between the inner wall and the outer wall. By maintaining the relative position of the inner and outer walls, the positioning members allow the mechanical strength of the inner and outer walls to be combined.

For example, in the embodiment of Figure 1, at the lower end of the heat engine, a plurality of rings 164 are provided. At the upper end, inner wall 30 is dimensionally stabilized by louvred fins which are provided in both passageways 64 and 88 to thereby hold inner wall 30 and outer wall 12 at fixed positions with respect to heater cup 44.

In the embodiments of Figures 2a-2d, a gap 166 exists between inner and outer walls 30 and 12 below the upper extent of travel of piston 50. The gap between inner and outer walls 30 and 12 is sealed so as to cause the working fluid to enter cooling chamber 160 and act on piston 50. Preferably, the gap is sealed immediately below openings 158 so as to prevent working fluid from entering gap 166 which would function as a dead zone in the heat engine. This gap may be sealed in several ways.

For example, one or more rings 164 may be provided to seal gap 166. In an alternate embodiment, a sealant (eg. epoxy) may be applied to fill all or a portion of gap 166. In the alternate embodiment of Figure 2e, inner wall

30 is swedged outwardly immediately below openings 158 such that inner and outer walls 30 and 12 are positioned adjacent each other in the cooling zone. The positioning of inner and outer walls 30 and 12 adjacent each other or the use of epoxy are additional examples of positioning members as they utilize the interplay between the inner and outer walls 30 and 12 to stabilize inner and outer walls 30 and 12.

In a preferred embodiment, inner wall 30 and outer wall 12 are each of a"thin walled"construction. For example, each of inner wall 30 and outer wall 12 may be made from a metal such as aluminum, stainless steel, super metal alloys and the like, and are preferably made from stainless steel and the like. The wall thickness of cylinders 12 and 30 may vary from about 0.001 to about 0.250 inches, preferably from about 0.005 to about 0.125 inches, more preferably from about 0.01 to about 0.075 inches and, most preferably from about 0.02 to about 0.05 inches.

Similarly, the walls of displacer 46 as well as the walls of piston 50 may be made from the same or similar materials. In larger heat engines (eg. those over 12 inches in diameter), the wall thickness is preferably selected so as to be greater than one sixtieth of the diameter of inner wall 30 and preferably about one thirtieth of the diameter of inner wall 30 when the wall is constructed for super nickel alloys and other similar materials whose strength is will not be significantly compromised at 600°C.

Accordingly, the main components of the heat engine may be constructed from sheet metal or the like using the same materials and in a manner that is similar to the containers which are used for soft drink cans or the like. In this preferred embodiment, inner and outer walls 30 and 12 are formed from prefabricated components (prepared eg. by stamping or drawing) which are then assembled together to form the heat engine. For example, inner and outer walls 30 and 12 may be prepared from sheet metal by roll forming the sheet metal and then laser welding the sheet metal to form a longitudinally extending tube. Alternately, metal may be drawn through a die to form a cylindrical tube. Openings 66 and 158 in inner wall 30 may then be made by stamping, drilling, laser cutting or the like. A circular bottom plate may be obtained from sheet metal by

stamping and then roll formed or welded to the tube to produce an opened top container into which the power piston and the displacer may be placed. Alternately, a prefabricated open topped container may be formed by stamping metal using a high speed carbide die. This is in contrast to existing techniques for forming engines wherein a block of metal is cast and subsequently bored or the like to prepare the engine body thus resulting in an engine which is much heavier than is structurally required for a heat engine.

Similarly, displacer 46 may be manufactured from roll formed sheet metal which is then laser welded together. Bottom 146 and top 136 may then be affixed to the side walls by roll forming, welding, brazing, the use of an adhesive or the like. Divider plates 144 may be added as required in the manufacturing operation. Once sealed, displacer 46 provides a rugged construction which will withstand the heat and stresses applied to displacer 46 in the heat engine. A power piston may be constructed in a similar fashion.

As shown in Figures 21-23, displacer 46 or power piston 50 may be constructed from two open topped containers 498 which are joined together, such as at the mid point of displacer 46 by welding along seam line 500. Each container comprises longitudinally extending side walls 502 and an end wall 504. Side walls and end walls 502 and 504 may be integrally formed such as by high speed carbide die stamping or, alternately, side walls 502 may be prepared by drawings metal through a die to form a preformed longitudinally extending cylindrical tube and end wall 504 may be affixed thereto by roll forming or the like. It will be appreciate that welding seam 500 may be provided at any position along side walls 502. By providing end walls 504 to dimensionally stabilize the opposed ends of displacer 46, and by sealing side walls and end walls 502 and 504 of displacer 46 so as to contain a sealed cavity 506, the overall exterior structure of displacer 46 is sufficiently strong to act as a displacer (or a power piston) in a heat engine.

Figure 22 shows an alternate embodiment wherein cap 508 is provided with walls 510 which have a thread 512 provided on the inner

surface thereof. The distal portion of walls 502 from end 504 are recessed inwards slightly and have a mating thread 514 provided thereon.

Accordingly, displacer 46 (or a power piston 50) may be constructed by providing an open topped vessel and screwing a cap 508 thereon.

A further alternate construction is shown in Figure 23. In this case, a cap 516 is provided. Cap 516 has walls 518. Portion 520 of walls 518 are recessed inward slightly so as to provide a seat for the distal end of walls 502 to be received thereon. The diameter of the outer surface of walls 520 is slightly larger than the diameter of the inner surface of walls 502 so that portions 520 lockingly engage the inner surface of walls 502. In this way, a sealed displacer 46 (or power piston 50) may be provided. It will be appreciated that in the embodiments of Figures 22 and 23, one opposed end of walls 502 is stabilized by end wall 504 and the other opposed end of walls 502 is stabilized by cap 508,518.

In order to reduce thermal transfers due to radiation and convection within displacer 46, displacer 46 may be divided into a plurality of chambers 142 by a plurality of divider plates 144 as is shown in Figures 1 and 3.

Pressurization The durability of displacer 46 and/or the power piston may be further improved by pressurizing the interior of displacer 46 or the power piston. The degree to which displacer 46 and/or the power piston is pressurized is preferably based on the degree of pressurization of the working fluid in the heat engine. Preferably, displacer 46 and the power piston has a pressure from about-2 to about 10 atm, more preferably from about 1 to about 10 and, most preferably, from about 2 to about 4 atm greater than the pressure of the working fluid in the heat engine. In a similar manner, the structural integrity of walls 12 and 30 may be similarly enhanced by pressurizing the interior of the heat engine once it has been constructed. Preferably, the interior of the heat engine (i. e. where the working fluid circulates) is pressurized to a pressure from about 1 to about 20, more preferably from about 4 to about 10 atm. Thus, if the

pressure of the working fluid is 4 atm, then the displacer may be at a pressure from 2 to 14 atm.

The working fluid may be any working fluid known in the art. For example, the working fluid may be selected from air and helium, and, is preferably helium. Helium has a high thermal conductivity which allows the heat engine to be operated at a higher operating frequency thus increasing the power output per unit volume of interior working space of the heat engine (i. e. the volume within which the working fluid circulates).

Dual flow heat exchanger In another aspect of this design, the heat engine includes a heat exchanger which uses the heat exchange fins described herein for transferring heat between the exhaust gas and at least one of the air for combustion and the working fluid and, preferably, for transferring heat between the exhaust gas and both the air for combustion and the working fluid. To this end, the heat exchanger comprises a first heat exchanger mounted in a first passageway comprising at least one fin having first and second opposed sides and constructed to direct the working fluid as it flows through the first heat exchanger to enhance heat transfer between the working fluid and the first heat exchanger; and, a second heat exchanger mounted in a second passageway comprising at least one fin having first and second opposed sides and constructed to direct the working fluid as it flows through the second heat exchanger to enhance heat transfer between the working fluid and the second heat exchanger.

Optionally, the heat exchanger comprises a third heat exchanger mounted in the exhaust gas passageway and comprises at least one fin having first and second opposed sides and constructed to direct the exhaust gas as it flows there through to enhance heat transfer between the exhaust gas and the third heat exchanger.

Referring to the embodiment of Figure 3, heater cup 44 is a combustion chamber which surrounded by a heat exchanger 67 comprising inner burner shield 68 having inner surface 74 and outer surface 76, outer burner shield 70 having inner surface 78 and outer

surface 80 and air preheat shield 72 having inner surface 82 and outer surface 84 (see, eg., Figures 1 and 3,). Outer surface 84 of air preheat shield 72 is preferably at a temperature which may be comfortably handled by a user. It can be seen that when a flame is present, bottom 138 of burner cup 44 becomes hot and this heat is transferred to the working fluid. Wall 62 of the burner cup 44 is heated both by direct radiation from the flame and by contact with the hot exhaust gas 316 which come from the flame.

Inner surface 74 is spaced from outer surface 32 of outer wall 12 to define a first pass 86 for the exhaust gases. As the exhaust gas travels through first pass 86 (a combustion gas passageway), the working fluid in flow path 64 is heated. Similarly, inner surface 78 of outer burner shield 70 is spaced from outer surface 76 of inner burner shield 68 so as to define a second pass 88 for the exhaust gases (a combustion gas passageway).

Inner surface 82 of air preheat shield 72 is spaced from outer surface 80 of outer burner shield 70 so as to define a preheat air flow path 102 (a combustion air passageway). The lower portions of outer burner shield 70 and air preheat shield 72 define entry port 104 to preheat air flow path 102. As the exhaust gas travels through second pass 88, the air for combustion in preheat air flow path 102 is heated. Depending upon the temperature of the exhaust gas and the thermal efficiency which is desired, a fewer number of passes or a greater number of passes may be utilized.

Heater cup 44 defines a combustion chamber 92. Inner burner shield 68 may be spaced from top 90 of heater cup 44 so as to define a manifold 94 through which the exhaust gases travel prior to entering first pass 86. At the bottom of first pass 86, an annular member 96 is positioned so as to force the exhaust gases to travel through second pass 88, if a second pass is desired, prior to entering second manifold 98 where the exhaust gases are redirected through cylindrical exit ports 100.

