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Editor'snote:Thisisthe101stin a seriesof reviewandtutorialpapers


Thermoacoustic engines
G.W. Swift
Matter and ThermalPhysics
New Mexico 87545

(Received17March 1988;acceptedfor publication5 July 1988)

Thermoacoustic engines,
or acousticheatengines,are energy-conversion devicesthat achieve
simplicityandconcomitant reliabilityby useof acoustictechnology.
Their efficiency
canbe a
substantialfractionof Carnot'sefficiency.In thermoacousticprime movers,heat flow from a
high-temperature sourceto a low-temperature sinkgenerates acousticpower(whichmaybe
convertedto electricpowerusinga transducer).In thermoacoustic heatpumpsand
acousticpoweris usedto pumpheatfroma low-temperature sourceto a high-
temperaturesink.This reviewteachesthe fundamentals of thermoacoustic
engines,by analysis,
intuition, and example.

PACS numbers: 43.10.Ln, 43.35.Ud, 84.60.Rb, 43.20.Ks

CONTENTS B. Resonators........................................................1162
C. Transducers ...................................................... 1164
Introduction .............................................................. 1146
A. History ............................................................. 1148 IV. Examplesof thermoacousticengines.................. 1166
A. The lecture demonstration ............................... 1166
I. The singleplate......................................................1149
A. Oscillatorytemperature...................................1150 B. Thermoacoustic refrigerator ............................. 1167
B. Heat flux, work flux, and efficiency.................. 1152 C. Liquid-sodiumthermoacousticengine.............1169
C. Lagrangianpoint of view.................................. 1154 V. Related engines..................................................... 1172
II. The shortengine...................................................1156 A. Stirling engines.................................................1174
A. Zero viscosity................................................... 1157 B. Pulse-tube refrigerators....................................1175
B. Arbitrary viscosity............................................ 1159 Acknowledgments..................................................... 1176
III. Other componentsof thermoacousticengines .... 1160 Appendix................................................................... 1176
A. Heat exchangers...............................................1161 References ................................................................. 1179


A area heat flux per unit area
soundspeed R resonator radius, or resistance
COP coefficientof performance Re real part of
isobaricheat capacityper unit mass r radial coordinate
E energy s entropyper unit mass
power T temperature,or transductioncoefficient
½ energyper unit volume • t time
power per unit area u volumetric velocity
f frequency,or functionin Eq. (56) or (57) x componentof velocity
G gap v voltage
total energyflux velocity, or its y component
I electric current work flux, or acousticpower
Im imaginarypart of w enthalpy per unit mass
K thermal conductivity power per unit volume
L resonatorlength x positionalongsoundpropagation
l plate half-thickness y positionperpendicularto soundpropagation
M Mach number yo plate half-gap
m mass z impedance
P,p pressure thermal expansioncoefficient
Q quality factor of resonance F normalizedtemperaturegradient

1145 J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 84 (4), October 1988 0001-4966/88/101145-36500.80 @ 1988 AcousticalSociety of America 1145

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y ratio, isobaricto isochoricspecificheats C Carnot
Ax plate length C cold
6 penetrationdepth E electrical
es plate heat capacityratio H hot
r/ efficiency hx heat exchanger
tc thermal diffusivity I current
A wavelength i in, or input
X radian wavelength L load
/• dynamicviscosity M mechanical
m mean
v kinematicviscosity
• secondviscosity o out, or output
rad radiation
Ii perimeter
res resonator
p density
• viscous stress tensor s standing,or solid
cr Prandtl number t traveling
r period of the oscillation V voltage
• phaseangle x alongsound-propagation direction
co angular frequency y perpendicularto sound-propagationdirection
tc thermal
Subscripts and superscripts v viscous
A amplitude 1 first order
ac acoustic 2 second order

INTRODUCTION f primemovercan achieve.For the heatpump,the efficiency

In our introductory thermodynamicscourseswe learn iscalledthecoefficient
of performanceCOP= Qc/W, re-
that thereare two classesof heatengines:primemoversand flecting
heatpumps,asshownin Fig. 1. In a prime mover,heat flows Combining Eqs.(1) and(3) toeliminate
Q• yields
through the enginefrom high to low temperature,and the COP<Tc/(Tn- Tc) (5)
enginegenerates work. In a heatpump,the flowsof heatand and, again, the right side is called Carnot's coefficientof
work are reversed;i.e., work is absorbedby the engine,re- performance,COPc.
suitingin the pumpingof heatfrom low temperatureto high But theengineering of nuclearpowerplants,automobile
engines,window air conditioners,and other real heat en-
The first and secondlaws of thermodynamicsplacean ginesseemsvery far removedfrom theseconclusionsof ele-
upper bound on the efficiencyof heat engines.Let Tn and mentarythermodynamics. The desireto approachCarnot's
Tc be the temperaturesof the hot and cold thermal reser- efficiencymustcompeteagainstneedsfor low cost,highreli-
QuandQctheassociated heatflows,and ability,safety,compactness, etc.,to producethe designsfor
W theworkflow,asin Fig. 1. In theusualcaseof cyclic the practicalheat enginesavailablein our society.Sincethe
QH,Qc,andWaretime-averaged powers, principalqualitiesof the thermoacoustic enginesthat arethe
and we assumesteady-stateoperation,sothat the time-aver- subjectof this revieware reasonableefficiencyand extreme
agedstateof the engineitselfdoesnot change.The firstlaw simplicity,we believeit is very likely that practicaluseswill
of thermodynamics,simpleenergyconservation,statesthat be foundfor theseengines.
Oc- v-0.
The secondlaw statesthat the entropygeneratedby the sys-
Prime mover Heat pump
tem must be positiveor zero. Sincethe engineitself is in
(time-averaged)steadystate,we must focuson the net en- TH TH
/I///////////////////////// ///l///11/111111//l/I//l//
tropy increasein the reservoirs:
Qc/Tc - Qn/Tn>O, primemover; (2)
Qn/Tu - Qc/Tc>O, heatpump. (3)
For the prime mover, the efficiencyof interest (the desired q////
//////•///////////// •c
input)isr/= W/Qu. Com- ß
Tc Tc

biningEqs. ( 1) and (2) to eliminateQc, we find

FIG. 1.The two typesof heatengine,the primemoverand the heatpump.
rI = W/Qn< (Tn - Tc)/Tn. (4) Often,the primemoveris calledan "engine"andthe heatpumpis calleda
"refrigerator."We preferto usethe wordenginegenericallyto includeboth
The temperatureratio on the right sideof Eq. (4) is called functions,and to reservethe word refrigeratorfor thoseheatpumpswhose
Carnot's efficiencyr/c; it is the highest efficiencythat a purposeis to extractheatfrom the lower temperature.

1146 J. Acoust.Soc.Am.,Vol.84, No. 4, October1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacoustic

engines 1146

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To illustratethis simplicity,we now brieflydescribetwo
thermoacousticengines.They achievetheir simplicityby us-
ing no movingparts, no exoticmaterials,and no closetoler- Hot
ancesor critical dimensions.The first example, shown in exchanger ••- •.
Fig. 2, is just a lecture demonstrationthat generatesloud Prime mover_
soundusingthe heat from a propaneflame.This prime mov-
Room temp.
er is a copperpipe, closedat one end and opento air at the' exchangers •R =QH
other. Near the center, a sectionof the copperpipe is re-
Heat pump
placedwith a thin-walledstainless-steel tube,insideof which stack
is a stackof thin, well-spacedstainless-steel platesaligned
parallelto the tube axis.At eachend of the stainless-steel exchanger
stackthere is a set of spaced-apartcopperstrips,alsowith
their planesalignedparallelto the tube axis,and hard sol-
37 cm
deredto the copperpipe.None of the dimensions or align-
mentsis critical. In operation,heat from a hardware-store
propanetorch is appliedto the closedend of the pipe,and
room-temperature coolingwaterpasses througha thin tube
wrappedaroundand soft-soldered to the openend of the
pipe. The copperstripsnearestthe closedend carry the
torch's heat to that end of the stainless-steelstack, and the
the stack near the cooling-watertemperature.When the
temperaturedifferenceacrossthe stackis largeenough,the
air in the pipe oscillatesspontaneously
at about 500 Hz, a
frequencysuchthat a quarterwavelengthof soundequals
the pipe length, with a pressureantinode(i.e., amplitude
maximum) at the closedend and a velocityantinodeat the
openend.Thesoundradiatedfromtheopenendof thepipe
isimpressivelyloud,about100dBa meteraway.Thelecture
demonstration is a primemover:It produces
by acceptingheat from a high-temperaturesourceand re-
jectingheatto a low-temperaturesink. FIG. 3.Thebeercooler,a heat-driven
Our secondexampleto illustratethe simplicityof ther- QHcauses low-temperaturerefrigeration
Qc'QH+ Qcisrejected
moacousticenginesis a heat-drivenacousticrefrigerator
shownin Fig. 3 and affectionately
knownas"the beercool-
er." The beer cooler'scaseconsistsof a 37-cm-longtube,
steel in the center, and thin nickel near the bottom. Nearest
closedat the top, and openingat the bottom into a large
the top, there are a stackof platesand two setsof heat ex-
sphericalbulb.The casecontains3-bar (0.3-MPa) helium
changestripsjust like thoseof the lecture demonstration
gas,and is madeof thick nickelnearthe top, thin stainless
describedin the last paragraph.The platesin the stackare
0.025-cm-thickstainlesssteel,spaced0.08 cm apart;the up-
per,hot heatexchanger stripsarenickel,andthe lowerheat

•,/4: 16cm
exchanger stripsarecopperandareheldat 23 øCby cooling
Hot heat

watercirculatingthrougha collar aroundthe outsideof the
_,...... ////////••////////////////////
Work out case.When the temperatureof the hot heatexchangeris hot
enough,the heliumgasoscillatesspontaneously at about580
Hz (with a pressureantinodeat the closedtop of the case
and a velocityantinodeat the tube-bulbjunction), just asin
the lecture demonstration. Thus this stack functions as a
primemover,producingacousticwork from heat.
Heatout,at Tc Just below the prime-moverstack, another stack and
pair of heat exchangers functionas a heat pump,drivenby
FIG. 2. The lecturedemonstration,whichproducesloud soundfrom a heat the acousticwork generatedby the prime-moverstack.The
source.The quarter-wavelength longresonatorhascylindricalsymmetry. heat-pumpstackis identicalto the prime-moverstack,and
The stackof platesand two setsof heatexchangerstripsare alignedsothat
theirplanesareparallelto theaxisof theresonator,with theheatexchanger its upper,room-temperature heatexchangerandlower,cold
planessubstantially nonparallelto the plateplanes.Everythingis to scale heat exchangerare madeof copperstrips.Heat-exchanger
exceptthe thicknesses and spacingsof the platesand strips;thosedimen- stripsandadjacentstackplatesaresubstantially nonparallel
sionscanbe foundin Sec.IV. Thermoacousticeffectsin the stackof plates
to eachother, to preventaccidental,total blockageof any
produceacoustic powerat thefundamentalresonance frequencyof theres-
onator, while heat is externallysuppliedto the left end of the stackand gapsin the stackby a heat-exchanger strip.When the hot
removedfrom the right end. heat-exchanger temperatureis high enoughthat the gasos-

1147 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G. W. Swift: Thermoacoustic engines 1147

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ciliates,thecoldheatexchanger coolsto below0 øC,asheat -4

is pumpedfromthe coldheatexchanger to the room-tem-

peratureheatexchanger. Hence,thewholesystem functions
as a refrigerator,
with no movingparts,poweredby heat
deliveredat hightemperature.
In Figs.4 and 5 we displaydataobtainedwith thisde-
in Fig.4, whenthehotheatfluxOuisin-
creased fromzero,thehottemperature Tu increases
essen- .12 L I I I I I
tiallylinearlyat first,whiletheacoustic
pressureamplitude 0 2 4 6 8 10 12

Pl (measuredbetweenthe room-temperature heat ex- bc (w)

changers) remains at zeroandthecoldtemperature Tc re-
mains atroomtemperature. WhenOureaches about160W, FIG.5.Thebeercooler's
Tc asafunction
a qualitative
changeoccurs; abovethat value,Tu remains (•H-- 380W.
nearlyconstantat about400øC,Pl increases,andTc drops
to wellbelowwater'sfreezingtemperature. At thehighest
driveused (Ou= 380W),Pl= 0.2barandTc = -- 11øC. moacoustic engines,
weproceed in Sec.I, "Thesingleplate,"
For thisoperatingpoint,Fig. 5 showstheeffectof an exter- withanextremely
detailedpresentationofthesimplest ther-
nalheatloadQcapplied tothecoldheatexchanger. AsOcis moacoustic engineweknowof,to displaythekeyfeatures of
increasedfrom 0 to 10 W, Tc risesonly from -- 11 to thermoacoustics
with as few distracting complications as
-- 6 øC.
possible. In Sec.II, "The shortengine,"weaddrealisticde-
Thepurposeofthisreviewistogivethereadera qualita- tailsto the simplepictureof Sec.I, to arriveat an accurate
tive understanding
of thermoacoustic
phenomena suchas modelfor thermoacoustic phenomena, suchas in the two
occurin the lecturedemonstration
andthebeercooler,and examples justpresented. Mathematical
to teachthe readerhowto designsuchengines andhowto to the Appendix, sotheydo not detractfromdeveloping
predicttheirperformancein quantitative
detail.We assume intuition.Thosefeatures ofheatexchangers,
thatthereaderhashada normalundergraduate-level
expo- transducers thatarepeculiarto thermoacoustic
sureto acoustics
and thermodynamics,
sufficient,for exam- introduced in Sec.III, "Othercomponents
of thermoacous-
ple,to recognize
andstand- tic engines."The final two sectionsuseresultsfrom all four
ingwaves, to solveordinary
equationsusingthe previoussections
to explainthe performance
of severalen-
complexexponentialmethod,and to understandthe differ- gines:
inSec.IV, "Examples
encebetweenisothermalandadiabaticprocesses.After fin- thermoacoustic
witha briefhistoryof ther- Sec.V, "Relatedengines."

A. History
The historyof thermoacoustic
enginesis long but
sparselypopulated.A review of Putnam and Dennis2 de-
320 -- -
of Byron Higgins3 in 1777in which
in a largepipewereexcitedby suitable
280 a/ _ placementof a hydrogen flameinside.TheRijketube,4 an
earlyextensionof Higgins'work, is well knownto modern
•200160 •m
xm acousticiansas a dramatic lecture demonstrationfor under-
80 /
of pulsecombustion,
5 whoseapplica-
o tions have includedthe German V-1 rocket (the "buzz
' I I
24 •- bomb")usedin WorldWar II andthe residential
furnaceintroducedby Lennox,Inc. in 1982.

tube,6shownin Fig.6(a), istheearliest
8- thermoacoustic
enginethat is a direct antecedentof the
4- primemovers describedin thisreview.Over100yearsago,
glassblowersnoticedthatwhena hotglassbulbwasattached
-4 -
to a coolglasstubularstem,thestemtip sometimes emitted
-8 -
-12 sound,andSondhauss quantitatively
the rela-
0 1 oo 200 300 400 tionbetweenthe pitchof thesoundandthedimensions of the
(5. (w) apparatus.In someextensivehistoricalremarks,Rott7notes
thatSondhauss hadreferredtosomeresearchonthissubject
FIG. 4. Performance
of thebeercoolerwithno externalcoolingload 40 yearsearlier,knownat firstasthe "glowingglasshar-
(Qc= 0)asafunction
theleft monica."Lord Rayleigh 8 explainedthe Sondhauss tube
(I), normalized
bymeanpressure p•,= 3 bar,
qualitativelyin 1896:
guidesto the eye. "In almostallcases
toa body

1148 J.Acoust.
1988 G.W.Swift:
engines 1148

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(a) (b) Longsworth
by apply-
-•H Room-temp.•
ing a very low-frequency,high-amplitudepressureoscilla-
tion to the gasin a tube.As they explainedthe phenomenon,

I J "If any closedchamberis pressurizedand depressurized by
deliveryand exhaustionof gasfrom onepoint on its surface
and the flow is essentiallysmooth,heat pumpingwill occur
Heat igh-P
I awayfrom the point on its surface,"becauseof the tempera-
input ture changesthat accompanythe pressurechangesin the
gas,and their time-phasingrelative to the oscillatorygas
coolingaroundthe velocityantinodeof the gasresonatingin
a simple cylindrical resonator,and presentedan accurate
theory for the effect.
A most important advance in modern experimental
thermoacousticswas the realization by Carter and co-
Sound output workers
TMin 1962that placingsuitablestructures
(like the
stack of platesin Fig. 2) inside Sondhausstubes improved
FIG. 6. Early thermoacousticengines.(a) The Sondhausstube,an early theirperformance.
In somehistoricalremarks,Feldman
primemover,wasabout15cmlongandmadeof glass.(b) The pulse-tube statesthat thiswasthe firstexperimentalwork on Sondhauss
refrigeratorof Gifford and Longsworthachieveda temperatureratio
Tc/T,_• 1/2 whenoperatedat 1 Hz with a pressureratioPh•/P]o_•4.
oscillatorssince1917.The ideasof Carter etal. led quicklyto
Feldman'sPh.D. thesisresearch 16on Sondhauss oscillators.
His mostefficientoscillatorproduced27 W of acousticpow-
er from 600 W of heat.

