The Best Explanation of How a Thermoacoustic Engine Works

This brilliant video by Grand Illusions YouTube channel clearly explains how the fascinating thermoacoustic engine work
Jessica Miley

There are lots of different sorts of engines, many of which are difficult to understand. But this great video by Grand Illusions clearly simply explains how a thermoacoustic engine works.

Lord Rayleigh discussed the possibility of this kind of engine back in 1887 but was unable to make it a reality due to technological limitation at the time.

The engine is demonstrated in the video by a small model engine that has an optimum running speed is 2700 rpm when warmed up fully.

The video’s host suggests that it is the fastest thermoacoustic engine available.

“The thermoacoustic engine works by converting sound waves into motion. The sound waves are generated by heating one end of a 'stack' of coiled material and allowing the other end to remain cool," says the video's description.

This particular engine is fired by a small spirit burner but the fuel could be anything stable. When the end of the coiled 'stack' is heated a bouncing pressure wave is set up inside the tube.

The pressure fluctuations inside the tube drive the engine. In the expansion phase, the piston is pushed outwards, in the contraction phase the piston is pulled inwards.

This type of engine requires a push start for the flywheel, or else the pressure and velocity of the standing wave remain at equilibrium.

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