Alternately, as shown in Figure 1, outer burner shield 70 may have a transverse portion 97 to close the bottom of first pass 86.

Inner burner shield 68, outer burner shield 70 and air preheat shield 72 may be affixed together by any means known in the art.

In the preferred embodiment of Figure 3, the three shields and annular member 96 are constructed so as to be press fitted together. To this end, inner surfaces 74,78 and 82 are each provided with a plurality of discrete protrusions which are spaced apart around each of the inner surfaces. The protrusions abut against the outer surface which is positioned immediately inwardly thereof so as to provide a seating means for positioning each shield with respect to the next inner member. For example, inner surface 74 of inner burner shield 68 is provided with a plurality of protrusions 106 which engage, at discrete locations, outer surface 32 of outer wall 12. The protrusions thereby allow inner burner shield 68 to be press fitted onto outer wall 12 and to remain seated at a spaced distance from outer surface 32 to define the fluid flow path.

Similarly, annular member 96 may be installed by press fitting onto outer wall 12 prior to shields 68,70 and 72 being installed. In the preferred embodiment of Figure 1, a plurality of positioning members comprising one or more of spacer rings 164,476, louvred fins 428,440,468 and helical louvred fin 448 are provided to dimensionally stabilize shields 68,70 and 72 are provided in first and second passes 86 and 88 and preheat air flow path 102. These positioning members may also be constructed to assist in the transfer of heat.

In the preferred embodiment, a fuel, preferably an organic fuel, is combusted in heater cup 44 so as to provide heat for the heat engine. As shown in Figure 3, the fuel may be a gaseous fuel (eg. butane).

However, it will be appreciated that liquid or solid fuel (eg. paraffin) may be used. However, the heat engine may use any heat source (eg. a non- combustion exothermic chemical reaction that is preferably reversible) and in such a case, heat exchanger 67 may not be required.

In an alternate embodiment, the heat engine may be run in reverse with chamber 160 which is positioned adjacent piston 50 operating at a higher temperature than chamber 140. In such a case, heater cup 44 is replaced with a heat sink and a heat exchanger 67 may be provided to

withdraw heat from chamber 140. Such a heat exchanger would not require a preheat air flow path but is otherwise preferably of a similar design.

Fuel reservoir As shown in Figure 7, a fuel reservoir 108 is provided. Fuel reservoir may be of any size which is sufficient to render flashlight 10 portable. For example, fuel reservoir 108 may comprise a storage tank having a volume from about 25 ml to 1 litre or more. One litre of fuel weighs about the equivalent of about 6 D cell batteries. Commercially available flashlights typically use up to 8 such batteries. The total weight of a portable long life flashlight may be from about 300g (for a unit with about 25-50 ml of fuel and a life of about 100 hours) to about 2kg (for a unit with about 1 litre of fuel and a life of about 2000 hours). Conduit 110 extends from reservoir 108 to annular burner 112. Conduit 110 extends through shield 68,78 and 72 and has openings 114 through which fresh air for combustion may be drawn, via preheat air flow path 102, for mixing with the fuel prior to combustion in burner 112. A valve 116 is provided in conduit 110 so as to selectively connect reservoir 108 and burner 112 in fluid flow communication when it is desired to power flashlight 10. In an alternate embodiment, the heat engine may be connected to an external fuel source via conduit 110 and the fuel flow control valve may be provided as part of the external fuel source (eg. a regulator on a fuel tank).

Burner Burner 112 may be of any type known in the art. The burner together with the burner cup define the heat source. Preferably, the burner is adapted to provide a varying level of heat to the heat engine (eg. by having a fuel valve that is operable between a number of positions) so as to be a variable heat source. It will be appreciated that the heat source may be a chemical reaction (eg. from a fuel cell and the amount of heat provided may be obtained by altering the rate of reaction) or solar.

Preferably, burner 112 has a top 118 a bottom 120 and a circumferential sidewall having a plurality of recesses 124 provided therein through which the mixture of air and fuel may pass and be combusted

(see Figures 3 and 7). Each recess 124 is defined by a pair of opposed radial walls 126 and an inner circumferential wall 128. The air fuel mixture may be ignited by a piezo electric member positioned in housing 220 in which button 18 is mounted and an electric spark may be transmitted to a position adjacent burner 112 by means of wire 222 and spark plug 224.

Buttons to open fuel valves, and to hold them open, are known in the art and any such device may be incorporated into this design.

In operation, when button 18 is depressed into housing 220, drive rod 228 (which is affixed to button 18 by eg. screw 229) causes connecting rod 226 (which is pivotally mounted to drive rod 228 by pivot 230) to move laterally transmitting this lateral force to valve 116 via drive rod 232 (which is pivotally connected to connecting rod 226 by pivot 234 and to valve 116 by pivot 238) causing valve 116 to pivot about pivot 236 to the open position. This allows pressurized fuel to pass through conduit 110 drawing air for combustion through openings 114 into conduit 110.

The mixed fuel and air passes through burner 112 where it is ignited by any means known in the art such as spark plug 224. The combustion of the fuel produces heated exhaust gases which pass through heater cup 44.

In the embodiment of Figure 3, the exhaust gases exit flashlight 10 by means of first manifold 94, first pass 86, second pass 88, second manifold 98 and exit port 100. Button 18 may be locked in this"on position"by a locking means in housing 220. Alternately, the fuel valve may be controlled by a thermomechanical member, an electrothermomechanical member or electric control.

Displacer control According to another aspect of the instant invention, the upstroke and downstroke of the displacer are different. Preferably, the heat engine includes means for operating displacer 46 and piston 50 to provide the working fluid with greater residence time in cooling chamber 140 than in heating chamber 160. This may be accomplished by controlling displacer 46 so that upstroke and the downstroke portions of the displacer cycle vary, eg., by varying the rate of movement of displacer 46 during the upstroke as compared to the downstroke or by pausing displacer 46

during its cycle to provide the additional residence time in cooling chamber 140. Such movement of displacer 46 provides improved thermodynamically efficient heat transfer to and from the working fluid.

By allowing an additional 40%, preferably 30% and more preferably 20% of time for the air in the cold region, improved thermodynamic efficiency can be achieved. Exemplary means for operating the displacer include the use of a solenoid or a magnetic drive system. This may be achieved by attenuating the pulse width and phase delay of the signal sent to the driver by means of a phase delay circuit 326 (see, eg. Figure 10).

For example, referring to Figures 24a and b, the displacement of displacer 46 and piston 50 from the central positions of their cycle is plotted against time. In Figure 24a, the phase angle between displacer 46 and piston 50 is 180° and the rate of expansion and the rate of compression by each of displacer 46 and piston 50 are the same.

Traditionally in heat engines, the movement of the displacer 46 and piston 50 are physically linked together by a mechanical coupling and can not be varied. According to one aspect of the instant invention, the phase angle between displacer 46 and piston 50 may be varied. In addition, the rate of expansion and the rate of compression of one, and preferably both, of displacer 46 and piston 50 may be varied. The compression and expansion of the working fluid, and the phase angle between displacer 46 and piston 50, may be varied to optimize the cooling capacity of a heat engine under different thermal loads and different thermal conditions. By way of example, in Figure 24b, the phase angle between displacer 46 and piston 50 is 180° but the rate of expansion and the rate of compression by piston 50 are different. In this example, rapid compression is followed by a slower rate of compression then by a rapid rate of expansion followed by a slower rate of expansion. The expansion and compression rates are independent and are each individually adjusted to maximize heat transfer between the working fluid and the heat engine. The actual cycle profile will vary for different configurations of the heat engine. An advantage of the instant invention is that the electronic control of piston 50 permits the cycle profile to be easily adjusted to meet different configurations of the

heat engine as well as different uses of the heat engine (eg. electricity production, refrigeration, cryocooling). In this way, the compression and expansion of the working fluid may be controlled to be conducted at thermodynamically optimum rates and the heat engine may be used not only to generate work using a heat source but to generate cooling using work input to a linear generator operating as a piston.

For example, in the case of refrigeration or cryocooling, at least one drive member may be drivingly connected to the displacer and the piston to produce a displacer cycle profile and a piston cycle profile which causes the working fluid to undergo differing rates of expansion and compression in the first chamber than in the second chamber whereby the movement of the working fluid transfers heat from the heat sink (eg. the inside of a chamber to be cooled or conduits for providing cooling to another location) to the working fluid in the first chamber and then from the second chamber to the heat dissipation members. The at least one drive member may be a motor drivingly connected to the piston and a second drive member (eg. coils 328) to move the displacer.

Preferably, the at least one drive member is operated to cause the working fluid to undergo a slower rate of expansion in the first chamber then the rate of compression of the working fluid in the first chamber and to undergo a slower rate of compression in the second chamber then the rate of expansion of the working fluid in the second chamber.

Referring to Figures 2a-2d, the heat engine has a first portion 240 in which displacer 46 is movably mounted and a second portion 242 in which power piston 50 is movably mounted. The portion within which displacer 46 is movable is the hot end of the heat engine and the portion within which the power piston is movable is the cool end of the heat engine. Driver 48 has an internal circumferential wall 130 defining an opening 132 into which displacer rod 134 is received. Displacer 46 is mounted for movement within inner wall 30 between the alpha position shown in Figure 2b wherein displacer 46 is withdrawn from heater cup 44 and the omega position as shown in Figure 2a in which displacer 46 is distal to driver 48 and advanced towards heater cup 44. As

shown in Figures 2a and 2c, when displacer 46 is positioned in the omega position, there is a chamber 244 between displacer 46 and driver 48. In this position, displacer rod 134 is substantially removed from opening 132.

As shown in Figures 2b and 2d, when displacer 46 is in the alpha position, effectively all of displacer rod 134 is received in opening 132 leaving heating chamber 140 (defined by top 136 of displacer 46, bottom 138 of heater cup 44 and inner surface 38 of inner wall 30) between displacer 46 and heater cup 44.