expansionensues,and this expansionmay be madeto do Theoretical thermoacousticsbegan in 1868, when

mechanicalwork.If thephasesof theforcesthusoperative Kirchhoff 17calculated acoustic attenuation in a duct due to
be favourable,a vibration may be maintained.... For the oscillatoryheat transfer betweenthe solid isothermal duct
sakeof simplicity,a tube,hotat theclosedendandgetting wallandthegassustaining
graduallycoolertowardsthe openend, may be consid- tivatedby Taconis'experiments,madefurther progress,al-
ered.At a quarterof a periodbeforethe phaseof greatest though his final resultsdisagreedwith the experimentsby
condensation...the air is movinginwards,i.e., towardsthe ordersof magnitude.Then, about 20 yearsago,Rott and co-
closedend, and thereforeis passingfrom colderto hotter workersbegana remarkable
seriesof papers,
partsof thetube;... But in facttheadjustmentof tempera- directed toward understandingTaconis oscillations.Ulti-
ture takestime, and thusthe temperatureof the air devi- mately, Rott et al. establisheda soundtheoreticalfounda-
atesfrom that of the neighboringpartsof the tube,inclin- tion applicableto basicexperimentswith boththermoacous-
ing towardsthe temperatureof that part of the tubefrom ticprimemovers I •'25'26
whichtheair hasjust come.From thisit followsthat at the refrigerators.
We relyheavilyontheirpointof viewin
phaseof greatestcondensation heatis receivedby the air, this review.
and at the phaseof greatestrarefactionheat is givenup
from it, andthusthereis a tendencyto maintainthe vibra- I. THE SINGLE PLATE
To illustrate the basicprinciplesof thermoacousticen-
Rayleigh'squalitativeunderstandingwascorrect;but a ginesmostclearly,we will discussin this sectiona simple
accuratetheoreticaldescriptionof thesephe- examplewherethe acousticand thermodynamiceffectsare
nomenawas not achievedfor half a century, as we will see nearly distinct. We will considera fluid (either a gasor a
shortly. liquid) supportingan acousticplanestandingwave, and a
Another variant of thermoacousticprime mover is the singlesmall solidplate alignedparallelto the directionof
Taconisoscillation,9whichcanbea severenuisancein cyro- vibrationof the standingwave.We will seethat the standing
genicapparatus.Theseoscillations, oftenof extremelyhigh waveismodifiedby the presence of the plate,resultingin two
amplitude,can occurwhen a gas-filledtube reachesfrom important effects:(1) a time-averagedheat flux near the
room temperatureto cyrogenictemperatures.Taconis' surfaceof theplate,alongthedirectionof acousticvibration,
qualitativeexplan•/tionof the phenomenon wasessentially and (2) the generationor absorptionof real acousticpower
the sameasRayleigh's. ClementandGaffney lø madesys- (work) near the surfaceof the plate. Thesetwo simpleef-
tematic observationsof Taconis oscillations, and the oscilla- fects,producedby the interactionbetweensoundwaveand
tionshavebeenstudiedmore recentlyin a seriesof measure- solid boundary,are the basisof all thermoacousticengine
mentsby Yazakiandco-workers. TM phenomena.To derivethesetwo basiceffectswith as few
The historyof imposingacousticoscill. ationson a gasto distractingcomplicationsas possible,we will make many
causeheatpumpingand refrigerationeffectsis evenbriefer simplifyingassumptions in this section.Havingthusestab-
and more recent than the history of thermoacousticprime lishedbasicunderstandingof thermoacoustics, we will treat
movers.In a devicecalleda pulse-tube refrigerator,shownin more realisticallycomplicatedsituationslater in the article.
Fig. 6 (b) andto bediscussedin detailin Sec.V, Giffordand Considera solidplateof lengthAx, width II/2, and neg-

1149 J. Acoust.Soc.Am.,Vol.84, No.4, October1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacoustic

engines 1149

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inFig.7.ThelengthAxisaligned productsof complexsolutions,which arisewheneverpower
alongthe x axis,and there is an ordinary acousticstanding is computed.As an example,we considerthe time-averaged
wave directedalongx in the fluid aroundthe plate, so that electricalpowerdissipated in anelectricalimpedance
the acousticpressureis PA sin(x/Y•)cos(cot)and the acous- encing a current I(t) -- I• cos(cot-• •b•) and voltage
tic velocityis - (PA/pma)COS(X/h)sin(cot),
whereP• is V(t) = V• cos(cot-3-•bv). The instantaneouspower dissi-
the pressureamplitude at the pressureantinodesof the pated,I(t) V(t), is time dependent.The averagepowerdissi-
standingwave, cois the angularfrequencyof the wave, t is pated I(t) V(t) is givenby
time,,omisthemeandensityof thefluid,a is thesoundspeed
of the fluid, and 7•= a/co is the radian length of the wave. I(t)V(t)= 1 T
I• cos(cot
VA cos(cot
(We usethe angularfrequencyco= 2•rf, wheref is the ordi-
nary frequency,and the radianlength7•• A/2•', whereA is = -•I• V• cos(•, - •,) , (7)
the wavelengthand 7• is to be read "lambdabar," to avoid with v = 2•r/cothe periodof the oscillation.This is a familiar
factors of 2•' in subsequentexpressions.)We have defined
result.The prescriptionfor computingthis quantityin com-
the width as II/2 becausea crosssectionperpendicularto x plex notationis
II, andwewillseelater
that the heat flux alongthe plate is proportionalto II, and IV ---• Re[IV], ' (8)
the acousticpower is proportionalto the total (both sides) where Re[ ] signifiesthe real part and the tilde denotes
plate surfacearea IIAx.
complex conjugation.In this notation,
I= I.•ei•' and
We pausenow to carefullyestablishnotationthat will be
usedthroughoutthe article. We will assumethat an expan-
V-- V.•ei'•;thetime-averaged
power is
sion to first order in the acousticamplitude sufficesfor all IV = -•Re[/•] = «Re[IAe•'V•e
thermodynamicand acousticvariables(temperature,den-
• •1I• V• cos(•b•- •b•,), (9)
sity, pressure,velocity,entropy), and will adopt the usual
complexnotation for time-oscillatoryquantities;thus, for the same result as before. This is all trivial when, as in our
example,the pressurep will be written example,themagnitudesandphasesof the oscillatingquan-
titiesare given;but wheninsteadthe real and the imaginary
P = Pm-[-Pleitøt
, (6)
partsare known,Eq. (8) becomesa very powerfulcomputa-
with P l (and similarly the other small oscillatingampli- tional tool.
tudes) a function of position,and all the time dependence In this notation, then, the acousticstandingwave has
in thefactoreiø•t.
m) pressureP'--Pm-["Pleiø"tand x componentof velocity
will be real, but the small amplitudes(subscripts1) will in u = u•ei•",with
generalbe complex,reflectingtime phasingof the oscillating
Pl = P• sin(x/7•) •p• (x), (10)
We assume that all readers are familiar with the com- Ul = i(P•/pma)Cos(x/•.) =iu• (x) . (11)
plex exponentialmethod of solution of linear differential
equations,and the conventionthat the real part of this com- To avoidconfusingminussignslater, we take0 (x (A/4, so
plex solutionrepresentsthe actual, physicalsolution.Less that we definep• and u• as positivereal functionsof x. The
familiar is the propermethodof dealingwith time-averaged superscripts refersto standingwaves.

A. Oscillatory temperature
In the absenceof the plate, the soundwaveis adiabatic,
and so there is an oscillatingtemperatureT• relatedto the

= -• p• =•p•, (12)
p• •p•p pmCp
wheres is entropyper unitmass,• = - (3p/3 T)p/pmis
stant-pressureheat capacityper unit mass.All thesevari-
ablescanbefunctionsofx if, for example,themeantempera-
ture Tm dependson x. In Eq. (12), we haveuseda Maxwell
relation,andthe usualpropertiesof partial derivatives.Note
that,sinceTm•/Pm Cpispositive
andreal,T• andp• arein
z phase
it iseasy
FIG. 7.Geometry
plate show that
liesin the y = 0 plane;it hasa lengthAx alongthe directionx definedby a
thickness. tm •/Pm Cp• (y -- 1) T•/YPm, (13)

1150 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift: Thermoacoustic engines 1150

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wherey, the ratio of isobaricto isochoricspecificheats,is
5/3 for monatomicgasesand somewhatsmallerfor other

T•=•'--I p• (14)
rm •' Pm
for gases,sothat the fractionaltemperatureoscillationsare or
of the sameorder asthe fractionalpressureoscillations.For
STP air and pressureamplitudestypical of conversation, $1= (Cplrm) T1-- (i•/Pm ) P• . (18)
T• _•10--4øC,soit is notsurprising
ef- SubstitutingEqs. ( 17) and ( 18) into Eq. (16) yieldsa differ-
fectsare unnoticedin everydaylife. ential equationfor the unknownfunction T• (y),
We now introducethe plate, asshownin Fig. 7, into the
standingwaveand beginour thermoacousticcalculationsby icopmc•or,
-- K•= icorm•p, --pmC•o
17Tmu• (19)
first findingthe temperatureT = T,• + Tieirøtof the fluid dy2 '
near the plate. We will seethat the plate modifiesthe origi- in termsof the givenquantitiesp•,u•, and •T•, to be solved
nal, unperturbedtemperatureoscillationsof Eq. (12), in subjectto the boundaryconditionT• (0) = 0 imposedby the
both magnitudeand phase,for fluid about a thermal pene- plate and the boundaryconditionthat T• ( • ) be finite. The
solution is
tration depth •5K= x/2tc/co
away from the plate, where
tc= K/p,•% is the fluid'sthermaldiffusivity
andK is its
thermal conductivity.The thermal penetrationdepth is,
roughly,the distancethat heat can diffusethroughthe fluid
\ pm C• co T•(T,•
l•p• 17
u• (1 -- e (20)

during a time 1/co.In air at 1000Hz, •SK= 0.1 mm. The terms in this equationare easilyinterpreted.The
fluid far from the plate, y>>•5•,makes negligiblethermal
To make rapid progress,we needseveralassumptions.
contactwith the plate;in that case,
We assumethat a steady state exists.We assumethat the
plate is short enough (Ax • X) and far enoughfrom both r•-- ( rm l•/pmq )Pl -- (vrm/co)u• . (2•)
velocityandpressurenodesthatp• and u• canbe considered The first term here is simply due to the adiabaticcompres-
uniform over the entire plate. We assumethe fluid haszero sionsand expansions of the fluid, asin Eq. (12). The second
viscosity,so that u• doesnot depend0n y. We assumethat term comesfrom the mean-temperaturegradientin the flu-
the plate hasa large enoughheat capacityper unit area that id; as the fluid oscillatesalongx with displacementampli-
its temperaturedoesnot changeappreciablyat the acoustic tudeu•/co,thetemperatureat a givenpointin spaceoscillates
frequency.We neglecttemperaturedependenceof the ther- by an amount17T• u•/co evenif the temperatureof a given
mophysicalpropertiesof the fluid andplate.We assumethat pieceoffiuid remainsconstant.The actual temperatureos-
the plate has a given mean-temperaturegradientin the x cillationsarejust a linear superpositionof thesetwo effects.
directionI7Tin, and neglectthe plate'sthermal conductivity SettingEq. (21 ) equalto zero,we notethat thereis a critical
in the x direction.We also neglectthe fluid's thermal con- mean-temperaturegradient
ductivityalongx. This lastassumptionmay seemextremely
artificial in light of the importanceof the fluid's nonzero 17Tcrit= r m•cop•/pmCpU• (22)
thermal conductivityin the y direction,but it is essentially
equivalentto the easilysatisfiedcondition•5•,• X, thoughthe [the notation (17T•)crit, though more precise,is too awk-
proofof thisis too difficultto presentin this section.Consis- ward] for which the temperatureoscillationsat a point are
tent with these assumptions,we also take the mean fluid zero. For this temperaturegradient,the fluid propertiesand
temperature Tm(x) to be independentof y and to be the standing wave geometryconspireso that the temperature
sameas that of the plate. changes due to the pressureoscillationscancelthosedue to
To calculatethe oscillatingfluid temperatureT•, we be- the displacement oscillations.
ginwiththegeneralequationof heattransfer 28 The critical temperature gradientis important because,
aswe will seelater, it isthe boundarybetweenthe heatpump
and prime mover functionsof thermoacousticengines,and
pT • + v.17s =17.(K17T) 17r m• 17rcrit for efficientengineperformance.At this point,
+ (terms quadraticin velocities) ( 15) it is instructiveto further manipulateEq. (22) to displaythe
(where v is the velocity), which showsthat the entropyat a order of magnitudeof the critical temperaturegradient.
point changesin time due to convectiveflow of entropy, Equations(10) and ( 11) showthatp•/u• =pro a tan(x/X).
conductionof heat, and.generationof entropyby quadratic Thegeneralization
of Eq. ( 13) to anarbitraryfluidis29
terms (e.g., viscosity).Keepingonly first-orderterms,and y-- 1= Tmi• 2a2/c•. (23)
neglectingthermal conductionalongx, Eq. (15) becomes Substituting
boththeseresultsinto Eq. (22) yieldssimply

p,•T,• icos•+ u•
•X )
= K•
2 '
(16) 17Tcrit
(-•). (24)
For gases(and also for usefulliquids), (y- 1)/T,• l• is
To expresss in termsofp and T, we write near 1, and for reasonableplate positionsin the standing

1151 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift: Thermoacoustic engines 1151

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wave,1 < tan(x/h) < 10.ThusV Tcrit,•, Tm/•. It will be use-
ful tokeepthisorderofmagnitude in mindlater,asanengine
whoselengthisa substantialfractionof h canbeexpected to
spana substantialfractionof the absolutetemperature.
Returningnow to the full expression
for T•: The y-de-
partofEq.(20), 1-- e- (•+oy/,•,,,
real and imaginarypartsare plottedin Fig. 8. It approaches
1 for y))6• and zerofor y•6•, wherethe plateimposesthe
conditionT• = 0. Most importantly,for y_•6•, its magni-
tude is still of the orderof 1, but it hasa substantialimagi-
nary part.

B. Heat flux, work flux, and efficiency
This phaseshift in the oscillatingtemperatureof the
standingwaveat about y =t S,`,dueto the thermalpresence
of the plate,is an importantresultbecauseit leadsdirectlyto
the time-averagedheatflux in the x direction,which we now
compute.Sincewe are neglectingordinarythermalconduc- z

tivity in thex direction,the only way heatcanbetransported FIG. 9. The arrowsrepresentthe hydrodynamicheat-fluxdensity62alongx
alongx isby the hydrodynamictransportof entropy,carried nearthe surfaceof the plate.The heat-fluxdensityis largestat abouta dis-
by the os½illatoryvelocityu•: tance6Kfrom the surfaceof the plate.The shadedareaisequalto I-I6K,and
is approximatelythe effectivecross-sectional
area for heatflux alongx.
02 = T,, p,, s•u• . (25)
We havegiventhe heatflux per unit area•2 the subscript2 as
a reminderthat it is a second-order
quantity,the productof
two first-orderquantities.Using Eq. (18) to expresss• in UsingEq. (20) for T1 in Eq. (27) and performingthe inte-
termsof T• andp•, and usingEq. (8) to evaluatethe time- grationyield
averageproduct,we obtain
•2: -12PrnCp
Re[Tlg•] -- -•T,,fire[ p•g•]. (26)
The secondterm iszerobecausep•andu• are•r/2 out of time
phasefor a standingwave, i.e., p• = --ip] u] is purely u• 6,, Im
w 1+i
imaginary.Only Im[ T•] contributesto the first term be-
causeu• = iu] is purelyimaginary,sothat = -- III•,` T,./•p• ul (F -- 1), (29)
•2 = -•p,,CpIm[Tl]U• . (27) where F = V T,,/VT•,.•t is the ratio of actual temperature
gradientto the critical gradientdefinedin Eq. (22). Let us
We seethat •2 is a functionof y; its y dependenceisthe same
examinethisexpression briefly.The heatflux isproportional
as that of Im[ Tl], shownin Fig. 8. In Fig. 9, we showthis
to the area II6•, as is reasonablereferring to Fig. 9. It is
heat-fluxdensityschematically.It is largestat a distance6•
proportionalto T,•/3 ( = 1 for idealgases).It isproportion-
from the plate,and fallsto zeroboth at the platesurfaceand
al to the productp• u•, and so equalszero if the plate is at
at infinity.
either a pressurenode or a velocitynode of the standing
theplate,inthex direction,
valueofp•u• isP •/2p•a, andoccurs
is foundby integrating•2 over the y-z plane:
halfway betweenthe nodes.Finally, the heat flux is propor-
tional to the temperature gradient factor F- 1. When
=n ay. (28) V Tm = V T•it, F- 1 = 0, so there is no heat flux. For
•7Tm). •7Tcrit, 1-'-- 1 > 0 andthe heatflux is towardthe pres-
surenode, while for V Tm < V T•rit, F- 1 < 0 and the heat
flux is away from the pressurenode. If suitableheat ex-
• ' changersat temperaturesTn and Tc areinstalledat theends
of the plate (with Tu -- Tc = t7T•nAx), this heat flux car-

i Real
part riesheat from one exchangerto the other.
This heat flux is small under ordinary circumstances.
For example,for valuestypical of ordinary conversationin

•rt• [ • ,

STP air, Q2/II-• 10-lOW/cm. However,in closedresona-

0 I 2 3 4 5
torsit is simpleto achievesoundamplitudesmanyordersof
Y/5• magnitudehigherthanthoseof ordinaryconversation.Since
toP•, andsince
FIG. 8. The real and imaginaryparts,and magnitude,of T•(y). ginesthe entire crosssectionof the standingwave is filled

