Stirling engine receives Engineering Heritage Award

Reverend Robert Stirling’s Stirling engine has been awarded an Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Engineering Heritage Award. The award recognised the engine’s ability to save fuel as well as creating a safer alternative to steam engines.

Rev Stirling invented the engine in 1816 before presenting it to the University of Glasgow in 1827. The heat engine operates by cyclic compression and expansion of air, or another gas at different temperatures.

The award was presented by Stuart Cameron MBE, FREng, to Professor David Gaimster, director of The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, at a special ceremony.

Cameron, said: “The Stirling engine was a fantastic bit of innovation because of its ability to run directly on any available heat source, not just one that has been produced by combustion.

“It was invented two hundred years ago and although initially the utilisation tended to be relatively low, it is now being used extensively worldwide on marine engines, along with micro combined heat and power plants, which confirms its legacy.”

The Engineering Heritage Awards recognise artefacts of special engineering significance and previous winners of these awards include Concorde 101, Tower Bridge and the Jaguar E-type.

Prof Gaimster, director of The Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow, said: “We are delighted to receive this prestigious award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The effect the Stirling engine has had on society is evident for all to see and is still being used in many capacities today.”