Heating chamber 140 is heated by the combustion occurring in heater cup 44. As displacer 46 moves upwardly to the position shown in Figure 2a, the heated working fluid in heating chamber 140 is forced upwardly through fluid flow path 64 where it is heated by the heated heater cup 44, and through opening 66 into fluid flow path 40 (a portion of the working fluid passageway) where it is heated by the exhaust gasses, thus increasing the pressure of the working gas. When displacer 46 is in the distal position shown in Figures 2a and 2c, effectively all of the working fluid has been forced out of heating chamber 140. To this end, it is preferred that bottom 138 of heater cup 44 and top 136 of displacer 46 are constructed so as to intimately fit adjacent each other so as to force as much of the working fluid out of the heating chamber 140 as possible.

Preferably, as shown in Figure 2a, bottom 138 is curved so as to transfer heat to the working fluid. Alternately, as shown in Figure 3, bottom 138 may be flat and, accordingly, top 136 of displacer 46 may also be flat.

Inner circumferential wall 130 of driver 48 provides a guide for displacer rod 134 so as to maintain the longitudinal alignment of displacer 46 along axis A as displacer 46 moves between the alpha and omega positions. Displacer rod 134 and inner circumferential wall 130 may be dimensioned and constructed so as to allow relatively frictionless movement of displacer rod 134 into and out of opening 132. In order to further assist in the reduction of frictional forces, bottom 146 of displacer 46 may have a recessed circumferential wall 148. A teflon bushing 150 or the like may be mounted around recessed circumferential wall 148 for engagement with inner surface 38 of inner wall 30 as displacer 46 moves.

Further, a second teflon bushing or the like 152 may be provided on inner circumferential wall 130.

Driver 48 may be any means known in the art which is drivingly connected to displacer 46 to cause displacer 46 to move in a cycle that is complementary to the cycle of power piston 50 so as to optimize the thermal efficiency of the heat engine. This may be achieved by moving displacer 46 in response to an external stimulus such as an electrical impulse caused by the movement of power piston 50. Preferably, driver 48 is a solenoid or an electromagnet and, more preferably, an electromagnet. If driver 48 is a solenoid, current may be provided to the solenoid by means of wire 154 (see Figure 2e). Accordingly, when current is supplied to the solenoid, displacer 46 will move due the current (i. e. the external force) supplied thereto. If driver 48 is an electromagnet, then, displacer 46 and/or displacer rod 134 includes a permanent magnet for moving displacer 46 due to a magnetic field produced by the electromagnet. Accordingly, when current is supplied to the coils of the electromagnet, the coils may be charged in a reverse polarity to the portion of displacer rod 134 in opening 132 thus forcing displacer rod 134 outwardly from opening 132 thus driving the working fluid from heating chamber 140. When the current is reversed in the coils, displacer rod 134 is attracted to driver 48 and accordingly displacer rod 134 is pulled downwardly into opening 132 (thus drawing the working fluid into heating chamber 140).

In a preferred embodiment, displacer 46 is biased, preferably to the alpha position shown in Figure 2b. This may be achieved, for example, by means of spring 156 as shown in Figures 2c and 3. In such a case, driver 48 may act only to move displacer 46 to the omega position (i. e. towards heater cup 44) thus pushing heated working fluid to cooling chamber 160. When the working fluid is cooled to a sufficient degree, the current to driver 48 may be switched off allowing the biasing means (eg. spring 156) to move the displacer to the alpha position thus drawing the working fluid into heating chamber 140. When the working fluid is heated, the current to driver 48 may be switched on thus moving displacer

46 against spring 156 to the omega position. In one embodiment, driver 48 may be powered at all times once the heat engine is running.

It will be appreciated that driver 48 need not completely extend to inner wall 38 of inner wall 30. For example, driver 48 may have a smaller diameter than inner wall 30 and be mounted thereto by, eg., brackets. If the outer wall of driver 48 contacts inner wall 38 as shown in Figures 2a-2e, then chamber 244 is preferably in fluid flow communication with cooling chamber 160, such as by passage 260, to prevent a reduced pressure region from forming in chamber 244. Thus, when displaced moves to the extended position shown in Figure 2a, cooled working fluid in cooling chamber 160 may travel through passage 260 into chamber 244 to maintain an equilibrium pressure between chambers 244 and 160. Further, when displacer 46 moves to the retracted position as shown in Figure 2b, cooled fluid is pushed from chamber 244 by displacer 46 into cooling chamber 160 via passage 260 and then to heating chamber 140.

Inner wall 30 is provided with a passageway, eg. a plurality of openings 158 adjacent the top of cooling zone 26. Openings 158 define an entry port for the working fluid to enter second portion 242 of the heat engine after passing through air flow path 40. As shown in Figure 5, the lower portion of driver 48 may have a chamfered surface 168. The chamfered surface assists in directing the working fluid into and out of cooling chamber 160. Power piston 50 is not physically connected to displacer 46 but is moved due to the change of pressure in cooling chamber 160. Accordingly, when displacer rod 134 moves displacer 46 to the withdrawn position shown in Figures 2a and 2c, working fluid is forced through flow path 40, through opening 158 into cooling chamber 160. The action of the working fluid on top 162 of piston 50 forces piston 50 downwardly into open area 246. As the working fluid cools in cooling chamber 160, the pressure of the working fluid decreases thus drawing piston 50 upwardly and reducing the volume of the working zone of the heat engine (i. e. chambers 140,160,244 and fluid flow paths 64 and 40).

When displacer 46 moves away from heater cup 44 to the position shown

in Figures 2b and 2d, eg. in response to driver 48 or the spring, the working fluid is drawn from cooling chamber 160 through openings 158 through flow path 40 through openings 66, through flow path 64 into heating chamber 140.

In the alternate embodiment of Figures 9-11,19 and 20, driver 48 comprises a magnetic field that is imposed on displacer 46. As exemplified in these Figures, displacer 46 has a magnet 286 affixed to it, preferably on bottom 146. Displacer magnet 286 and displacer 46 affixed thereto are held concentrically in place and their range of motion limited by two magnets 284 and 288 which are preferably circular and which repel the displacer magnet 286. Thus displacer 46 sits on a magnetic bearing caused by the mutual repulsion of magnet 288 to displacer magnet 286 and the mutual repulsion of magnet 284 to displacer magnet 286. The repulsive magnetic field between magnets 286 and 288 serves to store kinetic energy from the upstroke of displacer 46 and limits the travel of displacer 46. The stored kinetic energy from the upstroke of displacer 46 is returned to displacer 46 on the downstroke.

Linear generator In another aspect of the design, the apparatus includes a linear generator. Preferably, piston 50 comprises part of the linear generator. The linear generator in electrical generation zone 28 may be of any construction known in the art. The following description is of the preferred embodiment of the linear generator which is shown in Figures 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d and 4. In these embodiments, the linear generator is positioned in a sealed chamber. In the embodiment of Figures 2a and 2b, the upper end of the linear generator is isolated from the working fluid by piston 50 and the lower end is sealed by closure member 195. In the embodiments of Figures 2c, 2d and 4, the upper end of the linear generator is isolated from the working fluid by top 162 and the lower end is sealed by closure member 195. As shown in Figures 2a and 2b, piston 50 is a sealed member having a top 162, a bottom 170 and sidewalls 172.

Drive rod 174 may accordingly be affixed to bottom 170 by any means known in the art. In the embodiment of Figures 2c, 2d and 4, piston 50

comprises top 162 and sidewalls 172. In this embodiment, drive rod 174 is affixed to inner surface 176 of top 162, by any means known in the art, such as by threaded engagement therewith. As shown in Figure 4, inner surface 176 may be provided with a splined shaft 178 which is received in a mating recess in drive rod 174.

A plurality of magnets 52 are fixedly attached to drive rod 174 by any means known in the art, such as by use of an adhesive or by mechanical means (eg. the interior opening through which drive rod passes in magnet 152 may be sized to produce a locking fit with drive rod 174 or drive rod 174 may be threaded and magnet 152 may be positioned between spacers that are threadedly received on drive rod 174). A mating number of coils 56 of electrically conductive wire are provided at discrete locations along the length of electrical generation zone 28. Coils 56 are affixed to inner wall 34 of outer wall 12 by any means known in the art, such as by means of an adhesive or by mechanical means (eg. coils 56 may be provided in a housing which is affixed to inner wall 34 by welding or by brackets). Thus coils 56 are stationary as drive rod with magnets 52 affixed thereto is moved by power piston 50. It will be appreciated that coils 56 may be affixed in a stationary manner by any other means known in the art. In an alternate embodiment, coils 56 may be affixed to drive rod 174 and magnets 52 may be stationary.

An annular ferrite bead 54 is positioned centrally within each set of coils 56. Each ferrite bead 54 has a central opening through which drive rod 174 passes. One of the coils 56 has wires 180 extending outwardly there from. The remainder of the coils 56 have wires 182 extending outwardly there from (see Figure 7). It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that only one ferrite bead 54 and one coil 156 may be provided. It will further be appreciated that the output wires from any of the coils 56 may be grouped together in parallel or series as may be desired.

As power piston 50 moves into area 246 away from driver 48 in response to working fluid impinging upon top 162, magnets 52 move longitudinally along axis A so as to cause current to flow in coils 56

(see Figure 2b). When piston 50 moves upwardly due to the cooling of the working fluid in cooling chamber 160, magnets 52 are then driven in the reverse direction causing current to again flow in coils 56.

In the preferred embodiment, each magnet 152 moves between a pair of ferrites 154. In particular, referring to Figure 4, magnet 52a is movably mounted in the linear generator between ferrite 54a and ferrite 54b. As drive rod 174 moves with piston 50, magnet 52a moves from a position adjacent ferrite 54a as shown in Figure 4 to a position adjacent ferrite 54b. Similarly, magnet 52b moves from a position adjacent ferrite 54b to a position adjacent ferrite 54c. In this way, it will be seen that at the end of each stroke of piston 50, ferrite 54b is acted upon at any one time by only one magnet 152. Similarly, magnet 52a will first act upon ferrite 54a and then upon ferrite 54b. In this way, ferrite 54b is sequentially exposed to, eg., a north field from magnet 52a and then a south field from magnet 52b.