1152 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift: Thermoacoustic engines 1152

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with plates (spaced roughly 26K apart), very high heat (a)
fluxesare easilyachieved.
We turn now from the heat flux to the work flux, i.e., the
acousticpower. We recall from thermodynamicsthat the
work dw doneby a differentialvolumeof fluid dx dy dz asit
expandsfrom dx dy dz to dx dy dz q- dV is p dV = - (p/
p)dx dy dz dp, andsothe powerper unit volumeis

tb= dw = p dp ß
(30) p
dx dy dz dt p dt
In the presentcaseof oscillatorymotion,we are interestedin
the time averagewith

P = Pmq-P•eiø't (31)

dp _ •P t-u •p= loop,
+ u,••x . (32)
dt •t •x

The secondterm in Eq. (32) is the usualchangefrom La-

grangianto Euleriancoordinatesin fluid mechanics; i.e., Eq.
(30) is true in the referenceframeof the movingfluid, while
we want to calculateeverythingin the moreconvenientlabo-
Pm p
ratory rest frame.
SubstitutingEqs. (31 ) and (32) into Eq. (30) yields FIG. 10. Pressureand density, as functionsof time, in various circum-
four terms.Sincepl = 0, Ul = 0, and p•u• = 0, we are left stances.(a) About a thermalpenetrationdepthfrom the plate,andfor large
with enoughtemperaturegradient,the fluid expandsat high pressureand con-
tractsat low pressure,and hencedoesnet work. (b) About 6K from the
lb2 = -- ( CO
/pm ) iplpl (33) plate,and for small (or zero) V Tin, the fluid contractsat high pressureand
expandsat low pressure,and henceabsorbswork. (c) Either far from the
for the averageacousticpower producedper unit volume. plateor closeto the plate,pressureand densityoscillationsare in phase,so
no net work is done.
The subscript2 is again a reminder that this work is a sec-
ond-order quantity, the product of two first-order quanti-
To evaluateEq. (33), we mustexpress
P l in termsof T•
andPl: = - IIAxfo
W2 ©-•-

=I2 nAx (/90,
u• 6• Im
co 1+i

Pl, T (35) = -- 1ii6,•AxT0,[
•(p• 32c0
)2(1"-- 1). (37)
sothat Eq. (33) will havetwo terms.The secondterm iszero 4 p0,Cp
/p•p•= «Re[ilp•l2] - 0, so
The acousticpoweris proportionalto the volumeII6• Ax of
lb2= co/3ip•T• = -- «co/3p•
Im [ T, ]. (36) fluid that is about a thermal penetrationdepth from the
Just as in the heat-fluxdensity,Eq. (27), only Im[ T•] as plate.It is proportional
to (p•)2, andsois quadraticin the
shownin Fig. 8 contributesto the acousticpowerproduced acousticamplitude (as was the heat flux) and vanishesat
(or absorbed)per unit volume. The fluid about a thermal pressure
to (F - 1), the
penetrationdepth away from the plate "breathes,"because sametemperature
in Q2.When
of thermal expansionand contraction,with the right time •7T0, = •7Tcrit, (l"- 1) = 0, and there are no temperature
phasewith respectto oscillatingpressureto do (or absorb) oscillationsin the fluid, and no acoustic power. For
net work. This is exactly the samefluid (shown shadedin V T0, > V Tcrit, F- 1 > 0 and acoustic power is produced
Fig. 9) that we have seenis responsiblefor the heat flux. nearthe plate.Whetherthispowerincreases
the amplitude
Fluid elsewhereis ineffectivein doing (or absorbing)work: of the standingwave, is radiatedaway to infinity, is simply
The densityoscillationsfor y>>6Kandfor y,•6• arein phase absorbed,or flows through an acoustic-to-electrictrans-
with the pressureoscillations,and hencedo (or absorb) no ducer to generateelectricpower dependson detailsof the
net work.This is shownschematicallyin Fig. 10. resonator,not on the plateitselfor on the standingwavenear
byinte- the plate.For V TO,< V Tcrit, r • - 1 < 0 and acousticpoweris
grating•2 over all space,usingEq. (20) for T•: absorbednear the plate. Here, V Tm = 0 is a specialcaseof

1153 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift: Thermoacousticengines 1153

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such power absorptionthat is treated in many standard sureoscillations.But the additionof a stationaryplatewhose
texts.3øIn that situation,the acousticpowerab- functionis simplyto imposea temporallyisothermalbound-
sorbedby a surfaceper unit area is [usingEq. (23) ] ary condition on the fluid changesthis dramatically. The
thermalinteractionof the wavewith the platestimulates( 1)
, II Ax 4
- 1)Pp•2
(38) a heat flux along the plate, about a thermal penetration
depthawayfrom theplate,and (2) the generationor absorp-
The thermal boundary-layerlossdescribedby Eq. (38) and tion of acousticpower (work) by the fluid near the plate.
viscousshearat the boundaryare the two dominantdissipa- Thesetwo effectsconstitutea heat engine;whether it is a
tion mechanisms for sound in small enclosures, as we will heat pump or a prime mover is determinedby the plate's
discuss further in Sec. III. temperaturegradient.
We have now calculatedheat and acousticpower ex-
pressionsfor a singleplate in a standingwave. This simple C. Lagrangian point of view
deviceis a heatengine.For smallenoughtemperaturegradi-
Sofar in this section,we haveadoptedthe usual(Euler-
ents,F -- 1 < 0, and the heatflux givenby Eq. (29) is in the
ian) point of view of fluid mechanics,focusingattentionon
positivex direction,up the temperaturegradientfrom cold
what happensat a givenpoint in spaceasthe fluid movesby.
to hot. Equation (37) showsthat the acousticpoweris then
Someadditionalinsightcanbe gainedby brieflyconsidering
negative,sothat work is absorbedto causethe "uphill" heat
an alternative(Lagrangian)pointof view,wherewefollowa
flux. This is exactlythe situationfor a heat pump, as in Fig.
givenparcelof fluid asit moves.Figure 11displaysthecycles
1. Similarly, for large enough temperature gradients,
of an acousticengineservingas prime mover and as heat
F- 1 > 0, and the signsof both heat and acousticpower
reverse, so that heat flows from hot to cold and acoustic pump, following a typical parcel of fluid as it oscillates
alongsidethe plate.In a real acousticengine,the oscillations
poweris produced;the deviceis a prime mover,asshownin
are sinusoidal;but for simplicity,we considerhere square-
Fig. 1.
wave,or articulated,motionsothat the basicthermodynam-
We now calculatethe efficiencyof the single-plateen-
ic cyclecan be picturedasconsistingof two reversibleadia-
•7= W/On.Forour
baticstepsand two irreversibleconstant-pressure steps.The

short plate, Q• is essentially constant with x, so

cycleis identicalto theBraytoncycle.3•
•, = Oc= •2. Thenr/is justtheratioof Eqs.(37) and
(29)' An important factor in the operationof traditionalheat
enginesis phasing:Pistonsor valveshaveto movewith cor-
•7= Axflcop•
/p,• csu• . ( 39) rectrelativetimingfor the workingmediumto be transport-
Noticing that this expressionresemblesEq. (22) that de- ed throughthe desiredthermodynamiccycle.The thermo-
, we can write acousticenginecontainsno obviousmovingpartsto perform
thesefunctions,yet the acousticstimulationof heat flux and
•7TcritAX VT,, Ax AT r/c
r/ ....... , (40) the generation(or absorption) of acousticwork point to
T• FT• FT• r sometype of timed phasingof thermodynamicprocesses,
where•c is Carnot'se•ciency, the maximumpossiblee•- here achievedin someremarkablysimpleway. The key to
ciencyof an engineat T• spanningAT= VT• Ax, with phasingin acousticenginesis the presenceof two thermody-
A T• T•. It is remarkableto arrive at sucha simpleresult namicmedia:fluid andplate.As the fluidoscillatesalongthe
after somuch labor. The e•ciency of the single-plateprime plate at the acousticfrequency,it experienceschangesin
mover is lessthan Carnot's e•ciency by the simple factor temperature.Part of the temperaturechangescomesfrom
1/F. This illustratesthe fundamentalconflictbetweenpow- adiabatic compressionand expansionof the fluid by the
er and e•ciency that is commonto many practicalheat en- soundpressureand the rest is a consequence of the local
gines.Here, it is only in the limit F -- 1• 0, wherethe power temperatureof the plate itself. The heat flow betweenfluid
outputof the deviceapproaches zero,that the ideal,Carnot and plate doesnot produceinstantaneous changesin fluid
e•ciency is achieved;for nonzero power, the e•ciency is temperature.Instead,the heat flow betweenthe two media
necessarilylessthan Carnot's. createsa time delay, or time phasing,betweentemperature
We can make a similar calculationfor the heat-pump and pressureand motion,which is neededto drive the fluid
modeof operation,wherethe relevante•ciency is the coe•- througha thermodynamiccycle.Thusa simplebut irrevers-
COP= •a/•a. Usingthesame
meth- ible process•heat flow acrossa temperaturedifference•is
od as in the last paragraph,we and intrinsicto theoperationofthermoacousticengines.In other
words,rather poor thermal contactis necessaryto achieve
COP- F COPc ß (41)
the proper phasingof the temperatureoscillationsof the
Since F< 1 in the heat-pumpmode, we seeagain that the workingfluid. For sinusoidalmotion,theseargumentsapply
efficiencyis lessthan Carnot's;and, again,we seethat Car- to theparcelsabouta thermalpenetration
not's efficiencyis approachedas F -- 1-•0, i.e., as the heat plate. Parcelsfarther away haveno thermal contactand are
pumpedby the engineapproacheszero. simplycompressedand expandedadiabaticallyand reversi-
We pausenow to summarizewhat we havelearned.An bly by the soundwave.However,parcelsthat are at abouta
ordinary acousticstandingwaveis accompaniedby no par- thermal penetrationdepth from a plate have goodenough
ticularly interestingthermodynamicphenomena---onlythe thermalcontactto exchangesomeheatwith the platebut, at
adiabatictemperatureoscillationsthat accompanythe pres- the sametime, are in poorenoughcontactto producea time

1154 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacousticengines 1154

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(a) Heat Pump: SmallV Tm (b) Prime Mover: LargeV Tm

(1) Tm- x.•

%7Tm Tm+x1%7
Tm (1) Tm
m Tm+X
m •
'i ;//////////////////////////////////7
Gas Parcel
dW" • ---'3
2xI 2x I
i I
L, __ .,I

Tm- x.•%7
Tm Tm-x.•%7
Tm+ 2T• Tm-x•%7T
m Tm-x1%7
Tm+ 2T•
Pro-P• Pm+P• Pm-P• Pm+P•

(2) Tin+
Tm (2) Tm+

F- -•l dW
L_L:_J L__
FIG. 11. Typical fluid parcelsin (a) a
Tm-x1VTm+2T•-> Tm+ x•VTm Tm-x.•%7
Tin+2T• --) Tm+ x1%7
Tm thermoacoustic heatpumpand (b) a ther-
Pm+ P• Pm+ P• moacousticprime mover, experiencinga
four-stepcyclewith two adiabats(steps1
and 3) and two constant-pressure heat
transfers(steps2 and 4). Whetherthe en-
(3) Tm-XlVT
m Tm+x•VTm (3) Tm- x• V Tm Tm+x• VTm gineis a heat pump or prime mover is de-
terminedby the signof the parcel-to-plate
temperaturedifference2 Ti -- 2x• V Tm at
the beginningof steps2 and 4, whichis in
turn determinedby the sizeof I7T,• rela-

i • I .,x,i....I -2x•I•
I__ ._/
I tive to T•/x•.

Tm+ x•%7
Tm- 2T1 Tin+
Pro-P• Pm+P• Tm+ x•VTm-2T• Tm+ x•VTm
Pro-P• Pm+P•

(4) Tm-x•VTm (4) Tm-x•VTm

IJ. _ _ J.I
Tin+x•V Tm-2T•-> Tm- x•%7
Tm Tin+x•VTm-2T•-• Tm- x•VTm
Pm'P• Pro-P•

delaybetweenmotion and heat transfer. heat flowsin the oppositedirectionfrom plate to fluid. If
Relativephasingof motion (steps1 and 3 in Fig. 11) heatflowsintothe parcelin step2 andoutof it in step4, the
and heat transfer (steps2 and 4) determineswhether the parcelexperiences
at highpressure
acousticengineis a primemoveror a heatpump.The signof contractionat low pressure,and hence does net work
the relativephasing,andthusthe modeof the acousticheat d W- d W'. If the heatflowsarereversed,the parcelexpands
engine,is determinedby the magnitudeof the temperature at low pressureand contractsat high pressure,so work
gradientalongthe plate.During the compressional part of dW- dW' is done on it. Both heat and work fluxes can thus
the acousticstandingwave, the parcel of fluid is both be reversedand the engineswitchedbetweenfunctionsby
warmedanddisplacedalongthe plate.As a result,two tem- alteringthe sizeof the temperaturegradient.A zero or low
peraturesare importantto that parcel:the temperatureof gradientis the conditionfor a heatpump;a high gradientis
the fluid after adiabaticcompressionalwarming and the the conditionfor a prime mover.Accordingto Eq. (22), at
temperatureof the part of the platenextto the fluid parcel the critical temperature gradient, V Tm -- •7Tcrit
aftercompression (anddisplacement).If thetemperatureof =Tm •cop]/pmCpU];there,
the fluid is higherthan that of the plate,heat will flow from the plate2 V Tm u]/co that the parcelseesjust matchesthe
the fluid to the plate.If the temperatureof the fluid is lower, parcel'stemperaturechangedue to adiabaticcompression

1155 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G. W. Swift: Thermoacousticengines 1155

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andno heatflowsbetweenthe parceland will, however,include viscosity,longitudinalthermal con-
the plate. ductivity,finite (insteadof infinite) plateheatcapacity,and
Usually the displacementof a given parcel of fluid is a plurality of plates.
smallwith respectto the lengthof the plate.Thus therewill We could,at this point, build eachof theseeffectsinto
be an entire train of adjacentfluid parcels,eachconfinedin the model of Sec. I one at a time. Instead, to save labor, we
its cyclicmotionto a shortregionof length2x• _•2u•/co and proceednow to introducethe most generaltheory of ther-
eachreachingthe sameextremepositionasthat occupiedby moacousticenginesthat we know. We only outlinethe deri-
an adjacentparcelhalf a cycleearlier.During the firstpart of vation here;the detailsare givenin the Appendix.The re-
the cyclefor the heat-pumpmode,theindividualparcelswill sultsof thisgeneraltheoryarecomplicatedandopaque(and
eachmove a distance2x• toward the pressureantinodeand are mostusefulfor accuratenumericalcalculations,which
depositan amount of heat dQ at that positionon the plate. are alsodiscussedin the Appendix). To build our intuitive
During the secondhalf of the cycle,eachparcelmovesback understanding,in this sectionwe then immediatelymake a
to its startingpositionand picksup the sameamountof heat fewapproximations(suchasshortstacklength) that greatly
dQ from the plate. But this heat wasdepositedtherea half- simplifythe results,sothat we canmakesomecontactagain
cycle earlier by an adjacent parcel of fluid.' In effect, an with Sec. I.
amountof heatdQ is merelypassedalongthe plate from one The derivationgivenin detail in the Appendixproceeds
parcel of fluid to the next in the directionof the pressure as follows.Considera parallel-plategeometryas shownin
antinode.Thus the plateis usedonly for the temporarystor- Fig. 12, with the x axisalongthe directionof acousticvibra-
ageof heat. An individualparcelof fluid transportsheatdQ tion and the y axisperpendicularto the planesof the parallel
acrossonly a smalltemperatureintervalalongthe platethat plates.The plateshavethicknesses 2l and spacings2yo.We
is comparableto the localtemperaturechangeT•. However, write down the equationof motion for the fluid
becausethereare manyparcelsin series,dQ is shuttleddown
the plate, thereby traversing the temperature interval p +(v.V)v - -Vp+ttV2v+ •+ I7(I7.v),
TH -- Tc, which can be much larger than T•.
If, on the other hand, we examinethis train of gaspar-
celswith respectto the flow of work, we realize that each with the boundaryconditionv = 0 at the fluid-plate inter-
parcelhasa net effect.For example,a parcelof gasnear the face,and the continuityequationfor the fluid,
platein an engineoperatingin the heat-pumpmodeabsorbs
net work becauseits expansionis at a lowerpressurethan the c•p
+ V.(pv)--O, (43)
correspondingcompression.But sincethe sameis true for
every parcelin the train, the total work done on the gasis wherep is density,v is velocity,p is pressure,
tt is viscosity,
and • is secondviscosity.We requirethe fiuid'sisobaricspe-
proportionalto plate length.
/3, its ratio of isobaricto isochoricspecificheats7/, and its
soundspeeda, so that we can usethe relations
In Sec.I, we consideredthe simplestpossibleexampleof
a thermoacousticengine,a singleshort plate in an acoustic
ds= (cp/T) dT-- (/3/p) dp, (44)
standingwave. By making a very large numberof simplify- dp= -- p/5'dT + (T'/a2) dp, (45)
ing assumptions,we arrived at the centralthermoacoustic- where Tis temperatureands is entropyper unit mass.Final-
engineeffectswithout too many distractingcomplications. ly, we write down equationsfor heat flow in the fluid and
The centraleffectsare: ( 1) The thermal boundarycondition solid
imposedon the fluid by the plate causesa phaseshift (in
time) of the oscillatingtemperaturein the fluid abouta ther-
mal penetrationdepth away from the plate. (2) Therefore,
heatflowshydrodynamically,parallelto the platein the flu-
id about a thermal penetrationdepth away from the plate,
and (3) acousticpoweris absorbedor producedby the fluid
abouta thermal penetrationdepthaway from the plate. (4) X•
Whether the heat flowsup or down the temperaturegradi-
ent, and whetherpoweris absorbedor produced,dependson Stack
the magnitudeof the mean-temperaturegradientrelativeto (b) FIG. 12. Geometry used for
a critical temperaturegradient. Fluid multiplate enginecalculations.
In this section,we will developa more realisticmodel (a) Overall view, and (b) ex-
for thermoacousticengines.The resultsof thissectionwill be I Solid panded view. Each plate has
thickness21,andeachfluid lay-
developedfurther as they are applied in Sec. IV to three Fluid
er hasthickness2yo.
thermoacousticenginesthat have been built. In order to

spanned lSolid
Fluid y'
Y •x
keepthe resultsof this sectionintuitivelyunderstandable, we
thatthetemperature • x 2Yo
is much less than the absolutetemperatureand that the
lengthof the platesis much shorterthan a wavelength.We I Solid

