A typical undergraduate course in thermal-fluids design sees the unfolding of important concepts in heat transfer, thermodynamics, and fluid mechanics and associated governing laws. Unfortunately, up until the recent past students have largely been asked to study fundamental, but often elusive, topics in these areas by means of simplified problems mostly resulting in the solution of elementary sets of algebraic equations. More complex problems involving higher order equations and ordinary differential equations are left unexamined, due mostly to the time consumption and difficulty level of programming, which may detract from the scope of the class.
Fortunately, there now exists prewritten software (i.e. EES, Matlab, Mathematica, etc.) which numerically allows students to solve more challenging problems with relative ease. Thus allowing thermal-fluids design courses to focus on more challenging projects.
This paper illustrates the use of a program, written for an equation solving software package that solves the ordinary differential equations governing the processes of the Stirling engine. Stirling engines, their history and present applications along with the methods EES software uses to allow for the engine’s study is briefly described. A step by step development of the general equations concerning mass, energy, entropy balances, and the Nusselt number for approximating the heat transfer coefficient is given and discussed. Results are shown through plotting numerical solutions of various points of interest. Lastly, a list of the program’s equations will be supplied in an appendix at the end of the paper.