One advantage of the instant design is that there is a higher rate of change of flux per unit time due to ferrites 154 first being acted upon by one field and then the opposed field. Further, since ferrite 154 is acted upon by opposed poles of different magnets, the magnetic field induced on ferrite on 54b by magnet 52a will completely collapse as magnet 52a moves to the position shown in Figure 4 and ferrite 54b is acted upon by magnet 52b.

An alternate construction of a linear generator is shown in Figures 9-11,19 and 20. In these embodiments, the magnets are positioned within inner wall 30 and the coils are positioned exterior thereto (eg. on outer surface 36 of inner wall 30 or on outer surface 32 of outer wall 12). Power piston 50 consists of a plurality of spaced apart magnets, eg. four magnets 270,272,274 and 276 and three non-magnetic spacers 278,280 and 282. The non-magnetic spacers may be made of plastic which surrounds and encases the magnets. It will be appreciated that the assembly of magnets and spacers may be connected to the power piston of Figures 2a or 2c by a drive rod 174. Preferably, the assembly comprises piston 50.

Power piston 50 of Figures 9-11,19 and 20 is held concentrically in place and its range of motion limited by two magnets 284 and 190 which are preferably circular permanent magnets and which repel magnets 270 and 276 respectively. Thus the power piston 50 sits on a magnetic bearing caused by the mutual repulsion of magnets 284 and 270, and magnets 190 and 276. The repulsive magnetic field between magnets 276 and 190 serves to store kinetic energy from the downstroke of the power piston 50 and will return this energy to the power piston 50 on the upstroke of power piston 50. Thus the magnets 276 and 190 act as a magnetic spring at the bottom of the stroke, and, similarly, magnets 284 and 270 form a repulsive magnetic field at the top of the power piston stroke which also acts as a magnetic spring.

Heat engine cycle The following is a description of the operation of the heat engine based on the embodiment of Figures 9-11 wherein fin means are provided in various fluid flow passageways to assist in heat transfer.

Heating chamber 140, cooling chamber 160 and passageways 64,312 and 40 are a sealed region within which the working fluid circulates. This heat engine cycle begins with displacer 46 positioned towards the cold end of the engine, that is, in the alpha position. This causes most of the working fluid to be forced into heating chamber 140. Wall 62 of burner cup 44 heats the inner heat exchanger 310 which in turn heats the working fluid in passage 64. The hot exhaust gas 316 then pass through manifold 94 and then pass through the exhaust outer heat exchanger 314 (to which the hot exhaust gas imparts most of its heat energy) and exit as cooled exhaust gas 332. The heat energy from the exhaust outer heat exchanger 314 is then transferred through the heat engine outer wall 12 and into the exhaust inner heat exchanger 312 which in turn imparts this heat into the working fluid.

The heating of the working fluid causes the working fluid to expand. The expansion takes place through heat exchangers 310 and 312, through the regenerator 42, through openings 158 and into cooling chamber 160 where pressure begins to build against power piston 50. This

causes power piston 50 to move downwards towards magnet 190 and causes the magnets 270,272,274 and 276 to induce voltages and current in the generator coils 318,320,322 and 324 respectively. The coils provide power to an output. A portion of the power is preferably used to operate the displacer (eg. coils 318) and the remaining is preferably provided to an output for providing electrical power to an load.

The electrical energy from one or more of the coils, eg. generator coil 318, provides power via wires 180 to the phase delay circuit 326 which modifies the power signal from the generator coil 318 and then feeds it through wires 154 to the displacer control coil 328 which acts as an adjustable drive member. Circuit 326 is a signal modulator which may comprise, eg., either of a variable capacitor and a fixed inductor or of a variable inductor and a fixed capacitor. Phase delay circuit 326 may be any circuit that will drive displacer 46 to move in a cycle that is out of phase to the cycle of power piston 50. Circuit 326 modifies the power signal from the generator coil 318 and then feeds it through wire 154 to displacer control coil 328. This signal sent to the displacer control coil 328 causes an upward force on the magnet 286 which in turn causes magnet 286 and displacer 46 affixed thereto to move upwards towards magnet 288.

The upstroke of displacer 46 causes the working fluid to flow through the heat exchangers 312 and 310, through the regenerator 42, through the openings 158 and into the cold end of the engine 160. As the working fluid passes through the regenerator 42, most of the heat of the working fluid is transferred to the regenerator 42. The remaining heat from the working fluid now located in the cold end 160 of the engine is dissipated by heat exchanger 330. Heat from the working fluid now located in cooling chamber 160 is dissipated by heat exchanger 330 which preferably comprises a plurality of cooling fins 331 which may be louvred fins 428,440,468 or helical louvred fin 448. This causes the working fluid to contract and reduces the pressure within the engine. This causes power piston 50 to move upwards under the influence of the magnetic energy stored between magnets 276 and 190.

The upward motion of power piston 50 causes magnet 270 to induce a reverse current pulse in the generator coil 318. This reverse current pulse from generator coil 318 provides power to the phase delay circuit 326 which modifies the power signal from the generator coil 318 and then feeds it through wires 154 to the displacer control coil 328. This signal sent to the displacer control coil 328 causes a downward force on displacer magnet 286 which in turn causes displacer magnet 286 and displacer 46 affixed thereto to move downwards towards magnet 284.

The repulsive magnetic field between displacer magnet 286 and magnet 288 serves to impart the stored kinetic energy from the upstroke of the displacer 46 to the downstroke. The repulsive magnetic field between displacer magnet 286 and magnet 284 serves to store kinetic energy from the downstroke of displacer 46 for the next upstroke. The repulsion of displacer magnet 286 and magnet 284 also serves to limit the travel of displacer 46.

In an alternate embodiment, phase delay circuit 326 may be replaced by a controller that senses when the voltage from the generator coil 318 is approaching zero which is the bottom of the stroke of the power piston 50. At this point, the controller may cut the signal to the displacer control coil 328 and begin a reverse (negative) pulse which causes the displacer 46 to move downwards towards magnet 270.

Alternately, the controller may cut the signal and allow displacer 46 to move downwardly under the influence of a biasing member, eg. a spring or the magnetic fields to which it is exposed.

If displacer is to be directly driven by piston 50 (eg. without any phase angle modification) electrical energy from generator coil 318 may provide power via wires 180 to displacer control coil 328.

The downward movement of the displacer 46 causes the working fluid to be forced from the cold end of the engine 160 through openings 158, through regenerator 42 through the heat exchangers 312 and 310, and into the hot end of the engine near bottom 138 of burner cup 44. As the working fluid passes through regenerator 42, most of the heat

stored in regenerator 42 is transferred into the working fluid. The cycle then repeats itself.

In accordance with one aspect of this invention, the cycle profile of the displacer and/or the piston may be adjusted. The cycle profile describes the velocity of the displacer/piston as it moves between the first and second positions and the dwell time of the displacer/piston when it is in each of the first and second positions. The cycle profile also includes the phase angle between the piston and the displacer. The apparatus preferably includes a feedback member responsive to power demand from the power output member by a load to modulate the amount of heat provided by the heat source to the working fluid. A preferred embodiment of the feedback member comprises an adjustable signal generator drivenly connected to one of the piston and the displacer (preferably the displacer) to control the movement of the one of the piston and the displacer. The adjustable signal generator may be manually controlled but preferably comprises the piston and a signal modulator whereby the piston generates a signal which is sent to the signal modulator and the signal modulator modulates the signal that is then sent to an adjustable drive member. Examples of such configurations are shown in Figures 10,19 and 20.

Thus the piston and, eg., the phase delay circuit 326, variable inductor 370 or primary controller 372 comprise an adjustable signal generator which is drivenly connected to an adjustable drive member. The adjustable drive member may be a coils 328, driver 48 and may also include any other drive member known in the art of heat engines for moving one of the displacer and the piston (and preferably the displacer) Self starting Piston 50 is preferably biased to the alpha position shown in Figures 2b, 2c and 4 such as by means of a spring 184 (see Figure 2b) or by a magnetic bushing (eg. 186,190) as shown in Figures 2c and 4. In particular, as shown in Figure 4, a magnet 186 is attached to distal end 188 of drive rod 174 from piston 50. Distal end 188 travels through an central opening in closure member 195 which may be installed in outer wall 12 by

a press fit. A second magnet 190 is affixed to inner surface 192 of closure member 194. To prevent the magnets touching each other, an elastomeric member 196 may be affixed to the distal end of magnet 190 from inner surface 192. End 198 of magnet 186 is of an opposite polarity to end 200 of magnet 190. Accordingly, magnets 190 and 186 will repel piston 50 to the alpha position shown in Figure 4. Piston 50 moves between the alpha position and the omega position (shown in Figure 2d) due to the influence of the working fluid on top 162 of piston 50.

By biasing displacer 46 and piston 50 to the alpha positions, the heat engine may be self starting. In particular, when heat is applied to heating chamber 92 (eg. combustion is initiated in heater cup 44), the working fluid in heating chamber 140 will commence expanding. The expansion of the working fluid will cause some of the working fluid to pass out of heating chamber 140 into cooling chamber 160. The entrance of the working fluid into cooling chamber 160 will cause piston 50 to move downwardly. Provided piston 50 moves downwardly by a sufficient amount and/or at a sufficient rate, an electrical current will be generated which may be transmitted by wires 180 to driver 48. The signal will cause driver 48 to move displacer 46 towards the omega position thus initiating a first stroke of displacer 46 and evacuating additional heated working fluid from heating chamber 140 into cooling chamber 160 thus further driving piston 50 downwardly to generate further amounts of current.

The working fluid is isolated in the heat engine. To this end, the opposed ends of inner wall 30 are sealed and fluid flow path 40 is also sealed. Heater cup 44 is preferably used to seal the end of inner wall 30 adjacent heating chamber 140. Piston 50 is preferably used to seal the end of inner wall 30 adjacent cooling chamber 160 such as by creating a seal with inner surface 38 of inner wall 30 thus isolating the linear generator from the working fluid.