1156 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift: Thermoacoustic engines 1156

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fluidandsolid,and•Sv= x/2v/(0is thefluid'sviscous
)= I7.(K17T)4-(terms
pT • 4-v.Vs quadratic
in tration depth (roughly, the distancethat sheardiffusesin a
velocity), (46) time 1/(0), with v = t•/Pm the kinematicviscosity.Also, H
is,asbefore,thetotalperimeterof platein contactwith fluid
OTs in a givencrosssectionparallelto the y-z plane;in other
psCs = KsV2Ts, (47)
•t words,H Ax is the total surfaceareaof plate-fluidcontact,
whereK isthermalconductivityandthe subscripts refersto Hyois thetotalfluidcrosssection,andHI is thetotalplate
cross section.
the solid, and use the boundary conditions T= T• and
K •T/•y = Ks •T•/•y at the fluid-solid interface.We then
linearizetheseequations,assumingthat all variablesoscil- A. Zero viscosity
late at angularfrequency(0: We will not yet try to directlyinterprettheseformida-
P =Pm 4-Pl (X) eiø't
, (48) ble-lookingresults.Instead,wequicklymakethreeassump-
tions, to simplify the equationsenoughto seewhat they
P = Prn(X) 4-Pl (X,y)eiø't, (49) mean.

v = 5:Ul(X,y)e i'øt+ PVl(X,y)ei"'t, (50) First, we assume zeroviscosity.(This is nota goodap-

T= Tm(x) 4- Tl(X, y)e i•'t, (51) proximationin manyrealisticsituations,but wewill put vis-
cosityback into the problemin Sec.IIB.) Thus cr= 0 and
Ts = T,, (x) 4- Ts•(x, y)e i'øt, (52)
s =Sm(X) + S•(X,y)e i"'t. (53) Second,wemakethe "boundary-layer" approximation:
In theAppendix,wemanipulatethe resultingequations We assumethat yo>>•5• and l>>•Ss.
In makingthisapproxi-
(by integratingwith respectto y) into the form of a wave mation, our goal is simplyto set the hyperbolictangents
equalto unity.In Fig. 13,weplotrealandimaginarypartsof
equationforp•(x) in termsof dTm/dx andmaterialproper-
tanh[ ( 1 4- i) yo/•5•]. Notethatat Yo= 2•5•thefunctionis

tiesand geometry,and an equationfor energyflux H2 (in-

alreadywithin a few percentof unity. We will seelater that
cludingboth heat and work) alongx in terms of Pl (x),
Tm(x), materialproperties,and geometry.The waveequa-
practicalenginesusuallyhave•5••<Yo•<2•5• (and similarly
tion is for l and•s ), sotheboundary-layerapproximation isactual-
ly rather goodevenin realisticsituations.
Third, we make the "short-stack"approximation.We
l +es ' Pl-[ (02 dx Prn assumethat thestackissho• enoughthat it doesnot perturb
the standingwaveappreciably,sowe cantake

(02 (l-a)(1
f• -f•+es) dT•dp•
dx dx
_ O,
_ ( 54) p• = P• sin(x/X)•p• (60)

and the equationfor energyflux is Ul =i(1 4- l/Yo)(Pa/pma)Cos(x/X)=iu • . (61)

Theseare the sameexpressions aswe usedin Sec.I, except
2(0pm Pl(1--•,-- (Tm•(f•:--•')
[-•XX )(1+ )]
1+es for the extrafactor( 1 + l/Yo) in u1.This factorappearsbe-
causethe fluid's volumetricvelocityis the sameinsideand
nyoc atto dp• outsidethe stack,sothe velocityin the stackis higherthan
') dx dx dx that outsideby the cross-sectional area ratio ( Yo+ l)/yo.
We alsoassumethat, for purposesof integrationalongx, the

(1 + es)(1
stackis short enoughthat pl and ul may be regardedas
independent of x within the stack, and' that
AT = Tn -- Tc • Tin, so thermophysical propertiescan be
- n(yoK + lKs)•, (55) assumedindependentof Tm and hencealsoindependentof
With thesethreeassumptions,
cr- cplu/K- v/•' (56)
is the fluid's Prandtl number,
tanh[(1 + i) yo/tS•,
f• = , (57)
( 1 + i) yo/tS•,

f• = tanh
(1 + i) yo/tS,,
] (58)

PmCprS,,tanh[ ( 1 + i) yo/tSK]
*" 0
0 I
• 2

es = . (59)
tanh[ ( 1 + i) l/tSs]
Here, tSKandtSsare the thermalpenetrationdepthsin the FIG. 13.Therealandimaginary
partsof tanh[( 1 4- i)yo/6K].

1157 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G. W. Swift:Thermoacousticengines 1157

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dpl on the efficiencyof thermoacoustic engines,soit isbestif the
x components K andKs in the secondterm of Eq. (64) areas
from Eq. (A3), Eqs. (54)-(59) simplifyto small as possible.Yet nonzero thermal conductivitiesin the
y directionare essentialfor the engine'soperation.The y
02 dlldpl
2 dx •
componentof the fluid'sthermalconductivityappearsin tS•
in the firstterm ofEq. ( 64); if it werezero,therewouldbeno
(y-- boundary-layer thermoacoustic effectsat all. The y compo-
(F -- 1)p•, (63) nentof theplate'sthermalconductivityappearsin tSsin esso
(1 +i)(1 +e•)yo
that if the plate had no thermal conductivityalong y, no
1 Tmfi plateheatcapacitywouldbe accessible, the platecouldim-
4 1 poseno thermalboundaryconditionon the fluid,andagain
therewouldbenothermoacoustics effects.Thusanisotropic
-- II( yoK + lKs) • , (64) conductors,
withKx < Ky andKsx< Ks.v,
We canalsousethe expression for energyfluxto discov-
and er what qualitiesof a working fluid result in high power
densityfor thermoacoustic engines.To get an estimateof
es= tomC•6,c/psCs6s
, (65) powerperunitvolume,
webeginwithEq.(64) forH2asan
estimateof the engine'spower,and divideby the approxi-
whereF = I7Tm/I7TcritandI7Tcrit---Tmfi(.Dp'•
•rn Cp
U•,just mate volume of the engine (including resonator)
asin Sec.I. Theseexpressions
aresimpleenoughthat we can
V = II6,, ( 1 + l/Yo) (A/4). Setting F - 1--•1 and
easily make contact with the resultsof Sec.I.
p• u• • P • ( 1 + l/Yo)/2pro
a fromEqs.(60) and(61), and
We beginwith the expressionfor the energyflux, Eq.
neglectinglongitudinalthermal conductance,we obtain
(64). Noticing that IIy o is the total cross-sectional
area of
fluid in the y-z plane, and similarly that IIl is the cross- H2 f T•fi P• f T•fi
sectionalarea of solid,we seethat the secondterm in Eq. .... tOm
a2M2, (66)
V 2 1 +es tom a2 2 1 +es
(64) isjust the ordinary conductionof heat down the tem-
perature gradient by fluid and solid. The first term is the whereM = Pn/tom
a2isa kindofMachnumber,
platein the degreeof nonlinearbehavior(beyondthe scopeof this
Sec. I, Eq. (29), exceptfor the factor 1/( 1 + es) that we review)to beexpected.The powerdensityisproportionalto
discuss in the nextparagraph.The heatfluxandtotal energy f, because higherfrequencyleadsto shorterwavelength and
flux are essentiallyequal in the short-stackapproximation
ß hence a smaller resonator. It is proportional to
because W2 is relatively small: W2/Q2 Tmi•/( 1 + es), so the most basic requirementthat the
= AT/TIn F,• 1, becausewe assumedA T,• Tm. As before, working fluid must satisfyis that it have a large thermal
weseethat thehydrodynamicheatfluxisdownthetempera- expansioncoefficient.Gases(Tm/3 = 1), and liquidsnear
ture gradient for sufficientlylarge temperaturegradient their criticalpoints( Tm/3---1), havethe largestexpansion
(i.e., F -- 1 > 0), and up the temperaturegradientfor small coefficients.
gradient.This heat flux is proportionalto the area II6•, so Aboveall, because
it appearsquadratically,theacoustic
that if yo=6•, essentiallythe entire cross-sectionalarea of pressure
amplitudePAor Mach numberM shouldbeaslarge
fluidin thestackii effective
in carrying
heat. as possible. The amplitude-dependent factor
The propertiesof the platematerialappearin the factor P •/toma2= tom
a2M2 in Eq. (66) represents
the compres-
the factthat the plate sionalenergyper unit volumestoredin the fluid.For gases,
maynot havesufficientheatcapacityto successfully impose PA is likely to be limited to M=0.1 by nonlineareffects,so
the boundaryconditionTl = 0 on the fluid. In the bound- thattom
a2= 7/Pro
ary-layerapproximation,theplatehasheatcapacityperunit incompressible
Pma2>)Pro,andP• islikelytobelim-
areap•c•6• availableto interactthermallywith the plate- ited by the strengthof the resonator(and by cavitationat
fluid interface.If this availableheat capacityis large com- P.4=Pm) longbefore
M becomes
paredto the corresponding fluid heatcapacityper unit area assmallaspossible.In both cases,high meanpressures and
Pm%6,,,thenT1= 0 istheboundary
onthefluid, high acousticpressuresare desirable.
asweassumed in Sec.I. Butifp•c•6• isnotlargecomparedto Thermoacoustic enginesarecapableof veryhighpower
pm%6,,,Tl at theboundary is nonzero. The temperature densities,accordingto Eq. (66). For example,a gasengine
changeexperienced by a thermalpenetrationdepthof fluid with f= 1000Hz, Pm= 10 bar, and M = 0.1 hasa power
asit relaxesto a penetrationdepthof plateistherebyreduced densityof 8 W/cm3;a liquid-sodium engineat thesamefre-
by a factor 1/( 1 q-e•); consequently,the hydrodynamic quencywithP• = 200barhasa powerdensityof 4 W/cm3.
heat flux is reducedby the samefactor. For comparison, a typical (100 hp, 1 ft3) automobileen-
Throughout this review, we assumethat the thermal gine'spowerdensityis 3 W/cm 3.
conductivitiesof the fluid and plate are isotropic;what if The waveequation,Eq. (63), isreadilymodifiedto give
they are not? The secondterm in Eq. (64), the ordinary an expressionfor acousticpowersimilarto Eq. (37) of Sec.
conductionof heat down the temperaturegradient,comes I. We beginby noticingthat, in the geometryof Fig. 12(a),
from the x components of the fluid and plate thermalcon- net acousticpower cannotescape(nor flow in) in the y
ductivities.This heatconductionhasa whollynegativeeffect direction.Thus the acousticpower generatedor absorbed

1158 J. Acoust.Soc. Am.,Vol. 84, No. 4, October1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacoustic

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mustshowup as a differencein averageacousticintensity considerable algebraiccomplication,and a little conceptual
p•u• betweenthe two endsof the stack: difficultyas now u• is a functionof y.
As usual, we assumestanding-wavephasingbetween
( plUl)left
] pressureand velocity,sothat pressurep• = p• canbe taken
d asreal, and the meanx velocity
= Ily0Ax• (PlUl)
, (67)
proportionalto the total volumeIIyo Ax of fluid in the stack <u,)---1 Yo Jo
u, dy = i<u• ) (72)
region.We noticethat, if the left-handsideof Eq. (63) is ispurely
equatedto zero,theresultingexpression isthe familiar,ener- in termsof (u•) and (u•), whichwe obtainby integrating
gy-conservingacousticwaveequation,sothat the unfamiliar Eq. (A4) with respectto y. The resultis
right-handsidemustrepresenta source( or sink) of acoustic
power.With thisclueasmotivation,wemanipulateEq. (67)
asfollows,usingEq. (62):
= _ iCOpm
= COpm
(u•) ß
clx -œ
Note that dpl/dX is complex,eventhough(u{) is real.
2 = dxd (pitt,)
IIy o Ax
Re d•• dp
•] As before, we take
F = VTm/VTcrit (74)
Ul•l]ß and

VTcrit= Tm•(Dp•OmCp
<U•). (75)
The secondtermin bracketsispurelyimaginary,soit canbe These definitions are somewhat a matter of convenient fa-
dropped: miliarity, as the conceptof a criticaltemperaturegradient
becomes hazyin thepresence of viscosity.Without viscosity,
1 iiyøAxRePldxI ' (69) •7Tcritisthetemperaturegradientfor whichthetemperature
oscillationsat a givenx locationare zerofor all y. But in the
AgainusingEq. (62) for dp•/dx, we rewritethe waveequa-
tion presence of viscosity,Ti dependson y in sucha complicated
fashionthat no naturaldefinitionof •7Tcritexists.
Substituting theseexpressions intothe energyfluxequa-
ax• p•2
i(o[(l q-(y-l)6,,
i)( l q-es) yo
(F-- 1)p• --p•
] (70)
tion, Eq. (55), and into the wave equation,Eq. (54), and
then makingthe boundary-layerapproximation(6• <Yo,
and substitutethis into Eq. (69) to find simply
6,,"•Yo,6s< l) sothatall hyperbolic tangentscanbesetequal
= 1 ii$K
Ax (y- 1)co (p•)2(F
-- 1), (71) to unity, we obtain
4 pma2(1 + es)
the sameresult as Sec.I, Eq. (37), exceptfor the factor •2= 1n6• rm•p• 2 2
1/( 1 + es) that we discussedabove. 4 (1 + e•)(1 +a)(1--$•/yo+$•/2yo)
We pauseto summarizethe resultsof the last several
paragraphs.In the boundary-layerapproximation(which is X F -- l+•--
goodevenin many realisticsituations),for a short ( Ax < X )
stackof plates,and neglectingviscosity,the heat flux and
acousticpower are givenby expressions very similar to the - II( yoK + IK• )• (76)
simpleresultsof Sec.I. Thus a practicalenginecan be ex-
pectedto usea workingfluidwith a largethermalexpansion
coefficient and to have all available cross-sectional area filled
with platesspacedfrom to apart. The only effectof
longitudinal(i.e., alongx) thermalconductivityis to add to
pløt -
2 d.(1-f,•
•X''pm dpl)
the heat flux in the x directionby simpleconduction.This
reducesthe engine'sefficiency.The finite specificheat and
transversethermal conductivityof the plate material de-
(1q-i)(1 (,(1q-x/-•)(1--fv)
7FT[)yo F -,).
creaseboth the hydrodynamicheat flux and the acoustic
powerby the samefactor, 1/( 1 + es); in the absenceof lon- When cr= 0, thesereducesimplyto Eqs. (63) and (64)
gitudinal thermal conductivity, this would leave the effi-
ciencyunchanged. As before, we calculate the work flux in the short-stack

B. Arbitrary viscosity W2
1 Re(
<i' )).' (78)

We nowproceedwith a similarderivation,but including

nonzeroviscosity.The derivationparallelswhat we havejust weobtaind ( • •)/dx in thefirsttermfromthewaveequation
completedin this section.The inclusionof viscosityadds by noticingthat the secondterm in Eq. (77) is

1159 J. Acoust.Soc. Am.,Vol. 84, No. 4, October1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacoustic

engines 1159

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In the single-plate
of Sec.I, Qe- 0 and
02 dx Pm • 02 dx We= owhenVTm= VTcrit ßWhendissipative
such as viscosityand longitudinalthermal conductionare
and we obtain dt:,,/dx in the secondterm from Eq. (73). included,the conceptof critical temperaturegradientbe-
Substitutingthoseexpressions into Eq. (78), we eventually comesmorecomplicated.
Let uscall (VT) crit
n thetempera-
forwhichHe•--' 0, and(VT)crit
w thatforwhich
W2=0. We seefrom Eqs. (76) and (80) that, for
4 pma2(1 +•s) dTm/dx> (VT) w We> 0 andJ-/e
crit, > 0, sotheengineis a
primemover;and for dTm/dx< (VT)u W2< 0 and crit,

2 2
He< 0,sotheengine
isaheatpump. Inbetween, for(VT)u crit

_ (1 +•)(1 --a•/yo < dTm/dx < (VT) crit

w (which couldbe a substantialrange,if
eitherviscosityor longitudinalthermalconductionis large),
- • H6• Ax 2 2
. (80)
the engineis in a uselessstate,absorbingwork, absorbing
4 1 -- 6•/Yo + 6•/2yo heat at Tn, and rejectingheat at Tc. Another critical tem-
When a = 0, this reducessimplyto Eq. (71 ) above. peraturegradientcould be definedby includingresonator ß