It will be appreciated that the linear generator need not be sealed. For example, air may be able to pass through the central opening in closure member 195 as well as past coils 56 so as to prevent significant pressure build up in the linear generator as magnets 52 move.

Closure members 194 and 195 assist in the construction of flashlight 10 as well as to protect coils 56 from the incursion of foreign material which would damage the linear generator. Closure members 194 and 195 may be affixed to the bottom of the one of the cylinders by any means known in the art. For example, referring to Figure 2a, closure member 195 is integrally formed as part of outer wall 30 whereas, for example, closure member 194 is welded to the distal end of outer wall 12 from heater cup 44. In the embodiment shown in Figure 4, closure member 194 has an annular flange 202 which is threadedly received on outer surface 32 of outer wall 12. However, if the inner container, or the outer container, are prepared by high speed die stamping, then closure members may be integrally formed as part of the inner/outer container.

Referring to Figure 8, wires 180 from the first set of coils 56 are electrically connected to wires 154 of driver 48. Wires 180 pass through controller 206 (which is preferably phase delay circuit 326). Wires 180 and 154 as well as controller 206 (which may be a phase delay circuit) may be positioned between inner and outer walls 30 and 12 (i. e. in gaps 166 and fluid flow path 40).

Thermomechanical control A cross sectional view of a preferred embodiment of a heat exchanger utilizing thermomechanical control is shown in Figures 9-11.

To start the engine, the start switch 18 is engaged. The start switch 18 is operatively linked to the fuel switch lever 290 by means of linking member 291 which is preferably mechanical. Fuel switch lever 290 is activated such that the fuel flow control valve 292 and the variable flow fuel control valve 294 are both momentarily opened. Preferably fuel switch lever 290 is a mechanical switch drivenly moveable by linking member 291 between two positions and which is mechanically linked to fuel flow control valve 292 and the variable flow fuel control valve 294.

When the lever switch 290 is released, the variable flow fuel control valve 294 closes and the fuel flow control valve 292 remains open. This ensures starting fuel reserve 296 is full and fuel from the starting fuel reserve 296 begins to flow. The fuel in the starting fuel reserve is sufficient for a short

period of operation (eg. 1-2 minutes). In the event that the burner 298 fails to ignite, then the amount of fuel which may accidentally escape into the environment is limited to the small harmless amount in the starting fuel reserve 296. Hence the starting fuel reserve 296 and its associated mechanisms acts as a safety device to prevent the spillage or release of large quantities of fuel.

When start switch 18 is depressed, piezo crystal high voltage power supply 300 produces high voltage which flows along conductor 302 to the electrode 304 where a spark is created which ignites the fuel in the burner 298 and causes a flame to form. Optionally, the fuel switch lever 290 and the start switch 18 need not be linked together but may be sequentially operated by the user.

The flame immediately begins to heat burner cup 44 as well as heating fuel flow control member 308 which, on heating, begins to open the variable flow fuel control valve 294. Flow control valve member 308 may be any member that will reconfigure itself on heating so as to adjust the position of variable flow fuel control valve 294. Examples of such members include members that deform on heating (eg. a bimetal strip), significantly contract or elongate with temperature changes (eg. muscle wire) or significantly alter their spring constant with temperature changes thereby exerting variable force based on temperature (eg. homeostat type devices).

Fuel flow control member 308 is configured such that as the temperature in combustion chamber 92 reaches the optimum operating temperature, the variable flow fuel control valve 294 will be fully open so that the heat engine will provide full power. If full power is not required, the burner cup will begin to overheat because the available thermodynamic energy is not being converted to mechanical or electrical energy. The overheating will cause the variable flow fuel control valve 294 to begin to close over its central maximum flow point thereby reducing the fuel flow and thereby reducing the temperature to the optimal range.

Thus a self regulating system is established wherein the amount of fuel delivered by the variable flow fuel control valve 294 is

controlled by the temperature of combustion chamber 92 which always remains within its optimum operating range as controlled by the bimetal fuel flow control member 308. Accordingly, for example, feedback member is drivingly connected to the variable fuel flow valve 294 and comprises a thermal sensor (flow control valve member 308) thermally connected to combustion chamber 92 whereby the temperature of combustion chamber 92 varies inversely to the power drawn from the linear generator by the load, the thermal sensor senses the temperature of combustion chamber 92 and the feedback member adjusts the flow rate of fuel supplied to the combustion chamber to maintain the temperature of the combustion chamber within a preset range Thermoelectromechanical control A cross sectional view of the preferred embodiment of this invention is shown in Figure 19.

To start the engine, the start switch 18 is preferably engaged as with the embodiment of Figures 9-11 to commence ignition and the heating of heater cup 44. When the power piston 50 begins to move and the generator coils 318,320,322 and 324 begin to generate power, electricity flows through wires 334,336 and 338 which are electrically connected to low resistance resistor 342 via wire 340. Electricity flows from low resistance resistor 342 to internal load resistor 344 via wire 346 and to external load 348 via wire 350.

Electricity from the generator coils 320,322 and 324 also flows through wires 352,354 and 356, through wire 358, through the low resistance resistor 360, through wires 362 and 364 to the internal load resistor 344 and to the external load 348. The internal load resistor 344 ensures that a small amount of current is always being withdrawn from the generator. This ensures that a small amount of current is always flowing through the low resistance resistor 360 which supplies heat to fuel flow control member 308 which opens the variable flow fuel control valve 294 by means of lever 366. The current drawn by the internal load resistor causes the low resistance resistor 360 to heat slightly which causes the fuel flow control member 308 to be reconfigured (eg. to bend or contract or

deform) thereby opening the variable flow fuel control valve 294 enough to maintain the fuel flow required for standby operation.

When the current drawn by the external load 348 increases, the amount of heat created by the low resistance resistor 360 increases which causes the fuel flow control member 308 to be further configured (eg. to bend further) thereby opening the variable flow fuel control valve 294 further so as to provide enough fuel to provide the thermal energy required to generate the power drawn by the load. Thus a fuel control system which proportions the fuel flow to the load has been developed.

Upon ignition, the flame immediately begins to heat the burner cup 44. As the temperature of burner cup 44 becomes sufficient to cause the cyclic operation of the heat engine, the electrical current produced by generator coils 318,320,322 and 324 begins to flow. As the current begins to flow through low resistance resistor 360, through internal load resistor 344 via wire 346, low resistance resistor 360 begins to heat and supplies heat to fuel flow control member 308 which begins to open the variable flow fuel control valve 294 by means of lever 366. As the temperature of low resistance resistor 360 reaches its optimum operating temperature, the variable flow fuel control valve 294 will be open fully for full power. If full power is not required, the low resistance resistor 360 will become cooler thereby causing the variable flow fuel control valve 294 to begin to close thereby reducing the fuel flow.

Conversely, if the load 348 draws more power, variable fuel flow control valve 294 will again be opened due to the increased heat of low resistance resistor 360 being supplied to the fuel flow control member 308 which in turn opens variable fuel flow control valve 294. Thus a self regulating system is established wherein the amount of fuel delivered by the variable flow fuel control valve 294 is controlled by the temperature of low resistance resistor 360 whose temperature is proportional to the power required by load 348. Alternately, if the system does not include internal load resistor 344, and if the external load 348 requires no power, then the mechanism associated with low resistance resistor 360 will cause variable

fuel flow control valve 294 to shut off the fuel supply and cause the engine to stop once fuel reservoir 296 is exhausted.

The internal load resistor 344 ensures that a small amount of current is always being withdrawn from the generator. This ensures that a small amount of current is always flowing through the low resistance resistor 360 which supplies heat to the heat reconfigurable member 368 which operates the variable inductor 370. Heat reconfigurable member 368 may be any member that will reconfigure itself on heating (eg. a bimetal strip, muscle wire or homeostat type devices). The current drawn by internal load resistor 344 causes the low resistance resistor 360 to heat slightly which causes the heat reconfigurable member 368 to bend thereby operating the variable inductor 370 (a signal modulator) so as to maintain an optimal phase angle between the displacer 46 and the power piston 50.

When the current drawn by the external load 348 increases, the amount of heat created by the low resistance resistor 360 increases which causes the heat reconfigurable member 368 to deform further thereby further changing the setting of the variable inductor 370 thereby again changing the phase angle relationship between the displacer 46 and the power piston 50. It has been found that a given engine with a given displacer and power piston phase angle relationship has an energy efficiency curve which varies for different power levels or different burner/ambient temperatures. Similarly, it has been found that by varying the phase angle, relationship between the displacer and the power piston, an efficient operating point can be established for any power and/or burner/ambient temperatures. Thus a simple displacer/power piston phase control system has been developed which modifies the phase angle under varying load conditions to maintain the efficiency of the system.

In an alternate embodiment, solid state electronics may be used to control a transistor which drives resistor 360 and fuel flow control member 308 of the variable fuel flow valve 294 and the variable inductor 370.

Accordingly, for example, a feedback member is drivingly connected to the variable fuel flow valve 294 and comprises a circuit

including resistor 360 electrically connected to the circuit to draw current proportional to the power demand drawn from the output (external load 348), and a thermal sensor (fuel flow control member 308) thermally connected to resistor 360 whereby the thermal sensor indirectly senses the power demand of a load applied to the output and the feedback member adjusts the flow rate of fuel supplied to combustion chamber 92 to maintain the temperature of combustion chamber 92 within a preset range.

Electric modulation control A cross sectional view of the preferred embodiment of this invention is shown in Figure 20.

When the start switch 18 is depressed, a signal is sent from the primary controller 372 (a signal modulator) to the fuel flow controller 374 by means of wire bundle 376. The signal to the fuel flow controller 374 causes the fuel flow controller 374 to energize a valve, eg. spring loaded normally closed solenoid fuel valve 382, to open by means of wire pair 384. The opening of the spring loaded normally closed solenoid fuel valve 382 allows fuel to flow from the small staring fuel reservoir 296 along passage 110 and along to the burner 298.