Thus we seethat the inclusionof nonzeroviscosityadds dissipation(discussedin Sec.III) in We.We chosearbitrar-

considerable complication toH: andW:in theshort-stack, ily to retainyet a fourth temperaturegradient,Eq. (75), as
boundary-layerapproximations.Theseresultsare usefulfor the definitionof V Tcritin this section,for algebraicsimpli-
numericalcomputations,but are too complicatedfor much city.
intuitive appreciation.To retain the essentialeffectsof vis- In this section,we havedevelopedapproximateexpres-
cosity without all the tediousdetails, we will discussthese sionsfor the energyflux andacousticpowerofthermoacous-
results onlytolowestorderin viscosity, namelytoorder•. tic enginesin realisticsituations.In additionto the assump-
We alsoassumeYo=6•, which is the casefor most realistic tions that the platesare rigid and stationaryand that the
applications, sothat6•/yo=•. With theseassumptions, acousticsis linear,we haveonly madethe "boundary-layer"
Eqs. (76) and (80) reduceto and "short-stack"approximations.It turns out that the
boundary-layerapproximation,yo>•6K,is not especiallyre-
strictive.It lets us set varioushyperbolictangentsequal to
4 •1 + es)(1-•) unity, and fortuitouslythe errorsintroducedby doingsoare
only of the order of 10% for realisticenginegeometries
- n(y•+ tKs)•, where Yoand 6Kare nearlyequal.The short-stackapproxi-
dx mation, Ax,• X and A T,• Tin, is also not too restrictive.In
our (admittedly limited) experience,Eqs. (76) and (80)
• 1)co(p•
): (F-l) predictthe performance of realistic"long" acousticengines
to within about a factor of 2. So, for accurate calculations,
the resultspresentedin the Appendix mustbe used;but for
- •,ns•,ax Opr•(U•)•. (82)
roughestimates,the resultsof this sectionare goodapproxi-
With viscosityappearingonly oncein eachexpression,these mations,and are much simplerto computewith.
are now simple enoughto interpret. [However, Eqs. (81 ) In addition, the resultsof this sectionare fairly easyto
and (82) are quantitativelyinaccurateexceptfor fluidswith interpret intuitively. The expressions for arbitrary viscosity
extremely low Prandtl numbers.] The lowest-ordereffectof are complicated,but thoseto lowestorder in viscosity,Eqs.
viscosityon the acousticpower,the secondterm in Eq. (82), (81 ) and (82), are simple.There, it is easyto "see"Sec.I's
is easyto understand.It is simply the power dissipatedby expressions for heatflux and acousticpowerabouta thermal
viscous shear in the fluid in the boundary layer, a well- penetrationdepth from the plates,modifiedaslongitudinal
known fluid-mechanical
3• Thus viscosityabsorbs thermal conductanceadds to the heat flux, as viscousshear
acousticpower, having a deleteriouseffecton the efficiency dissipatesacousticpower,and as nonidealplate properties
of thermoacousticengines.In this respect,the bestworking modify the thermal boundaryconditionat the fluid-plate
fluids are those with low Prandtl number: liquid metals interface. It is also easy to understandthat the engine's
(tr-•0.01), superfluid
3He-4Hemixtures(tr-•0.1), andbi- workingfluid shouldhavea largethermal expansioncoeffi-
nary monatomicgasmixtures (tr-• 0.3). cient and a small Prandtl number.
To lowestorderin x/-•,Eq. (81) shows thatthehydro-
dynamicheatfluxis increasedby 1/( 1 --x/-•). Thisfactor III. OTHER COMPONENTS OF THERMOACOUSTIC
arisesbecausethe meanvelocity(u•) underestimates the
velocitywith which entropyis convectedalongthe stack.As In the last two sections,we have focused our attention
we saw in Sec. I, the convectiveentropy transport occurs on the heart of the thermoacousticengine:the stack,where
mostly at distance6• from the plate. The velocity there is the presenceof a standingwave stimulatesa time-averaged
higherthanthemeanvelocityby 1/( 1 --x/tr). Thisfactor convectiveheatflux eitherup or downthe temperaturegra-
also decreasesthe efficiencyof thermoacousticprime mov- dient, accompaniedby the absorptionor productionof
ers, but tends to increase the COP of thermoacoustic heat acousticpower.In this section,we will introducethe other,
pumps. auxiliarycomponents neededto makecompleteacousticen-

1160 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacousticengines 1160

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gines:heat exchangers,resonators,and transducers.As agedheatflow, eventhoughit is significantlyhotterat (c')
thesecomponents are familiarfrom otherapplications of thanat (c). Hence,thereisnocompensating heatflowfrom
thermodynamics andacoustics,wewill bebrief,tryingonly (c) to match the heat dQ removedby (b') from the heat
to illuminatefeatures
thatareespeciallyrelevantor peculiar exchanger at TH. In thissimplepicture,heatdQ is extracted
to theirusein acousticengines. Theseremarkswill befurther fromthereservoir at Ta by (b'), passedondowntheplatein
illustratedby the examplesof Sec.IV. successive cyclesby successive parcels,andthenrejectedto
the reservoirat Tc by (d).
We can understandfrom thesesimpleargumentsthat
theheatexchanger shouldhavea lengthof aboutthe peak-
A. Heat exchangers
to-peakdisplacement amplitude2u•/co.In Fig. 15(a), we
Heatexchangers arerequiredin thermoacoustic engines showa heat exchangerthat is longerthan 2u•/co.In that
to supplyand extract heat at the endsof the stack.Recall the case,thereare someparcelsof fluid that contactonly the
Lagrangianpictureof the acousticallystimulatedheattrans- heatexchanger, at bothextremesof their positions, sothat
port alongeachplatein thestack,presented at theendof Sec. theyperformno usefulfunction.Their presence is purely
I. Figure 14 showsone plate, cross-hatched, with heat ex- dissipative, by virtueof bothviscousandthermalprocesses
changers at eachendconsisting of cavitieslabeledTH and (aswill bediscussed in subsectionB below,regardingreso-
Tc. Flowingheat-exchange fluids,heatpipes,or perfectheat nator losses).On the other hand, in Fig. 15(b) we showa
conductorskeeptheseheatexchangers isothermal.We show heatexchanger that is shorterthan 2u•/co,sothat thereare
five parcelsof fluid near the plate, and their extremesof parcelsthat "jump" from the plateto well pastthe heatex-
position.Thus (a) and (a') represent, respectively, themax- changer,andnevercontactthe heatexchanger at all. Such
imumexpanded andmaximumcompressed positions of par- parcels,and their bucket-brigade "partners"extendingin
cel (a), and similarly for (b) and (b'), (c) and (c'), (d) and seriesalongtheplate,areineffective in carryingheat(except
(d'), and (e) and (e'). Then the cyclefor the typical"mid- insofaras they transferheat longitudinallyby diffusionto
plate"parcel( a) consists of a rapidmotion( 1-• 2 ) from (a) parcelsthat areproperlylinkedto theheatexchangers). The
to (a') with no heat flowing,a wait (2-• 3 ) at (a') for ther- properlength,2u•/co,for a heatexchangeris impreciseby
mal equilibriumwith the plate,a rapid motion (3-• 4) from roughly•SK, asthat is the distanceoverwhichheatcandiffuse
(a') to (a) with no heatflowing,followedby a wait (4-• 1) longitudinallypastthe endsof the heatexchanger.
againfor thermalequilibrium.As wesawin Sec.I, oneresult It is alsodesirablethat as little dissipationof acoustic
of thiscycleis a time-averaged hydrodynamic transportof poweraspossible shouldoccuron the heatexchanger sur-
heatalongthedirectionof acousticoscillation.For clarityin faces.Theselosses,due to viscosityand thermal conductiv-
Fig. 14,we havedrawn nonoverlapping parcels,but in fact ity, shouldbe roughlyproportionalto the heatexchanger
we imaginethat (a') and (b), or (d') and (a), occupythe surfacearea,and hencesomelossis unavoidable. Applica-
samelocations.Then it is easyto seethat, at midplateloca- tion of the equationspresentedin the next subsectionfor
tions,the time-averaged heattransferfrom fluid to plateis surfacedissipation of acoustic powerto theseheatexchanger
zero;forinstance,theheatdQ deliveredto theplateby (a) is surfacesis questionable, as thoseresultsare valid only for
removedfrom the platea half-cyclelater by (d'). fully developed laminaroscillatoryflowandwill not apply
Now, let uslookcloselyat what happensat the endsof near an abruptchangein surfacesuchas occursat the non-
the platenearthe heatexchangers. Consider, for example, plateendof the heatexchanger. Nevertheless, theequations
parcel (c), which makes thermal contact to the heat ex- probablygivetherightorderof magnitude of acoustic power
changerat point (c) of itscyclebut isout of thermalcontact dissipationin the heat exchangers, sufficientlyaccuratefor
at location(c'). After compression ( 1-• 2 ), theparcelishot- mostdesigncalculationsasin mostcasesthis is a smallfrac-
ter at (c') thanit wasat (c), by the peak-to-peak adiabatic tion of the engine'stotal powerdissipation.
temperatureoscillation2T• givenby Eq. (12), but it hasno The idealheatexchanger, with perfectthermalconduc-
meansat (c') to thermallyrelax.Nothinghappens to it dur- tance,no acousticpowerdissipation,and a lengthof 2ul/co,
ing the waitingperiod(2 -• 3), soon decompression ( 3 -• 4) is impossible. Fortunately,reasonable compromises work
it comesbackat (c) to the sametemperaturethat it had at quitewell, asshownby the enginesdescribedin Sec.IV and
( 1). Parcel(c) just idles,not contributingto anytime-aver- the Introduction.

4 3
e' d d' a I a' b b' c 1,4 c'

FIG. 14.A setofoscillating

abouta thermalpenetration
withheatexchangers atitsends.The
oftheheatflowsdQ havebeenchosen forprime-moveroperation.
Forclarity,wehavedrawntheplatelengthonlya fewpeak-to-peakoscillation
amplitudeslong;usuallytheplateismuchlonger,sothata longchainof parcels
actsin series,
heatalongtheplatelikea bucketbrigade.

1161 J. Acoust.Soc.Am.,Vol.84, No.4, October1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacoustic

engines 1161

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I 4 2 3
FIG. 15.Heate•changers
In (a) the heat exchangeris too long,sothat the
parcelof fluid shownmerelyshuttlesheat from
one part of the heat exchangerto another,ab-
sorbingwork. In (b) the heat exchangeris too
(b) short,sothat the chainof parcelsshownhasno
source of heat.

B. Resonators as in Eqs. (10) and ( 11).

A resonatoris necessaryto contain the stack and heat In Eqs. (83) and (84), we have alreadyimplicitly as-
exchangersof,a thermoacousticengine,sincestanding-wave sumedQ>• 1. The Q of a resonance(acousticor otherwise)
time phasingofp• and u• is needed.The resonatorshould may be measuredor computedin severalways. If a reso-
have a high quality factor Q, to minimize the dissipationof nanceis excitedand then allowedto freelydecay,the oscilla-
acousticpowerinto heat. We will illustratethis in great de- tion decaysaccordingto
tail with the half-wavelengthplane-waveresonator (and, e - •"/2• ei,O,, ( 85)
later, briefly mention someother resonatorsalsowell suited
sothat in Q cyclestheoscillationamplitudedropsby a factor
for acousticengines).Considera cylinder,as shownin Fig.
e- •. Alternately,
16, with a length (alongx) of L, a radiusR, and filledwith a
fluid of densityPm and soundspeeda. The fluid oscillates Q= roEst/P, (86)
longitudinallyat frequencyto, at the lowestresonancefre- where
andP isthe
quencyof the resonator,sothat L = A/2. The resonanceis averagerateof energydissipation.
A third viewpointis that
maintained by either a thermoacousticprime mover or a Q is a measureof the sharpnessin frequencyof a driven
transducer,not shown in the figure. We take x = 0 in the resonance.
center of the resonator, so that Fig. 16,we will useEq. (86), sowe will needexpressions
Pl = PA sin(x/X) --p• (x) , (83) WstandP. Botharesecond
u• = i(PA/pma)Cos(x/•) •iu • (x) , (84)
e= :•[( p• )2//9ma2 (lt,•)2
] q-llOm (87)
overthe volumeof the resonator.The firstterm in the energy
densityis the compressiveenergystoredper unit volume,
and the secondterm is obviouslythe kinetic energyper unit
I•X volume.SubstitutingEqs. (83) and (84) into Eq. (87) and
-L/2 L/2

integratingover the volumeof the resonatoreasilyyield

P} 2L
a2rrR . (88)
Bulk soundattenuationand parasiticlossessuchasme-
chanical hysteresisand radiation outsidethe resonatorare
generallynegligiblein acousticengines;hence,mostof the

time-averagedenergydissipationE arisesfrom viscousand

thermal effects at the resonator walls. Surface viscous and
,.. Pma
thermal attenuationof soundis thoroughlydiscussed
in ad-
E vancedtexts,but the treatmentin introductorytexts33is
brief, and not easilyappliedto our problemhere.Hence,we
beginwith our Eq. (80) for the time-averagedacousticpow-
FIG. 16. A plane-waveresonatorof length L = A/2 and radiusR. The er absorbedby a stack!Dividing Eq. (80) by thesurfacearea
means to drive the acoustic oscillation is not shown. of the stackII Ax, andtaking Yo>>6• and F = 0 asappropri-

1162 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift: Thermoacousticengines 1162

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ate for the resonator,we obtainan expressionfor k, the dissi- TH Tc

pationper unit of surfacearea of the resonator:

k....41 (P•)28,
' l+e
s 09
1 (U,
q-"•-Pm , (89)
as obtainedin advancedtexts34 (exceptfor es, which is
usuallyneglected).The expressionis readily interpretedin
terms of the acousticenergy density,Eq. (87). Equation
(89) showsthat, within the appropriatepenetrationdepths FIG. 17.A thermoacoustic enginein a resonator.The cross-hatchedregion
8Kand By, the compressiveand kinetic energydensitiesare representsall fluid within a penetrationdepth of someplate in the stack;
suchfluidisusefulin performingtheengine'sfunction.The speckledregion
dissipatedessentiallyeverycycleof the wave.The meanki- representsall fluid within a penetrationdepth of the resonatorwalls;such
p,• (ul)2/4 timestheviscous fluidiscompletelydissipative. The restof thefluid,unshaded,storesenergy,
penetrationdepth8• is the kineticenergyin the fluid within and determinesthe frequencyof the acousticresonance.
a penetrationdepthof the surface,per unit areaof resonator
surface;thisenergyis dissipatedby viscousshearin the fluid
at a rate w. Similarly, the compressive energydensityin the
fluid-near the wall is dissipatedby thermal relaxation be- IF - 11sin2(x/X) (92)
tween fluid and wall; the extra factor (•/-- 1)/( 1 q- es) ap- 2rrRL +R/L + 4-d/2(r--
pears in the compressive-energy dissipationterm because
that dissipationis proportionalto the differencebetweenthe WewantIW211•>• 1.Weseethat,neglecting
adiabaticand isothermalcompressibilities, which is propor- factors
of2, IVl/k isjusttheratiooftwoareas,
tionalto (•/- 1), modifiedby the availablesurfaceheatca- surfacearea of plate II Ax and the resonatorsurfacearea
pacity throughEs.The power thus lost from the acoustic 2rcRL.Thus resonatorlossesare negligibleto the extentthat
resonanceappearsasheat,at the temperatureof the resona- the dissipativesurfaceareaof the resonatoris negligiblerela-
tive to the productivesurfacearea of the stack,or, alterna-
• fortheplane-wave
res- tively, to the extent that the dissipativevolume2rcRLS,,of
onator, we integrateEq. (89) over the surfacearea of the the resonatoris negligiblerelativeto the productivevolume
resonator,using Eqs. (83) and (84) for p• and ul. The II Ax 6K_•rrR2 Ax of the stack,asshownin Fig. 17.Even
result is thoughthis conclusionis not quantitativelyaccurate,it is a
usefulintuitive guidefor reducingresonatorlosses.For ex-
R increases
I proportionately,
4 p,•a
8,, q-es the dissipative
volumeisproportionalto R whilethe produc-
(The 2R/L term comesfrom t-heend capsof the resonator, tivevolumeisproportional toR 2.Asa secondexample,con-
eachofarearrR2.Sincep]-• 0 andu• = 0 there,theendcaps siderthebeneficialeffectof increasing
Pmby increasingpro,
experienceonly compressive energylosses,proportionalto while keepingAx, R, and L constant.Increasingp,• de-
8•.) Finally, we can calculatethe Q usingEqs. (86), (88), creases
6• by1/x/-p,
• , thereby
and (90): ume,whiletheproductive
volumercR2 •c staysconstant
-- =
8• t
8• (y-- 1) t
28• (y-- 1) . (91) plate spacingcomparableto 38• ).
Q R R (l+es) L (lq-es) Thus it is conceptuallyusefulto divideup the volumeof
a thermoacousticengine'sresonatorinto three portions,as
The Q is of the order of the resonatorradiusdividedby the shownin Fig. 17.Fluidwithina penetration
depthof a plate
thermal or viscouspenetrationdepth.The simplicityof this isproductive.Fluid within a penetrationdepthof the resona-
resultis dueto the fact that gst is proportionalto the volume
tor surfaceis dissipative.The rest of the fluid is reactive,
rcR2L of theresonator,
whileE ismoreor lessproportional simplystoringenergyand determiningthe frequencyof the
to the volume8(2rcRL) within a penetrationdepth (either acousticresonance.Although we havedevelopedthesecon-
thermal or viscous) of the surfaceof the resonator.Thus Q, ceptswith referenceto the cylindricalplane-waveresonator,
to gst/P,isproportional
to theratioof these they apply to other resonatorsas well. Thesequantitiescan
two volumes, R/8. - be calculatedaccuratelyby simpleintegrationof Eqs. (87)
As a further guideto intuition aboutthe importanceof and (89). The Q of an acousticresonanceisroughlythe ratio
high Q for thermoacousticengines,we introducea short of reactiveto dissipativevolumes;and whena thermoacous-
stackintothe2./2 plane-waveresonator,asshownin Fig. 17. ticengine
intoa resonator,
(We do not yet show an acousticpower transducerin the tive to dissipativevolumes(roughly equal to I W21/E)
resonator;seebelow.) Whether this thermoacousticengine shouldbe large.
is a prime moveror a heatpump,we want the stackacoustic As an exampleof two otherwaysto decreaseresonator
I tobemuch
than• toensure
thatanegligi- losses,
35shownin Fig. 18(c),
blefractionof the acousticpowerisdissipatedby the resona-
ß o
consistingof two tubesand a sphereconnectedin series.To
tor. If we useEq. (37) for W2and Eq. (90) for E [ and using the extentthat the spherevolumein Fig. 18(b) can be con-
Eqs. (23) and (83), and settinges = 0 ], then sideredinfinite, the acousticpressureand velocityin it are

1163 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift: Thermoacousticengines 1163

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(a) (a)

• Z/2


(c) (b) R

Tc •. TH• TH• Tc

FIG. 18. Three resonatorshavingthe sameresonancefrequencyand the

samestackgeometry. The resonatorlosses
of (b) areabouthalfthoseof the
cylindricalplanewaveresonatorshownin (a); and the lossesof (c), the
Hofler resonator, are even lower. I • r
o R


zero and so there are no surfacelossesin the sphere.The

fluid within a penetrationdepth of the sphere'ssurfacedoes
not contributeto the dissipativevolume. Hence, the total
surfacelossof the resonatorshownin Fig. 18(b) is half that
of the simpleplane-waveresonatorof Fig. 18(a). The evolu- FIG. 19. A radiallybreathingthermoacoustic engine,conceptuallysimilar
tion of the resonatorfrom Fig. 18(b) to Fig. 18(c) reduces to the plane-waveengineof Fig. 16,but with spatialdependences givenby
surfacelossevenmore. This is not intuitively obvious;but a Besselfunctionsof r insteadof trigonometricfunctionsof x. A stack is
35basedon Eq. (89) showsthat,for modestde- shownin the resonator;heatexchangers areomittedfor clarity. (a) overall
view;(b) centralcrosssection;and (c) spatialdependences ofp• and u•.
creasesin the length and diameter of the tube joining the
stackhousingto the sphere,the decreasein surfacearea re-
ducesE faster than the accompanyingincreasein acoustic
•. TheHoflerresonator
willbediscussed gyfluxH2isidentical
toEq.(55), withx replaced
byr andof
further in Sec. IV. course with II = II (r).
As a final exampleof an acousticresonatorappropriate
for usewith thermoacousticengines,we considerthe cylin- C. Transducers
drical radial-waveresonator,as shownin Fig. 19. The fluid
in the resonator oscillates in its fundamental radial "breath-
The two thermoacousticenginespresentedasexamples
in the Introduction worked without transducers;but in most
ing" mode,sothat u• isdirectedalongr andis a functionof r.
situationswhereheat enginesare used,acousticpoweris an
Thus, with no stack,the spatialdependences of p• and u• are
inconvenientform of work, and a power transduceris re-
givenby Besselfunctionsof r insteadof trigonometricfunc-
quired to convert acousticpower into someother form of
tionsof x; p• and u • are still re/2 out of time phase.The stack
work, or vice versa. In Fig. 20, we show schematicallya
of platesfor suchan enginelookslike a well-spacedstackof
thermoacousticenginewith transducer.If the engineis a
circularwashers.All the short-engineresultsof the previous
heatpump,acousticpoweris suppliedto the resonatorby
two sectionsare still applicable,with trigonometricfunc- the transducer, to maintain the acoustic resonanceand to
tionsreplacedby Besselfunctions,andall the remarksdevel-
pump heat from one end of the stackto the other. Alterna-
opedin this sectionaboutproductive,dissipative,and reac-
tively, if the engineis a prime mover,the transducerextracts
tive volumes also apply. At the level of detail of the
acousticpower from the resonator,convertingit into some
Appendix,the full waveequationin the stackregionis
desiredform suchas electricalpower. Preferablythe trans-
ducer is simple,reliable, and efficient,so that the inherent
1+ e• p,.a
to2r p.• dp•)
. p•+
virtuesof thermoacousticenginesare not compromised.
An importantquality of a high-Q resonanceis that the
-/3• a2 f• -f• dTm
dp,-_ O, (93) transducerdriving it canbe locatedalmostanywherein the
(02 (1-tr)(1 +e•) dr dr resonator. (We will frame our discussionhere in terms of a
which differs only slightly, in the secondterm, from the heat pump; equivalentargumentscan be made for a prime
plane-wavewaveequation,Eq. (54). The equationfor ener- mover.) For example,in the limit of high Q, the apparatus

1164 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift: Thermoacousticengines 1164

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(a) encemust not perturb the pressurethat would be at its sur-
Tc TH faceif it wererigid. Similarly,the engineof Fig. 20(c) will be
o o resonant at L = A/2 only if its transducer is "ultracom-
c 3 pliant": As a soundreceiver,its presencemust not alter the
c :3
c 3 standingwave, and as a soundsource,its velocitymust de-
L =X,/2
pend only on the standingwave, not on propertiesof the
transduceritself. In Fig. 20(d), we showan enginewith a
(b) Tc TH transducerthat is neithernoncompliantnor ultracompliant.
c o -i- The transducerhasmovingmasscomparableto the massof
c o

o o X of fluid in the resonator,so that the engine'sresonance

c o
o o frequencyis determinedby propertiesof both the resonator
fluid and the transducer.Suchan arrangementcouldbe used
to make an acousticengineshorterthan A/4.
(c) Tc TH Hunt 36has listed mechanisms for electroacoustic trans-
c 3
strictive,and piezoelectric.We must add to this list sirens,
whistles,and pistonson crankshafts,which might also be
usefulfor thermoacoustic engines.The focusof development
of electroacoustictransducershas been on linear, passive,
(d) reversibledevices,becausemost speakersand microphones
areusedin circumstances requiringhighfidelity.Suchtrans-
ducersobeyequationsof the form
V• = Z E/1 -Jr-TU1, (94)
p• - _+ TI1 + Z •r U1, (95)
FIG. 20. Schematics of completethermoacoustic engines,eachwith a reso- where V1isthe oscillatingvoltageacrossthe electricaltermi-
nator, transducer(with oscillatingvoltage V• and current I•), stack of nals of the transducer,I1 is the current passingthrough
plates,andhot andcoldheatexchangers. The transducereithersuppliesor
extractsacousticpower,dependingon whetherthe engineis a heatpumpor
them,andp• and U1arethe pressureand volumetricvelocity
a primemover.(a) and (b) areacoustically equivalentandusea noncom- at the surfaceof the transducer.The three remainingcom-
plianttransducer;( c) usesan ultracomplianttransducer;(d) usesa moving plex, frequency-dependent constantsin Eqs. (94) and (95)
witha coilofwire. completelycharacterizea transducer'selectroacousticbe-
havior. Here, Ze is calledthe blockedelectricalimpedance,
Z•t is called the internal mechanicalimpedance,and T is
calledthe transductioncoefficient,sinceit coupleselectrical
shownin Fig. 20(b) is equivalentto that of Fig. 20(a). This
and acousticalquantitiesin the two equations.Linear, pas-
is true becausethe standing-waveparts of P l and ul are
sive, reversible transducersalmost always have the same
roughly Q times larger than the traveling-waveparts sup-
transductioncoefficientT in both equations;such trans-
pliedby thetransducerto maintaintheresonance, sothat the
ducersare saidto be reciprocal.
heat pumpingeffectsin the stackand the dissipativeeffects
Sincemostelectroacoustic transducerdevelopmenthas
at the resonatorwalls are determined (to order I/Q) by the
beenmotivatedby concernfor high fidelity, comparatively
standingwaveonly. But althoughthe enginesof Fig. 20(a)
little effort has been directed toward making transducers
and (b) are acousticallyequivalent,they are not thermally
efficientin transformingpowerfrom oneform to the other.
equivalent.For instance,if the engineis a refrigerator,it is
Fortunately,a well-developed
preferableto have the room-temperaturetransduceradja- ertheless exists, and much of the mathematics we have used
cent to the room-temperatureend of the stack, as in Fig.
in this reviewis applicable.For example,supposethe trans-
ducer describedby Eqs. (94) and (95) is used to convert
The best location of the transducer in a resonator does,
acousticpowerto electricpowerthat is deliveredto an elec-
however,dependon the impedanceof the transduceritself.
tric load resistorRe. Then, V1= --IiR œ= ZEI 1 + TU 1
The transducerof Fig. 20(a) must be a high-impedance
givesthe ratio of U1to I1 in termsof Re, T, and Ze, and we
(largeforce,smalldisplacement)transducer,becauseit is at
can computethe efficiency•/as the ratio of electricpower
a point of high acousticimpedance(large pressure,small
-- Re[V•]l]/2 toacoustic
velocity) in the standingwave. A low-impedance(small
the transducerRe[ P l U1]/2. The resultis
force, large displacement)transduceris best located at a
point of low acousticimpedancein the standingwave,asin r/-l= Re[ -T-(1 + Z•r/R•)T/T]
Fig. 20(c). We will seeexamplesof each type in the next
section.In fact, the engineof Fig. 20(a) will be resonantat + RLI( 1 + Z•r/RL ReZ•t, (96)
L = A/2 onlyif itstransducer'simpedanceissohighthat it is so that if Re Z•t, Re Ze, and Im T are all zero, then the
effectively"noncompliant":As a soundsource,its displace- transduceris 100% efficient.Here, Re Z•t is usually asso-
ment must be the same whether it is in vacuum or in contact ciated with mechanicalfriction in the moving parts of the
with the acousticmedium, and as a soundreceiverits pres- transducer,Re Ze with electrical resistance(e.g., 8 1• for

1165 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift: Thermoacoustic engines 1165

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commonelectrodynamicloudspeakers),and Im T with dis- how we crudely and quickly designedthe demo usingthe
sipativeprocesses tied to the transductionmechanismitself short-engineapproximations.Our goal was to estimatedi-
(e.g., hysteresislossesin magnetostrictive and piezoelectric mensionsfor a propane-fireddemo as shownin Fig. 2 that
transducers).Theseare the quantitiesthat shouldbe mini- would be asloud aspossiblewithout beingtoo largeor diffi-
mized in transducersusedwith thermoacousticengines. cult to build, usingair, stainless-steel
Finally, we briefly discussnonlinear electroacoustic exchangers. The only ingredientnot alreadypresentedin the
transducers. There is a well-known class of nonlinear acous- previous
tic drivers
38in whicha forceor pressure is exertedby the the openend of a small-diameterA/4 resonator,
magneticinteractionof anelectriccurrentwith itself,sothat •rad• (Ir/8)(p•a4/pma•2), (97)
the pressureis proportionalto the squareof the current.
Thus, if the transduceris driven with an oscillatorycurrent wherePA is the pressureamplitudeat the closedendof the
resonator and R is the radius of the resonator.
at frequencyto,soundat frequency2cois generated.Sucha
devicecanbe madeusingan iron-coreinductorwith air gap, We beganby equatingsourcesand sinksof acoustic
asshownin Fig. 21. Driversof thisclass,beingnonlinear,are power:

not usefulfor hi-fi or instrumentationapplications,but they W2• •rad-• •res•- •hx ß (98)
are usefulin high-powerapplications,especiallyat fixedfre- Here,W2istheacousticpower produced
quencysothat the movingmassm (which maybequitelarge short-engine
comparedto the movingmassof a conventionalelectrody- acoustic
namic loudspeaker)can be "resonatedaway" by a suitable absorbedby the resonatorwalls,obtainedby integratingEq.
spring. (89) over2/4 ofsidewall;and• istheacoustic
What we discussed in the last paragraphis well known. absorbedby viscouseffectsin the heat exchangers, obtained
What is not well known is that the inverse effect, the nonlin-
by integratingthe viscousterm in Eq. (89) overthe surface
ear generationof electricpowerby acousticvibration,canbe areaof the heatexchangers.[ We will not write out Eq. (98)
achievedin the sameapparatus.This isan exampleof a para- or subsequent equationsin full, as they are very long and
metricallydrivenoscillator, 39andis completely analogous opaque.] This designwas intendedto be very approximate,
to a pendulumdrivenby varyingthe lengthof the pendulum sowetookmanyshortcuts; forexample, in•re•weassumed
at twicethe naturalfrequencyof the pendulum.In the pres- a simple 2/4 resonator at uniform temperature
ent acoustic case, a resonant seriesLC circuit is the oscilla-
(Tn + Tc )/2 insteadof calculatingthe hot and cold end
tor, and it is drivenby varyingthe inductanceL (geometri- dissipationsseparately,we neglecteddissipationat the end
cally, by acoustic vibration) at twice the resonance
cap, and we ignoredthe fact that the part of the resonator
frequencyof theLC circuit.If theengineof Fig. 21 is a prime that supportsthe temperaturegradientactually produces
mover, the transducer'selectricalterminalsare simply con- acousticpower (just like surfacearea in the stack itself)
nectedin serieswith the resonatingcapacitorand with the ratherthan dissipatingit. Eachof the four termsin Eq. (98)
electricalload. This systemhasnot beenstudiedextensively
is proportional
to P •, soit is possible
to cancelthat factor
before, becausethe inherent, overwhelmingnonlinearities
out and solvethe equationfor the temperaturedifference
make it uselessas a high-fidelitymicrophone.But this and acrossthe stack,
similarnonlinearsystemsappearcapableof highly efficient
powertransductionovera narrowbandwidth. A T = A T(geom, matprop), (99)


where "matprop" standsfor all relevant thermophysical
propertiesof thematerials(air, copper,stainless
steel)of the
A. The lecture demonstration
apparatus,and "geom" represents all geometricalfactors:
In this section,we presentthree examplesof thermoa- resonatorlengthL and radiusR, stackpositionx andlength
cousticenginesto illustratethe manyconclusions reachedso Ax, plate thickness2l and spacing2yo,and heat-exchanger
far in this review. Our first exampleis the loud lecture de- thicknesses 2lhx,spacings
2yhx,andlengthsAx•. Other geo-
monstration of the Introduction. We will briefly describe metricalfactorscan be expressed in terms of these;for in-
stance,H = •rR2/(l + Yo).We assumed
Yo= tSK.
It mightseemremarkablethat Eq. (99) showsATinde-
pendentof acousticamplitudeand of heat flux throughthe
engine.That is alsowhat measurements on thebeercooler's
11 Tc TH prime-moverstackshowin the upperplot in Fig. 4: Above
the onsetof acousticoscillation,Tn remainsconstantwhile
of our assumptions
of linearacoustics
and of all the dissipa-
in theenginesharing
thesameP • depend- .

enceasthe stackpoweroutputW2.The temperature differ-

enceremainsnear the critical valuejust neededto sustain
oscillations,and the acousticamplitudeand acoustically
FIG. 21. Nonlineartransducer,
of an iron-coreinductorwith air
gapG.Thelefthalfofthecoreandthecoilofwirearefixed;therighthalfof stimulatedheatflux aredeterminedby the rateat whichheat
the core, of mass m, is free to move. canbesuppliedto andextractedfromtheendsof theplates

1166 J. Acoust.Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacousticengines 1166

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by the heatexchangers.If A Tcould suddenlyberaisedabove ed to checkour understandingof thermoacoustics
this fixed value, PA would grow exponentiallyuntil some tively.
nonlinearphenomenon(beyond the scopeof this review)
wouldlimit theamplitude.
25 B. Thermoacoustic refrigerator
Let A Text be the external temperaturedifference,be-
The thermoacousticrefrigeratorthat was the subjectof
tweenthehot andcoldpartsof the resonator,while ATis the
temperaturedifferenceacrossthe stackitself.The tempera-
Tom Hofler'sPh.D. research
ture differenceacrosseachheat exchanger(A Text -- A T)/2 ed to be a highly controlledexper.imental testbedfor ther-
will be substantial,sinceso much heat has to flow in and out moacoustictheory. In addition,it was a major steptoward
throughthe thin heat-exchangerstrips.Next, we equatedthe
achievinga practicalthermoacousticcryocooler.Basically,
the device consistedof a gas-filledresonator,driven by a

energyfluxthroughthe stackH2, givenby Eq. (76), with the

heat flux througheither heat exchanger loudspeaker,and containinga stackof plateswith one end
thermallyanchoredat roomtemperature.Figure22 displays
H2(PA,AT, geom,matprop) someof the directlymeasuredperformanceof the refrigera-
= Kcu X (hx geom)X (A Text-- A T)/2, (100) tor; there, the cold temperatureTc (normalized by room
whereKcu isthe thermalconductivityof copper.We elimin- temperatureTH ) and COP (normalizedby Carnot'sCOP)
ated AT usingEq. (99), and solvedfor P•, areplotted
end, for variouspressureamplitudes.The lowesttempera-
P• = P• (A Text, geom, matprop), ( 101) ture reached (not shown in the figure) was Tc = 200 K,
and then substitutedthis result into Eq. (97) to finally ob- correspondingto a temperatureratio Tc/TH = 0.67. The
tain highest measured efficiency relative to Carnot's was
COP/COPc = 12%, which occurred at Tc/T• =0.82
•rad= •rad(AText
, geom,matprop)
. (102) with an appliedheat load 0elec
= 3 W. Here
COP= •elec/ gac,where
Although thisresultis algebraicallycomplex,it is conceptu- edin a resistance
heaterat Tc and Wacis themeasured
ally verysimple:The acousticpowerradiateddependsonthe acousticpowerdeliveredto the resonatorby the loudspeak-
temperaturedifferenceacrossthe engine,the geometryof er.