The primary controller 372 also supplies power to the high voltage power supply 378 by means of the wire pair 380 which causes high voltage to be generated which then passes along wire 302 to the high voltage electrode 304 where sparks are created which causes the vaporized fuel in the burner 298 to be ignited. The resulting flame immediately begins to heat the bottom of the burner cup 44.

The hot exhaust gasses and radiation from the flame heats the temperature sensing means 386 (eg. a thermocouple) which is connected to the fuel flow controller 374 by means of the wire pair 388. In response to the fuel flow controller 374 interpreting a high temperature present, the fuel flow controller 374 energizes another valve, eg. spring loaded normally closed solenoid fuel valve 390, by means of wire pair 392.

The fuel flow controller 374 also sends a signal to the primary controller 372 by means of wire bundle 376 which in turn causes the primary

controller 372 to de-energize the high voltage power supply and stop the sparking at electrode 304. The temperature in burner cup 44 is constantly measured by the temperature measuring means 386 and monitored by the fuel flow controller 374 by means of the connection through wire pair 388. If at any point the temperature drops below a preset temperature of for example 400°F, the fuel flow controller 374 sends a signal to the primary controller 372 by means of wire bundle 376. If the primary controller 372 registers the fact that the fuel flow is on and the temperature has fallen below the preset temperature of for example 400°F, the primary controller 372 will re-energize the high voltage power supply 378 causing high voltage to flow along wire 302 to electrode 304 where sparks will again be created in order to relight the fuel in the burner 298 and to re-establish the flame. The heat from the flame will again heat the temperature measuring means 386 which is monitored by the fuel flow controller 374 through wire pair 388.

Once the preset temperature of for example 400°F is reached, the fuel flow controller 374 will send a signal to the primary controller 372 by means of the wire bundle 376 which will in turn cause the primary controller 372 to de-energize the high voltage power supply and stop the sparking at electrode 304. If the temperature is not re- established within a preset amount of time, the fuel flow controller 374 preferably de-energizes spring loaded normally closed solenoid valves 382 and 390 by de-energizing wires 384 and 392 respectively. Thus, a safety means for ensuring that the burner is lit is incorporated in the design.

The electrical energy from one or more coils, eg. generator coil 318, provides power to the rechargeable battery 394 by means of the wire pair 180. The battery 394 in turn provides power to the primary controller 372 to which it is attached. The primary controller 372 senses the input to the battery from the generator coil 318 which causes the primary controller 372 to send a signal to the displacer control coil 328 by means of wire 154. This positively polarized signal sent to the displacer control coil 328 causes an upward force on the magnet 286 which in turn

causes the magnet 286 and the displacer 46 affixed thereto to move upwards towards magnet 288.

In addition to the basic cycle, the new heat engine optionally incorporates means to modulate the fuel burn and optimize energy efficiency. There are a plurality, eg. four, solenoid fuel valves 390,294,396 and 398 which are connected to the fuel flow controller 374 by means of wire pairs 392,402,404, and 406 respectively. The primary controller 372 senses the current flowing to the load 408 through wire pairs 410,412, and 414 by means of the hall effect current sensor 416 which is connected to the primary controller 372 by means of wire pair 418. The power from the generator coils flows out to the load 408 (eg. an outlet or an electric apparatus) by means of wires 420 and 422. When the primary controller 372 determines that the current flowing to the load is, eg., between 0 to 25 percent of the maximum output power of the heat engine and generator, it ensures that only solenoid fuel valve 390 is energized by sending a signal along two of the eight wires in the wire bundle 376 which connects the primary controller 372 to the fuel flow controller 374. The fuel flow controller 374 in turn energizes only the spring loaded normally closed solenoid valves 382 and 390.

When the primary controller 372 determines that the current flowing to the load is, eg., between 26 to 50 percent of the maximum output power of the heat engine and generator, it sends a signal to the primary fuel controller 374 along two of the wires in the wire bundle 376.

This signal causes the primary fuel controller 374 to energize an additional spring loaded normally closed solenoid fuel valve 396 by means of the wire pair 402 which causes the spring loaded normally closed solenoid fuel valve 396 to open thereby increasing the fuel flow to the burner 298.

When the primary controller 372 determines that the current flowing to the load is, eg., between 51 to 75 percent of the maximum output power of the heat engine and generator, it sends a signal to the primary fuel controller 374 along two of the wires in the wire bundle 376.

This signal causes the primary fuel controller 374 to energize yet another spring loaded normally closed solenoid fuel valve 398 by means of the

wire pair 404 which causes the spring loaded normally closed solenoid fuel valve 398 to open thereby further increasing the fuel flow to the burner 298.

When the primary controller 372 determines that the current flowing to the load is, eg., greater than 75 percent of the maximum output power of the heat engine and generator, it sends a signal to the primary fuel controller 374 along two of the wires in the wire bundle 376. This signal causes the primary fuel controller 374 to energize yet another spring loaded normally closed solenoid fuel valve 400 by means of the wire pair 406 which causes the spring loaded normally closed solenoid fuel valve 400 to open thereby further increasing the fuel flow to the burner 298. Conversely, if the power level decreases to the range below which the burner is operating, the system closes excess spring loaded normally closed solenoid fuel valves until the number of open valves and the load are matched.

Under normal operating conditions the output voltage controller 424 connect to the primary controller 372 by means of wire 426 and the voltage controller connects the wire pairs 410,412 and 414 from generator coils 320,322 and 324 in parallel and the output frequency of the generator is equal to the displacer frequency. If an overload occurs as sensed by current sensor 416, the voltage controller preferably disconnects the load 408 thereby protecting the generator. In the case where the output from the generator is being rectified, the frequency of operation of the displacer will also be varied so as to optimize efficiency of the system.

Accordingly, for example, a feedback member comprises controller 372 operatively connected to variable fuel flow valve 294 and current sensor 416 connected to the output (load 408) whereby the current sensor senses the current drawn from the output and the controller adjusts the flow rate of fuel supplied to the combustion chamber based on the amount of current drawn from the load.

Regenerator

In accordance with another aspect of this invention, a novel construction for a regenerator is provided. As shown in Figures 6a, regenerator 42 is preferably also of a thin wall construction. In particular, regenerator 42 may be manufactured from copper (which may be coated with an inverting layer such as silicon monoxide and/or silicon dioxide), aluminum (which is coated with an inverting layer such as silicon monoxide and/or silicon dioxide), stainless steel or a super nickel alloy and have a thickness from about 0.0005 to about 0.005 inches, more preferably from about 0.001 to about 0.002 inches.

As shown in Figure 6a, regenerator 42 may comprise one and preferably a plurality of sections 208 which are joined together by a plurality of longitudinally extending members 210. Longitudinally extending members 210 are spaced apart on opposed sides of openings 212. Openings 212 define thermal breaks between sections 208 so as to minimize the heat conducted from hot end 214 to cool end 216.

Accordingly, longitudinally extending members 210 are preferably as thin as possible in the circumferential direction so as to minimize the heat transferred between sections 208 while still maintaining sufficient structural integrity of regenerator 42 so that regenerator 42 may be handled as a single member. In the embodiment of Figure 1, regenerator 42 comprises a plurality of individual sections 208.

Regenerator 42 may be made from sheet metal which is roll formed. Then louvres (directing members) 218 and openings 212 are preferably formed (eg. by stamping). Subsequently, the material is formed into a cylindrical tube and may be spot welded together to form regenerator 42. Sublouvres (secondary directing members) may be provided as are shown in Figures 17,18a and 18b. Alternately, as shown in Figures 6 e and 6f, regenerator 42 may be made from sheet metal which is folded repeatedly to define a plurality of outwardly extending portions 213. Preferably, outwardly extending portions are tightly packed adjacent each other so that they extend generally radially outwardly. The spacing between outwardly extending portions varies the position where the material is folded (point 213a) to the position where the material is again

folded (point 213b) and defines a generally V shaped opening having a mean diameter"d" (see Figure 6f). Flow channels 215 are positioned between adjacent outwardly extending portions 213 in the generally V shapped openings and extend longitudinally through regenerator 42. As shown in Figure 6f, such a regenerator 42 is folded to define an annular band which is preferably positioned immediately interior of outer wall 12 and has a central opening 217 within which displacer 46 travels. As discussed previously, inner wall 30 may be provided to define the channel within which displacer 46 travels so that regenerator is positioned between inner and outer walls 30 and 12.

Regenerator 42 is positioned in fluid flow path 40 between outer and inner walls 12 and, 30 as exemplified in Figure 2a, the regenerator preferably extends along a substantial portion of fluid flow path 40. As shown in Figure 2a, regenerator 42 commences at about the top 136 of displacer 46 when displacer 46 is positioned distal to driver 48.

Further, regenerator 42 preferably ends adjacent opening 158 in inner wall 30. It will be appreciated that the construction of regenerator 42 may be used as a heat exchanger in other parts of a heat engine provided that section has sufficient strength to support the regenerator material.

In order to improve the heat transfer between the working fluid and regenerator 42, regenerator 42 may have a plurality of louvres 218 provided therein. Louvres 218 may extend continuously along the length of regenerator 42 or, as shown in Figures 6a and 6e, louvres 218 may be provided in a series of groups 219. Exemplary louvres 218 are shown in more detail in Figure 6d. Regenerator 42 comprises a main body portion 248. Louvres may be formed such as by stamping or other means known in the art. As shown in Figure 6d, each louvres 218 comprises an angled panel which extends outwardly from main body portion 248 and has opposed flanges 250 extending between front portion 256 of angled panel 252 and main body portion 248. As shown in Figure 6d, some of the louvres may have angled panels that extend in a first direction (e. g. upwards in Figure 6d) and another set of louvres may extend in the opposite direction (e. g. downwards as shown in Figure 6d). The designs

which are shown in Figures 12d, 17,18a and 18b may be used for louvres 218.