the engine,andthe thermophysical propertiesof the materi- The refrigeratoris shownto scalein Fig. 23. The "stack
als used. of plates"wasa longstripof 8-cm-wide,0.08-mm-thickplas-
To find suitable dimensions for the demo, we wrote a tic (Kapton) sheet,spirallywound arounda plasticrod to
trivial computerprogramthat usedEq. (102) to compute make a 3.8-cm-diam assembly8 cm long. This material was
copper and stainless-steel
in stock) until we
founda largePradforthefollowing
L = 14cm,
1.0 I I I I I I
R=1.5 cm, x=3 cm, Ax=l.5 cm, 2•=0.08 mm, (a)
2yo= 0.4 mm, 2/hx= 0.2 mm, 2Yhx= 0.3 mm, AXhx= 4
mm;forwhichf= 780Hz, AT = 240øC,and•raa= 2 W
= 400øC.Usingthevalue•raa= 2 W in Eq. ß +

(97) showsthat Pn_•0.2 bar andhence(u•)/co •_4 mm at ß


the stack,beyondthe linear acousticregimethat the entire ß + ß

analysisis basedon! Nevertheless,we built the engineto 0.8-a +

thesedimensions(exceptL = 16cm,x -- 3.5 cm, AXhx= 3

mm), knowingthat it would be loud.
The engineoscillatesat 580 Hz aboveA Text= 140øC;at
A Text= 200 øC,it is extremelyloud ( 100dB a meteraway),
radiating about 0.1 W of acousticpower. It was noticeably
louderwhenit wasnew;repeatedthermalcyclinghasruined
the uniformityof the platespacing.A spectrumanalyzerand
microphonea meter away at this power level showsecond
and third harmonics down 30 dB from the fundamental and
a fifth harmonicdown 40 dB, evidenceof nonlinearoper-
The loud demo was casuallydesigned,carelesslybuilt,
and never instrumented.It showsonly that thermoacoustic
enginesare simpleenoughto work fine undersuchcircum-
stances,and that the short engineand other similarly crude FIG. 22. Measuredperformanceof thermoacousticrefrigerator.(a) Tem-
peratureratio and (b) coefficientof performancenormalizedby Carnot's
approximationsare sufficientfor somepurposes.The next COP, versusthe electricheaterpower. In both plots,differentsymbolsrep-
two examplesin thissectionareof enginesthat werecareful- resentdifferentacousticpressures: &, PA/Pm= 0.01; d-, PA/Pm= 0.015;
ly designedusing numerical integrationsof the equations I, P•/Pm = 0.02; O, P•/Pm = 0.03. The linesin (b) are only guidesto the
derivedin theAppendix,andcarefullybuilt andinstrument- eye.

1167 J. Acoust.Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacousticengines 1167

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exchangerwere measuredusing two thermocouples,one
near the centerof the heat exchangerand oneon the resona-
tor wall nearby. Typical temperaturedefectsbetweenheat
exchangercenterandwall were2 øC.The hot heatexchanger
waskept at room temperatureby water flowingthroughtub-
ing solderedto the resonatorwall nearbyß
The resonator,containing10-barheliumgasresonantat
about500 Hz (the exactvaluedependingon Tc ), wasof the
low-losstype we calleda "Hofler resonator"in Sec.III. For
a thermoacousticrefrigerator,minimizing lossesin the cold
part of the resonatoris especiallyimportant, becausethose
losseshave two deleteriouseffects:They absorb acoustic
power, and they add an extra thermal load to the refrigera-
tor. The resonatorcompriseda large-diametersection,a
small-diametersection,and a spherein series,with a pres-
sureantinodeat the top of the large-diametersectionat the
transducer and a velocity antinode near the bottom of the
10 cm small-diametersection;thus it wasessentiallya A/4 resona-
tor. Measurementsof the Q of the emptyresonatorand of its
onEqs.(87) and
(89) to within a few percentßThe large-diametersection,
Resonator: whichcontainedthestackandhencesupportedthe tempera-
ture difference,was made of fiberglassand epoxy for
strength and thermal insulation, and was coated with an
evaporatedmetal film to block diffusionof helium out of the
resonator. Near the heat exchangers,the resonator was
made of copper to promote isothermal heat transfer. The
sphereand taperedsectionnear it weremadeof electroplat-
ed copper-nickellaminateß
The electroacoustic
4• usedto drive
the refrigerator,from the pressureantinodein the resonator,
5 cm from the hot end of the stack,was a slightlymodified
FIG. 23. Thermoacousticrefrigerator. high-fidelitymidrangeloudspeaker.The dome of the loud-
speakerwasreplacedby a thin aluminumpistonshapedlike
a truncatedconeand centeredby a flexibleepoxy-fabricsur-
round. The pistonand surroundservedto adapt the 5-cm-
thick enoughto be structurallyrobustand to havees,•.0, yet
diam voicecoil to the slightlysmallerresonatorwith enough
thin enoughto conducta negligibleamountof heatdownthe
i'igidityto withstandthe largeacousticpressuresßThis driver
temperature gradient. The spacingof 0.38 mm (roughly
coulddeliver 13 W of acousticpowerto the resonator,with
46K) betweenthe layersof plasticsheetwas maintainedby
an electric-to-acousticpower-conversionefficiencyof 20%.
well-spacedsegmentsof monofilamentnylon fishline glued
Heat generatedby the driver was carried away by room-
to the sheet,alignedalong the directionof acousticoscilla-
tion. temperaturewater flowing through tubing solderedto the ß

driver housing.The acousticpower Wacdeliveredby the

Each of the two heat exchangerswas madeof rectangu-
4• frommeasurements
with a
lar copperstripsreachingacrossthe stackendsand making
excellent thermal contact with the resonator walls near tiny accelerometerattachedto the pistonand with an acous-
tic pressuresensormountednearby,not shownin Fig. 23.
them. Copperwasusedbecauseof its high thermal conduc-
The observedrefrigeratorperformancethat was pre-
tivity. The copperstripsof the cold exchangerwere 2.5 mm
wide (in the direction of acoustic oscillations), 0.25 mm
sentedin Fig. 22 iscomparedwith theoreticalcalculationsin
Fig. 24. For directcomparison,thetotal refrigerationloadat
thick, and spaced0.5 mm apart, while thoseof the hot ex-
changerwere 6.4 mm wide, 0.25 mm thick, and spaced0.38
mm apart. The dimensionsof the two exchangerswere dif- OC•-Oelec-{-
, (103)
ferentbecausethe hot exchangerhad to conductmuchmore
had isused,
to accommodatemuch greateracousticvelocities;the resul- horizontal
axisandin theplottedCOPvalues.Here,
tant viscous losses at the cold end are a thermal load on the Qc-hx,
refrigerator.Care wastakento keepthe gapbetweenthe hot thermalconductance of the wallsof the large-diameterreso-
exchangerand stacklessthan 0.1 mm, becausethe acoustic natorsectionandof the thermalinsulationsurrounding the
displacementamplitudeu•/w there, near the velocitynode engine,viscousdissipationin the cold heat exchanger,and
of the standingwave,was small. Temperaturesof eachheat dissipationof acousticpowerin the coldportionof the reso-

1168 J. Acoust.Soc. Am.,Vol. 84, No. 4, October1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacoustic

engines 1168

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I I I I I I I I TABLE I. Short-engineapproximationappliedto the thermoacoustic

Dimensions (at T,• = 255 K, p,, = 10 bar)

2yo= 0.38 mm T,,/3 = 1

2l = 0.08 mm 7 = 1.67
Ax = 8 cm a = 940 m/s
A/4 - x = 9 cm p,, -- 1.9kg/m3
R = 1.9cm cp= 5.2J/g-K
c= 0.68
0.6 f= 500 Hz K-- 1.3 mW/cm-K
K, = 1.6 mW/cm-K
(b) p, = 1.4g/cm3
c• = 1.1 J/g-K
(for PA = 0.3 bar, AT= 90 K)
A/4 = 47 cm a/4f
p'•= 2.9)<104 Pa Eq. (60)
ß (u;) =6m/s Eq. (61)
VTc,t -- 15 K/cm Eq. (75)
F = 0.7 AT/Ax •7Tcn
0 i i i i i I i i 6•.=0.1 mm x/K/n'fp,,%
0 I 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
6,, = 0.07mm xf•6K
bc (w) e, -- 0.07 Eq. (65)
II = 4.9 m vcR2/( Yo+ l)
FIG. 24. Measuredperformance(filled points) of thermoacoustic refrig-
erator comparedwith numericalintegration(lines) of the equationsde-
H= 6 W Eq.(76)
rivedin the Appendix.Symbolsrepresentthe sameacousticpressures asin W= 6W E.q.
COP/COPc= 0.35 (H/W)/(T,,AT)
Fig. 22. (a) Temperatureratio and (b) normalizedcoefficientof perfor-

nator, respectively.The curvesin Fig. 24 are the resultsof

numericalcalculationsusingthe equationsderived in the
Appendix. The agreementbetweenmeasurementsand cal-
culationsis qualitativelyexcellentand quantitativelygood. (u])/co = 0.2 cm, enormous
by normalaudioacousticstan-
Someof the disagreementmay be due to substantialblock- dards.But fortunatelythe boundary-layerReynoldsnumber
ageby the heat exchangerstripsof someof the stackchan- (u])6•/v_•50, an order of magnitudebelowthe onsetof
nelsboundedby the nylon fishline. turbulence. 42
As an illustrationof the utility of the short-enginere- Finally,theshort-engine
H= 6
sultsof Sec.II, we will now estimatethe refrigerator'sper- w and COP/COPc = 0.35, in factor-of-2 agreementwith
formancefor PA/Pro= 0.03, TH = 300 K, and Tc = 210 K, the PA/p,• = 0.03 data of the figure.It is fortunatethat the
and compareour answersto Fig. 24. The necessarydimen- short-engineapproximation seemsto work so well even
sionsof the apparatushavealreadybeenpresented,and the whenthe engineisnot short.Calculationssuchasthis canbe
relevantpropertiesof helium gas (and Kapton plastic) are donequicklywith a pocketcalculator,servingas a rough
readilyavailable;theseare summarizedat the top of Table I. guidein the early stagesof enginedesignand, later, as a
Then, in the bottomof the table,we displaythe estimatesof checkof morelaboriousnumericalintegrations.
the short-engineapproximation. Note that Ax/7• = 0.27,
AT/TIn = 0.35, Ax/(A/4 -- x) = 0.9, and W/H= 1.0;
noneof theseratios is much lessthan unity, so we cannot C. Liquid sodium thermoacoustic engine
expectveryaccurateresults,sincethisapproximationis only Over50yearsago,Malone
valid whenthe stackis shortenoughthatp• and (u•) (de- heat enginesusingliquid water as the workingsubstance.
pendenton x) and the thermophysicalproperties[depen- Malonerealizedthat manyliquids,includingwaterand so-
denton Tm(x) ] do not vary appreciablyfrom oneendof the dium, havelargeenoughthermalexpansioncoefficients to
stack to the other. We find F = 0.7, between 0 and 1 as it be goodheat-engine workingsubstances, but he rejectedso-
must be for a refrigerator,and not too closeto either limit: dium as "too dangerous." Today,materialstechnology is
Closeto F = 0, the refrigeratorcouldnot spana largetem- sufficiently
advanced to permitsafe,routinehandlingof liq-
peraturedifferencewhile, closeto F = 1, it couldnot pump uidsodium.Its extremely lowPrandtlnumber,highdensity,
much heat. The thermal penetrationdepth is about 1/4 of moderateexpansioncoefficient,and high electricalconduc-
the plate spacing,so the boundarylayer approximation tivity led us to considerits usein a thermoacoustic prime
shouldbe excellent.The plateheatcapacityfactoresis near movershownschematicallyin Fig. 25, in which heatis con-
zero, as is usualfor a gaseousworking substance.We find vertedto acousticpowerthermoacoustically and the acous-
(u•) = 6 m/s sothat the acoustic displacement amplitude tic poweris convertedto electricpowermagnetohydrody-

1169 J. Acoust.Soc.Am.,Vol.84, No.4, October1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacoustic

engines 1169

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(66), and the same conclusionscan be drawn again: For
high power density,an engineshouldoperateat high fre-
3 TH quencyand high acousticamplitude,usinga fluid with a
x gives
a quantity
onx/7• and F, andisindependentof P• and f, andof Ax and
) Tc
A T separately:

= 2sin
Wmax cos •
+ es)(1
+ l/yo)
(?'-- 1) sin(x/7•) F
When F isverylarge,the secondterm isnegligible;examina-
forx/h = re/4;
i.e., for a stack locatedhalfway betweenthe pressureand
velocity antinodes.For finite F, the secondterm, propor-
) Tc
tionalto• andhence
tant, and the [ cos3(x/h) ] / [sin(x/h) ] factorin it pushes
the optimal x closer to the velocity node, where viscous
:) TH lossesare smaller.These characteristicsof Eq. (106) are
shownquantitativelyin Fig. 26, wherewe plot contoursof
xinthex/h- 1/F plane.
isforTm= 700
K sodium,with 1 d- es = 1.4 and 1 d- l/Yo = 1.8. Contours
of W2/Wma,,
FIG. 25. Schematicof liquid-sodiumthermoacousticengine.The resonator similar,
sincethefactorxf-•(1 + es)( 1 + l/yo)2/(y - 1) in
operatesin its fundamentalmode, so that there is a pressureantinodeat
each end and a velocity antinode in the center. The stacksand heat ex-
Eq. (106) is usuallyof the orderof unity.
changersproduceacousticpowerfrom heat;at Tc at the velocityantinodea Now, let us considerthe efficiencyof a thermoacoustic
magnetohydrodynamic generatorconvertsthe acousticpower to electric engine,again in the short-engine,low-Prandtl-numberap-
power. proximation.
r/= W2/H2,whereW2andH2
are given by Eqs. (82) and (81). Normalizing r/ by
namically. We expect this no-moving-partselectric r/c = A T /Tm and usingEq. (75) for V Tcrit, we obtain
generatorto find usewherereliabilityis paramount,suchas
in spaceandin the deepocean.Thisworkwassupported
the Divisionof AdvancedEnergyProjectsin DOE's Office
r/ 1[ ( (ld-e's)(tOma(U•
of BasicEnergySciences.
We will use the sodium engineto further illustrate the
utility of the short-engineapproximationof Sec.II. There,
we showedthat a thermoacousticengineis bestoperatedat / 6.o
high P•, usinga fluid with a largeexpansioncoefficientand
small Prandtl number.Here we will seehow stackposition
and temperaturegradientfurther affectthe powerand effi-
ciencyof an engine.We begin by consideringthe acoustic
power, givenby Eq. (82) in the low-Prandtl-numberlimit
appropriatefor sodium.ReplacingFAx by AT/VTcrit and
usingEqs. (75), (60), and (61) give

P.• l d-l/yoAT/3 (104)
8 pma 1 d-es
for the maximum power, which occursfor x = 2./8, where
p] u] is largest,and for F = c•. 0

If we divide roma
x by a volume V-- II6• ( 1
d- l/Yo) (A/4) roughly equal to the volume of the engine FIG. 26. Contours
of constant
includingresonator,we get a power density (dashedlines) and of constantnormalizedefficiencyr//r/c (solidlines) in
the x/X-1/F plane,for the sodiumenginein the short-engine approxima-
: Z2 Trn-•-.--
• 'P'•AT o
(105) tion. The assumedoperatingconditionsare given in the text. Here, x/
V ld-es pma2 Tm X = rr/2 at the pressureantinode;x/X = 0 at the velocityantinode.