In Figures 6b and 6c, a heat exchanger using a coil of the material used to form regenerator 42 of Figure 6a is shown. Regenerator is preferably fixed in position such as by spot welding regenerator 42 to one of outer and inner walls 12 and 30. Referring to Figure 6c, arrows represent the flow of fluid through louvres 218. Louvres 218 direct the fluid to pass first from one side of main body portion 248 to the opposed side and, subsequently, a portion to flow from the opposed side back to the initial side of main body portion 248. The continual flow of fluid through main body portion 248 (from one side to the other) produces an improved heat transfer between the working fluid and regenerator 42. In particular, when the working fluid is passing through the regenerator from heating chamber 140 to cooling chamber 160, regenerator 42 accumulates heat which is transferred back to the working fluid when the working fluid travels from cooling chamber 160 to heating chamber 140.

It is to be appreciated that louvred fins may be used in place of part or all of regenerator 42. Further, a section 208 of the regenerator material may be used as a heat exchanger in passageway 64 or in the upper portion of passageway 40 provided that positioning members are provided to dimensionally stabilize the upper end of inner and outer walls 30 and 12. For example, one or more rings 476 may be provided adjacent the upper end of inner wall 30.

Heat exchanger 258 may also be incorporated into the portion of fluid flow path 40 which is positioned in heating zone 22 (see Figure 2a) as well as in the cooling zone 26. This heat exchanger assists in transferring heat from the exhaust gases in first pass 86 of heat exchanger 67 to the working fluid as it travels from heating chamber 140 to cooling chamber 160.

Heat exchanger 258 may be made from the same material as regenerator 42. This is shown in particular in Figure 6a. In Figure 6b, a heat exchanger 258 is shown comprising a plurality of layers of the louvres material shown in Figure 6a. The number of layers of louvred

main body portion 248 which is utilized as regenerator 42 or as heat exchanger 258 may vary depending upon the desired thermal efficiency of heat exchanger 258 as well as regenerator 42. For example, if the radial thickness of fluid flow path 40 is about 0.05 inches, then only a single layer heat exchanger 258 may be required as is shown in Figure 6a.

The construction of the regenerator shown in Figures 6e and 6f may also be used as heat exchangers in the portion of fluid flow path 40 which is positioned in heating zone 22 as well as in the cooling zone 26.

Theses heat exchangers may be made integrally as one longitudinally extending member or they may be made in individual longitudinally extending sections.

When the heat exchangers in heater zone 22, cooling zone 26 and the regenerator are formed constructed from different sections of material, then the thickness"t" (see Figure 6f) of each section is preferably varied to improve the heat exchange characteristics of the construction. As the temperature difference between the fluid and the metal decreases, additional surface area is required to maintain the heat transfer rate between the fluid and the metal. Accordingly, progressively thinner material is preferably used in sections having a lower steady state temperature so as to increase the number of louvres per unit of space and thereby increase the surface area available for heat transfer. As the fluid cools as it travels through the sections from the heating zone to the cooling zone, the gas volume decreases and the velocity decreases. This decrease in velocity reduces the rate of heat transfer. By increase the number of louvres per unit of space, the void volume is decreased (the packing is increased) thereby preferably preventing the velocity of the fluid from significantly varying as the fluid changes temperature while minimizing the back pressure. Accordingly, it is preferred to provide a number of sections of differing thickness so that the spacing between the louvres may be varied whereby the heat transfer rate may be maintained substantially constant as the fluid changes temperature as it travels between the heating and the cooling chambers.

For example, if the sections are separately formed, then louvres 218 of the heat exchangers for the heating and cooling zones are preferably spaced apart such that the mean diameter"d" (see Figure 6f) is from 1 to 20 times the metal thickness, more preferably 2 to 10 times the metal thickness and most preferably about 4-5 times the metal thickness.

Accordingly, the mean diameter"d"adjacent sections 213 is preferably 0.001 to 0.020 inches, preferably 0.002 to 0.012 inches and more preferably 0.006 inches. In addition, louvres 218 of the regenerator are preferably spaced apart such that the mean diameter"d"is from 1 to 10 times the metal thickness, more preferably 2 to 5 times the metal thickness and most preferably about 3 times the metal thickness. Accordingly, the mean diameter"d"adjacent sections 213 is preferably 0.0005 to 0.006 inches, preferably 0.001 to 0.004 inches and more preferably 0.002 inches. The regenerator itself may also be constructed of a series of separate sections.

In such a case. For example, the regenerator may be constructed from three sections comprising a hot section having a thickness"t"of, e. g., 0.004, an intermediate section having a thickness"t"of, e. g., 0.003 and a cool section having a thickness"t"of, e. g., 0.001.

When the heat exchangers in heater zone 22, cooling zone 26 and the regenerator are formed integrally, then the unit is preferably constructed from a suitable metal that has a thickness"t"which is suitable for all sections, e. g., from about 0.001 to about 0.004 inches and preferably about 0.002 inches. Louvres 218 are preferably spaced apart such that the mean diameter"d"is from 1 to 10 times the metal thickness, more preferably 2 to 5 times the metal thickness and most preferably about 3 to 4 times the metal thickness. Accordingly, the mean diameter"d"adjacent sections 213 is preferably 0.002 to 0.020 inches, preferably 0.004 to 0.010 inches and more preferably 0.005 inches.

Fins In accordance with another aspect of this invention, there is provided a novel construction for heat exchangers. As discussed above, means to assist in transferring heat between the structural components of

the heat engine and a fluid may be provided in any of the air flow passages of the heat exchanger. For example, they may be provided in passages 64,40,86,88 and 102. At least one heat exchange member or fin is preferably provided in each fluid flow passage. In one embodiment, as exemplified by Figure 14, the fins are constructed to allow the flow of fluid through the fin as the fluid flows axially through the heat exchanger. In another embodiment, the fins are constructed and arranged to produce a directed fluid flow as the fluid passes through the heat exchanger (e. g. see Figures 12,12a, 13 and 16). A plurality of individual annular fins may be provided. Alternately, one or more continuous helical fins as shown in Figure 16 may be provided. In either case, the fins define a plurality of rows of fins in the heat exchanger that the fluid encounters as it flows through the heat exchanger and thus the fluid is acted on by the fins several times as it flows through the heat exchanger. In a further embodiment, the fins are preferably provided with directing members whereby the fin is configured and arranges to produce a main flow of fluid which flows through the fin and to produce a secondary fluid flow which passes through the main directing members whereby the transfer of heat between the fluid and the heat exchanger is enhanced. Examples of such directing members are shown in Figures 16,17,18a and 18b. The directing members may be configured and arranged to produce a cyclonic or swirling flow of air (see Figures 12e) or a cross-flow pattern (see Figures 12f).

In the preferred embodiment of the heat exchanger, as exemplified by Figure 1, the fins are positioned between two concentric cylinders which are spaced apart to define an air flow passage. A second air flow passage is positioned interior of the inner of the two concentric cylinders or exterior of the outer of the two concentric cylinders. The fins may be affixed to the wall of the heat exchanger by any means known in the heat exchanger art but are preferably mechanically affixed to one or both of the inner wall and the outer wall and extend all the way across the air flow passage. However, the instant fin design may be used in a passage of any particular configuration for a heat exchanger. For example,

the heat exchanger could have a square cross-section defining a first fluid flow passage with the fins longitudinally spaced apart in the passage. A plurality of generally parallel tubes (for containing a fluid at a second temperature) could extend longitudinally through the fins to thereby define a heat exchanger with a square cross-section.

Referring to Figure 12, annular fin 428 has a top surface 430 and inner edge 432, an outer edge 434 and a lower surface 436. Top and bottom surfaces 430 and 436 are opposed surfaces of fin 428. Inner and outer edges 432 and 434 are curved and have a portion which abuts against the longitudinally extending surface of a wall. See for example surface 438 of Figure 12b. Such rings may be used in a fluid flow passage which exists between spaced apart cylindrical tubes. For example, such rings may be inserted in passageways 64 or 102 (see Figure 1). In order to provide a plurality of annular fins 428 in passageway 102, outer burner shield 70 could be placed inside air preheat shield 72 to define passageway 102. Any desired number of rings, preferably a plurality thereof, could be inserted into passageway 102 one at a time with edges 432 and 434 pointing towards entry port 104. Rings would then slide along the inner walls of shields 70 and 72 until they were positioned in the desired location. Annular fins 428 are preferably sized such that edges 432 and 434 are drawn towards each other upon insertion into passageway 102. The pressure between edges 432 and 434 mechanically lock annular fins 428 in position. Preferably, the pressure which is exerted between fin 428 and shields 70 and 72 is sufficient to ensure that the rate of heat transfer between shields 70 and 72 and annular fin 428 is maintained over the normal operating temperature of shields 70 and 72. In this way, as the dimension of passageway 102 may change under different thermal conditions, sufficient contact will be maintained between the annular fins and the walls of passageway 102 to ensure that the desired rate of heat transfer is maintained.

Another embodiment of such an annular fin is shown in Figure 12a. In this embodiment annular fin 440 has opposed surfaces (i. e. top surface 446 and the bottom surface) which is generally flat (so as to be

generally transverse to the longitudinal fluid flow path through the heat exchanger) and an outer edge 444 which is curved as in the case of annular fin 428 to define a collar. Inner edge 442 is not curved. Examples of such fins are shown in passage 102 of Figure 1. The outer diameter of fin 440 is selected such that when inserted into annular passage 102, the pressure which is exerted between outer edge 444 and inner surface of outer burner shield 72 will deform the collar and lockingly hold annular fin 440 in position. It will be appreciated that a curved edge (or collar) may be provided instead only on the inner edge. For example, referring to the fins shown in passageway 88 of Figure 1, inner edge 442 may be curved so as to have the collar like portion of fin 440 of Figure 12a so as to lockingly engage a wall positioned on the interior of the ring (in this case, inner burner shield 68). The top surface of the fin preferably extends horizontally to have a blunt nosed edge. In this embodiment, the inner diameter of the annular fin is selected so as to be slightly smaller than inner burner shield 68 so as to lockingly engage inner burner shield 68 when inserted therein. Accordingly, in accordance to one aspect of this invention, fins which have air flow passages there through are provided to lockingly engage one or both walls of an annular passage to thereby maintain contact with the selected walls over the operating temperature of the heat exchanger. The passages may be provided as openings 456 in a fin or by passages 474 between blades 472 of a fin (see Figure 13).

As shown in Figure 16, one or more helical fins 448 may be provided instead of a plurality of individual annular fins such as fins 428 or 440. Helical fin 448 is shown in Figure 16 in an embodiment where it is positioned in the annular passage between outer and inner walls 12 and 30. In this embodiment, helical fin 448 has curved inner and outer edges 450 and 452 for locking engagement with surfaces 36 and 34 respectively.

It will be appreciated that helical fin 448 need have only one curved edge (either inner out outer) so as to lockingly engage only a single wall 12 or 30.

When used in a heat exchanger, the fins are preferably constructed to allow a fluid to flow there through to enhance the heat

transfer between the fluid and the heat exchanger. In the embodiment of Figures 12 and 12a, fins 428 and 440 are designed to extend fully across the annular gap between and inner and an outer wall. Therefore, fin 428 is provided with a plurality of openings 456. In order to improve the heat transfer between the fluid and the heat exchanger, comprising fin 428 and the surface of the walls with which fin 428 is in contact, a plurality of directing members 458 may be provided. As the air travels longitudinally, in the direction of axis A of Figure 2a, the air encounters top or bottom surface 430 or 436 of fin 428 and passes through openings 456, heat is transferred between fin 428 and the fluid passing through the heat exchanger.

As shown in Figures 12 and 12a, each of the direction members 458 extends upwardly in the same direction. Accordingly, as fluid travels longitudinally (or axially) through the heat exchanger, the fluid will be deflected by directing members 458 to swirl around in a cyclonic type flow. Accordingly, for example, referring to the embodiment of Figure 12e, a plurality of fins 428 may be positioned on outer surface 32 of outer wall 12. As fluid travels upwardly through openings 456, directing members 458 will cause the air to flow cyclonically around outer wall 32.

As exemplified by Figures 12c and 12d, some of the directing members 458 extend upwardly from top surface 446 and some extend downwardly. As shown in Figure 12c, directing members 458 may extend away from surface 446 in the same direction or, alternately, as shown in Figure 12d, they may extend towards each other. Preferably, directing members 458 extend towards each other as shown in Figure 12d.

Directing members 458 have a distal end 460 spaced circumferentially from the position where directing member 458 contacts top surface 446. As air travels through opening 456, it travels along the bottom surface of directing member 458 until it encounters distal end 460.

When the fluid encounters distal end 460, turbulent flow is created. As a result of the turbulent flow, a portion of the fluid, preferably at least about 65%, continues to travel upwardly through the heat exchanger while the remainder of the fluid is caused to travel in a reverse manner through an

adjoining opening 456 to the lower surface of fin 440. Accordingly, directing members 458 cause a portion of the fluid travelling through the heat exchanger to pass at least twice, and preferably three times, through a fin 440 as the fluid travels axially through the heat exchanger. For example, as the fluid flows through the heat exchanger, a portion of the fluid which has travelled through a fin 440 from lower surface 436 to top surface 430 will travel in the reverse direction from top surface 430 to lower surface 436. This portion of the fluid may then be reentrained in the longitudinal flow of fluid through the heat exchanger and travel again from lower surface 436 to top surface 430 and continue on flowing through the heat exchanger to encounter another fin 440. This is shown in particular in Figure 12f. This type of flow wherein the directing members are configured and arranged to cause a portion of the fluid which has passed through the a fin from the first opposed side to the second opposed side to then pass from the second opposed side to the first opposed side is referred to as"cross-flow". This flow is advantageous as it causes a portion of the fluid to be in contact with fin 440 for a greater period of time thereby increasing the heat transfer between fin 440 and the fluid.

Directing members may be formed in several ways. As shown in Figures 12c and 12d, directing members 458 constitute a flange which may be cut or stamped from surface 446. In such a case, only one edge of directing member 458 may be in contact with the remainder of the fin. An alternate construction of a directing member is shown in Figures 17,18a and 18b. In this case, directing member 462 is in contact with the fin over more than one surface. In particular, as shown in Figures 17,18a and 18b, directing member 462 has a transverse or radial side 464 which is in contact with top surface 454 as well as opposed longitudinal edges 466 which are in contact with top surface 454. The increased contact surface between directing member 462 and the fin permit a greater amount of heat to be transferred between directing member 462 and the fin thus improving heat transfer between directing member 462 and the fluid flowing through opening 456. Directing members 462 may be produced

by a stamping operation. Directing members 462 may be provided on any of the fins described herein.

In an alternate embodiment, the fin may comprise an annular member which comprises a radial blade. In particular, as shown in Figure 13, fin 468 may have a hub (which may be a curved inner edge or collar 470) and a plurality of blades 472 which extend outwardly, and preferably radially outwardly, there from (or a hub and a plurality of blades which extend inwardly). Blades 472 are preferably angled with respect to the plane of fin 468 so as to direct air to flow in a prescribed pattern through the heat exchanger. The spacing between adjacent blades 472 comprises a passage 474 through which a fluid may flow. It will be appreciated that blades 472 may be oriented in the same direction (as is the case with directing members 458 in Figure 12), thus causing a swirling flow of the fluid in the heat exchanger as is represented by Figure 12e. It will be appreciated that some of blades 472 may direct the fluid upwardly whereas others may direct the fluid downwardly (in the same manner as directing members 458 of Figures 12c or 12d) to create a cross-flow as shown by Figure 12f. It will further be appreciated that, as with fin 440, radial blades 472 preferably extend substantially all and preferably all the way across the annular space between the concentric cylinders so as to direct as much air as possible to flow through passages 474.

In some circumstances, a limited amount of heat may need to be transferred between the fluid and the fin. In such a case, the fin may be provided with openings without any directing members. An example of such a fin is shown in Figure 14. In this case, the fin comprises a ring 476 having a plurality of openings (for example circular openings 478) provided in top surface 480. Once again, inner and/or outer edge 482 and 484 may be curved as shown in Figure 14.

In a further preferred embodiment, the directing members are themselves provided with directing members so as to cause the fluid to travel through the directing member as the fluid passes through the heat exchanger. An example of such a directing member is shown in Figure 16. In this case, directing member 458 is provided with at least one

and preferably a plurality of openings 486 provided therein. For example, referring to Figure 17, directing member 462 has a plurality of openings 486 provided therein. Some of the fluid will travel through openings 486 as the fluid travels through openings 456 in the fin. Preferably, as shown in Figures 18a and 18b, the directing member is a main directing member and has a plurality of secondary directing members 488 or sublouvres provided thereon. It will be appreciated that the secondary directing members may use the construction techniques of fins 440 (eg. it may be a flanged or stamped opening) or of fins 468 (eg. it may be a passage through a blade). As in the case with the main directing members, a secondary directing member is preferably associated with each secondary opening 486. As shown in Figure 18a, secondary directing members 488 may all be oriented in the same direction such that as the fluid flows axially through the fin from lower surface 490 to upper surface 492, the fluid passes only once (i. e. unidirectionally) from lower or inner surface 494 of directing member 462 to upper or outer surface 496 of directing member 462 (inner surface 494 and outer surface 496 are opposed surfaces). In the alternate embodiment of Figure 18b, some of the secondary directing members 488 extend upwardly from upper surface 496 and some extend downwardly from lower surface 494. As shown in Figure 18b, directing members may alternately extend upwardly and downwardly or they may be in any other random pattern (as is also the case with main directing members 458 in the embodiments of Figures 12c and 12d). In this case, as the fluid travels axially through the heat exchanger from lower surface 490 to upper surface 492 of the fin, a portion of the fluid will be caused to pass at least twice through main directing member 462 due to turbulent flow created by secondary directing members 488 thus creating cross flow of fluid similar to that shown in Figure 12f. It will be appreciated that openings and preferably openings with associated secondary directing members 488 may also be provided on blades 472. In another embodiment, blades 472 may be provided as secondary directing members.

In accordance with another aspect of this invention, any of these fin designs may be provided on the outer surface of outer wall 12 as shown in Figure 1 to assist in cooling chamber 160. These fins may define the outer perimeter of the heat engine. Alternately, as shown in Figure 1, a further outer cylindrical sleeve 522 may be provided. This may be an extension of air preheat shield 72. Air flow path 524 is an extension of preheat air flow path 102 and is used to transfer heat from the cooling chamber to the air for combustion. As shown in Figure 1, the cooling fins of heat exchanger 330 transfer heat from outer wall 12 to the air for combustion. A fan is optionally provided for producing forced convection flow through air flow path 524. The fan may be mounted at any position to provide this flow. As shown in Figure 1, the fan is provided adjacent the entrance to air flow path 524. The fan comprises a motor 526 and a fan blade 528 driven by the motor. Preferably, both motor 526 and fan blade 528 are annular. They may be mounted on one or both of the walls that define air flow path 524 (i. e., outer wall 12 and/or sleeve 522 in the embodiment of Figure 1). If fan 528 is annular, then it may be mounted on an annular fan mount 530 which is drivenly connected to annular motor 526.

In accordance with another aspect of this invention, any of these fin designs may be provided on the inner surface 60 of heater cup 44 as shown in Figure 1 to assist in transferring heat from the combustion gas in combustion chamber 92 to the wall of heater cup 44 (the combustion chamber housing) as exemplified by reference numeral 532 in Figure 1).

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that other modifications may be made to a heat engine and the flashlight disclosed herein and all of these are within the scope of the following claims. For example, the construction of regenerator 42 and the construction of the louvred heat exchanger may be used in any application heat exchange application.

Any heat exchanger construction known in the art may be used with the thin walled design provided herein to provide a heat

exchanger means between the hot exhaust gases produced in burner cup 44 and the working fluid in the heat engine. In order to increase the thermal efficiency of the heat engine, the air for combustion may be preheated such as by use of the exhaust gas.