1170 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift: Thermoacousticengines 1170

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r//r/c in Fig. 26 decreases
from 0.28 to 0.07. Another new
X •+ ((ul)/o) plot showsthat r//r/c canthen be increasedbackto 0.26 by
increasingPA to 600 bar. The contoursare alwaysqualita-
> 0 in the
(1 1 -- 1/P lower-lefthalf-planeandlargestat 1/F -- 0, x/•. = vr/4;and
with r//r/c displayinga singlemaximumsomewherein the
middle of the lower-left half-plane.Similar, usefulcontour
plotscanbegeneratedfor thermoacoustic heatpumps,plot-
In this equation we can see, neatly separated,the three tingH2/Hma
x andCOP/COPcinthex/X-F plane.
sourcesof inefficiencycommon to all thermoacousticen- The actual dimensionsand operatingconditionsof the
gines.First,the intrinsicirreversibilityappearsasthe factor sodium
bya numerical
1/F, just asit did in Eq. (40) in Sec.I. The intrinsicirreversi- basedon the methodoutlinedin the Appendix,and by prac-
bility isdueto the oscillatory,nonisothermalheat transferin tical constraintssuchasthe strengthof easilyfabricatedcon-
the y directionthat occursat the acousticfrequencyacross structionmaterials.The calculationspredictedthat the en-
6• at all thesurfaceareaII Ax of the engine.The onlyway to ginewouldproduceacousticpowerat r//r/c = 0.31, for Tn
reducethis sourceof inefficiencyis to operatethe engine -- 1000 K, Tc = 400 K, and PA = 200 bar, in goodagree-
closerto (F- 1) = 0, where the engine'spower unfortu- ment with the short-enginepredictionsof Fig. 26. To test
nately approacheszero. Second,viscousloss,proportional theseideas,we firstbuilt an enginewith a singlestackand no
to x/-•,appears
in thesquare
of Eq. (107), andis powertransducer,sothat all acousticpowerproducedby the
made up of two terms:"1," and a more complicatedterm. stackwould beabsorbedby resonatorlosses.The heart of the
The latter, proportional to ( ,Ore
a( u•) /p• ) 2 enginewas the stack of molybdenumplates,electric-dis-
= (1 + 1/Yo)2cot2(x/K), showsthat viscouslosscanbe chargemachinedfrom a singleroundbar of stress-relieved
madelessimportantby puttingthe stackcloserto the veloc- molybdenum.Molybdenumwas chosenbecauseof its high
ity node;large F and ?'and smalle• are alsohelpful.Third, specificheatandbecauseit doesnot dissolvein liquid sodi-
the last factor in Eq. (107) is due to ordinary longitudinal um. The stack had a central rib, with threaded holes for
conductionof heat. Asidefrom factorsof the order of unity, mounting.The plateswere0.021 cm thick, spaced0.040 cm
the relevant term is proportional to a ratio of lengths- apart.The stack,whichfilledthe resonatori.d., was5.21 cm
squared:yo6,,in the numerator,and the squareof the local longandwasmountedwith itshotend 12.65cmfromthehot
amplitude(u])/o0 in the denomina- end of the resonator.The resonatorwas 122 cm long, 4.89-
tor. Thus longitudinalconductionlossesare minimizedby cm o.d., and 3.8-cm i.d. The endsof the resonatorwere weld-
operatingnear a velocity antinode,at high Math number, edto 32-kgmasses to providenearlyfixedacousticboundary
and keepingYoas small as possible,typically yo,•6,,. It is conditions.Stainless-steel high-pressurebellowsvalves,with
alsohelpfulto keep IK,, e•, a, and I?F small. the bellowsaway from the resonator,were weldedto short
When Eqs. (60) and (61 ) are usedto replacep] and sectionsof tubingat the top andbottomof the resonatorfor
(u]) with trigonometricfunctionsofx, Eq. (107) becomes a fillingandemptying.A flowimpedanceandballastvolume,
functionofx/X and 1/F that canbe representedasa contour half full of sodiumand half argongas,maintaineda constant
plot of constantr//•/c, similarto that for W2/Wm•x.Sucha meanpressurePrn-•-97 bar.The two heatexchangers each
plot is shownin Fig. 26, for T• = 700 K sodium,P• = 200 consistedof 18 stainless-steel hypodermictubes, 1.1-mm
bar, f= 1000Hz, Yo= 1.26•, e• = 0.4, and1= 0.8 Yo.The o.d., 0.2-mmwall, weldedinto holesdrilled throughthe res-
hasa maximum
of•/= 0.28•/cat F = 2.0andat onator.The tubeswerespacedevenlyacrosstheboreof the
x/X = 1.3, closeto the pressureantinode.The efficiency resonator, theirlengthsvaryingfromtheresonator the
(and work flux) decreasesfor smallerx/X becausethe vis- center to about 1 cm for the tubes nearest the wall. Manifolds
to (u•) 2,increase;
similarly, were welded over the tubes on the outside of the resonator.
the efficiencydecreasesfor larger x/X as the temperature The hot heat exchangerwas connectedto a liquid sodium
gradientnecessarilysteepens andlongitudinalthermalcon- heatexchangeloopconsisting of an electricheater,a pump,
duction becomesmore important. For F near 1, the effi- and a flowmeter.The coldheatexcha.ngerwasconnectedto
ciencyislowasthe engine'susefulworkflux,proportionalto a pressurized-water
heatexchangeloop.The stacktempera-
F- 1, decreasesrelative to both viscousand longitudinal ture difference AT was estimated to be about 10% smaller
conductionlosses,whilefor largeF the intrinsicirreversibi- than the differenceA Text betweenthe temperaturesof the
lity becomesmoreimportant.Althoughthemaximain two heatexchangefluids,becauseof the finiteconductivities
thereisa largeregion
in the of sodium and stainless steel.
x/X-F-• planein whichbotharereasonably
large. Our preliminarymeasurements
with thistestengineare
Short-engine contourplotsof powerand efficiencysuch described
in detailelsewhere45;
in Fig.27,wesummarize
asFig. 26 areextremelyusefulin the earlystagesof designof observed
WeseethatbelowQn= 630w, P•
an engine,becausetheyareeasyto generateandquicklygive = o,sotherewerenoacoustic
and0n wasjust
the designersemiquantitativeinformationon engineperfor- the ordinary conductionof heat from Tn to Tc by the mo-
mance.For example,if the frequencyis raisedfrom 1 to 10 lybdenum,sodium,and stainlesssteelbetweenthe two heat
kHz to make the 700 K sodiumenginemore compact,a new exchangers.
AboveOn= 630 W, the sodiumoscillated
calculationand plot quicklyshowthat the peakof optimum spontaneously
at 910 Hz, with P• increasing

1171 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift: Thermoacousticengines 1171

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I o
400 - o. (95), and the measuredvaluesof Ze, ZM, and T agreevery
Oo Oo well with calculations.
To testthe transducer'sefficiencyin convertingacoustic
300 - powertoelectric
ducerto excitethe sodiumon resonanceat high amplitude,
•" 0 o
and then switchedthe transducerto a load resistorRL and
i- 200- oø let the energystoredin the acousticresonance
flow through
the transducer to the load. Measured efficiencies were in

excellentagreementwith Eq. (96), asshownin Fig. 28. The
lOO -
o highestobservedefficiencywas 45%, for RL = 20 1•. We
o believewe canbuilda moreefficienttransducer,by reducing

the serieslead resistance(responsiblefor Re Ze) and by
0--o •a I nJ--a..• I I I
300 400 500 600 700 800 900 lOOO changingthe channelgeometryto reduceshort-circuiting
(•H end effects(responsiblefor Re ZM ).
FIG. 27. Observedperformance of the sodiumthermoacoustic testengine, V. RELATED ENGINES
with a singlestackandno powertransducerto extractacousticpower.The
acousticpressureamplitudePA and ATe,, = TH -- Tc are plottedagainst In this section,we will discusssomereciprocatingheat
hotheatflux engines,to explainsomeof thefeaturesof theseenginesfrom
the novel point of view of acoustics,and alsoto shedmore
light on thermoacoustic enginesby showingwhat they are
not.We will considertwo typesof Stirlingengine,and two
linearly withQH.Wehavenodataabove QH= 990W be- varietiesof pulse-tuberefrigerator.Throughoutthissection,
cause atsuchhighQH,P.•waslargeenough tocause cavita- wewill focuson heatpumps;mostof theconceptsareequal-
tion in one of the resonatorfill tubes,which was actinglike ly applicableto prime movers.
another, small, driven resonator. In that situation, the am- We begin by reviewingsomefeaturesof an ordinary
plitude of the 910-Hz oscillationsbuilt up exponentially thermoacousticheat pump, shown in Fig. 29, to establish
(with a time constantof a few hundred ms) until cavitation point of view and to tie togetherpointsfrom severalof the
occurred,violently killing the oscillationsin a few ms and precedingsections.The stackspansthe temperaturediffer-
restartingthe exponentialbuildup.Subsequently,
we avoid- ence Tn - Tc betweenthe two heat exchangers.It is in a
ed suchhigh QH, fearingcatastrophicfailureof the appara- quarter-wavelength cylindricalresonatorof radiusR with
tus. At the highestacousticamplitudethat we couldsafely the closedend at the right and the ultracompliantpower
achievein this apparatus,the engineproduced 18 W of transducerat the left, sothat thereis a pressureantinodeat
acousticpowerfrom 990 W of heat. the fight end and a velocity antinodeat the left end. For
We couldnot achievehigherpowerandefficiencyin this simplicity,we assumeat first that the resonatorlossesare
enginebecauseof cavitationand becausewe had not yet in- negligible.
stalled our magnetohydrodynamic(MHD) transducerto We alsoassumethat the systemhasa high Q; i.e., that
removeacousticpower from the resonator.We have been the resonator'sreactive(open) volumeis muchlargerthan
developingthe MHD transducerseparately,andtestswith it the productive volume II6• Ax of the stack. Then,
havealsobeensuccessful. In thistypeof transducer,a mag- pl u• >>p•u •' The soundwavein the resonatoris, to a good
neticfieldis appliedto the center(velocityantinode)of the approximation,a standingwave, with very little traveling-
resonator,perpendicularto the directionof acousticveloc- wavecomponent, andtheheatpumped isgiven.
togo.od ac-
ity. Electrodescontactthe sodiumthere, allowingelectric curacy by the short-engine results (Qn + Qc)/2
currentflow perpendicularto bothmagneticfieldandacous-
tic velocity.The transductionmechanismisthe sameasin an
ordinaryloudspeaker,exceptthat the metallicliquidsodium
itself servesthe function of the speaker'svoice coil. Our ß

MHD transducerconsistedof a rectangularchannelfor the

sodiumof thickness1.2cmin thedirectionof the2.3-T mag-
0.4 -
ß 0.9T
ß 1.9 T
ß 2.3T
• •
I I I I I I I 1
netic field, width 7.6 cm in the direction of electric current 0.3- I !ß
flow,andlength31 cm in the directionof acousticfluid flow, q ß
with thecentral20 cmof that lengthactuallyin themagnetic 0.2-

field and in contact with the electrodes. Leads from the elec-
trodes were connected to a 1:572 transformer to transform 0.1

the electricpower to usefulvoltageand current levels.The

MHD transducerisultracompliant,soit wasweldedinto the 0I 2• • •
10 20 50 100 200 500

center(velocityantinode)of a 1-mlong,10-cm
2 crosssec- R,(•)
tion, high-Qresonatorfilled with sodiumat 130 øC.It is now FIG. 28. E•ciency •I of theMHD transducerversusloadresistanceR,., for
46 severalmagneticfieldstrengths.Pointsaremeasuredvalues;linesarecalcu-
It obeysequationsof the canonicalform of Eqs. (94) and lationsusingEq. (96).

1172 J. Acoust.Soc.Am.,Vol.84, No. 4, October1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacoustic

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2=f dA
. (108)
Amplitude [A subtledetail of this stepcan be foundin the Appendix
Position nearEq. (A24). ] This is the total energyper unit time flow-
ing in the x direction.Using dw = T ds+ (1/p)dp, Eq.
(108) becomes

V1 • •'Vi OO

f dpmTm
+f (109)
(b) We identifythe firstterm in Eq. (109) asthe hydrodynamic
H heatfluxQ2[firstdiscussed
nearEq.(25)], andthesecond
work flux is the enthalpyflux, and their ratio is the COP.
With thesedefinitionsin mind, we showthe enthalpy,
heat, and work fluxesfor the thermoacoustic heat pump in
ßßßß Heat
Fig. 29(b). The work flux is constantfrom the transducerto
+-1-4-+ Work the left end of the stack,decreasessmoothlyto zero within
the stackaswork is absorbedto pump heat,and is constant
at zero from the right endof the stackto the right endof the
resonator.The heat flux is zero in both of the openregionsof
ß -.-.-. -, _
the resonator, where the sound wave is adiabatic and so
Sl ----0. Within the stack,Sl4:0, and the heat flux risesdis-

continuouslyfrom zero to Qc at the left end of the stack,

from Qu to zeroat theright endof the stack.
The two discontinuitiesin the heat flux are madepossibleby
at Tc andTn, supplying
and removingheat Qn; the nonzerovalueof heatflux within
the stackisdueto p• u] and the thermalinteractionbetween
fluid and plate. The enthalpyflux is everywherethe sum of
FIG. 29. (a) Q.uarter-waveleng.
th thermoacoustic
heatpump,in which the work and heat fluxes.It is constantthroughouteachof
acousticpower IV,.pumpsheat Qc from temperatureTc and deliversheat
0n totemperature
Tn,sothatIV,.-!-Qc= Qn.Platespacing
issuchthat the two open resonatorregionsand throughoutthe stack
yo•--6K.(b) Energyfluxesfor the thermoacoustic heatpump,neglecting region,becausethereare no externalsourcesor sinksof ener-
resonatorlosses.(c) Energyfluxesfor the thermoacoustic heat pump, in- gy in thoseregions.It risesdiscontinuouslyat the cold heat
cludingresonatorlosses.Positivevaluesrepresentfluxesto the right;nega- exchanger
at thehotheat
tive valuesrepresentfluxesto the left.
exchangerby Qu, whereenergyis addedand removedfrom
the engine.Within the stack,the enthalpyflux is constant
while heat flux risesand work flux drops,reflectingsimple
= z[II6K
Tm/3p•u] ( F -- 1) ofEq. (29). Buteventhoughit is
conservationof energywhile work is convertedto heat.
plUl-- Wi/•rR2isnot As a furtherillustrationof theseenergyfluxes,consider
ignorable,as it is the necessarywork suppliedby the trans- Fig. 29(c) wherewehavenowincludedresonatorloss.Some
ducerto maintain the resonanceagainstthe powerabsorbed of the work flux is now usedup by resonatorloss,so less
by the stackitself. We seeherea self-consistent
aspectof the work is availableto the stackfor pumpingheat. The work
short-engine results: If Ax,•7•, then Q>•I and so absorbedby the resonatorlossturns into heat, and hasaddi-
plUl,•p•U•; but also, if Ax,•X, then AT,•Tm, and so tional deleteriouseffectson the engineif its purposeis to
W2'••2 andagainplUl,•p•U•. refrigerate.We assumethat the two opensectionsof the res-
To be rigorous,we mustframe our discussion of power onatorare goodconductorsof heat, sothe heat generatedin
and heat fluxeswithin the enginein termsof enthalpyper them by resonatorlossis simply conductedto the nearest
unitmass w (internalenergy
because heatexchanger.Then the heatgeneratedby the left resona-
2 + pw) isthetotalenergy
47 tor lossmust be pumped away by the stack and hencede-
In thermoacoustics,
we can neglectthe kinetic energyflux creasesthe coolingpoweravailableto an externalload Qc,
it isthirdorder,andforclarityinthis and the heat generatedby the right resonatorlossincreases
sectionwe neglectthe contributionsof longitudinalthermal the amountof heatQn that mustberemovedby the external
conductionand of viscosityto the total energyflux. Taking heat sink. Again in Fig. 29(c) we seethe constancyof the
the x componentand time averageof the remainingterm to enthalpyflux exceptat the two heatexchangers, whereener-
secondorder, and integratingin y and z over the cross-sec- gyis externallysuppliedor removed.It isinstructiveto make
tional areaA of the engineor resonator,we find for the sec- suchapproximateenergy-fluxplotsfor eachof the thermo-
ond-orderenthalpyflux acousticenginesdiscussedin this review.

1173 J. Acoust.Soc. Am.,Vol. 84, No. 4, October1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacoustic

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A. Stirling engines (yo,•6,,) so that the fluid is in excellentthermal contact
Now, weconsidertheStirling-cycleheatpumpfrom the with them.This is in contrastto the thermoacousticengine's
samepoint of view. A conventionalStirlingengineis shown stack,in which moderateplate spacing(yo=6,,) ensures
schematicallyin Fig. 30(a). Two pistonson crankshaftsare poorbut nonzerothermalcontact.
at either end of a channelfilled with the engine'sworking The standardexplanationof theoperationof the Stirling
fluid. The pistonsmoveharmonicallyat the samefrequen- cycle
48adoptsa Lagrangian
ciesbut outof phase.We assumethat thelengthof theengine cyclic processexperiencedby a parcel of fluid that passes
is much smallerthan an acousticwavelength.It is easyto backand forth throughthe regenerator-heatexchangeras-
showthenthat the volumeenclosedbetweenthe pistonsand sembly.In Fig. 30(a), sucha parceliscompressed in the left
the meanvelocityof the pistonsbothvaryharmonically,and open space,displacedrightward throughthe regenerator,
in phasewith eachother. The fluid is compressed, moved expandedin the right open space,and finally displaced
right,expanded,movedleft...;so,fromanacoustical pointof leftwardthroughtheregenerator. During itscompression, it
view,thefluidexperiences an oscillatorypressurep', andan is adiabaticallyheatedfrom TH to a highertemperature,so
oscillatoryvelocityu',. The subscripts"1" signify p'•'•Pm that whenit is subsequentlydisplacedfightwardit deposits
and u'•,• a (eventhoughin practicalenginesthe formercon- theheatof compress.
ionin thehot heatexchanger;
averaged,thisheatis QH. Similarly,duringitsexpansion,the
ditionmaynotbetrue), andthe superscripts "t" signifythat
parcel is adiabaticallycooledbelow Tc so that, when it is
the time phasingbetweenp'• and u• is substantiallythat of
travelingacousticwaves;i.e.,theyaresubstantially in phase.
it absorbs
Qc fromthecoldheatex-
changer.The regeneratorservesto coolthe parcelfrom TH
Becausethe left pistonmovesin while the fluid is at high
to Tc'duringthe rightwarddisplacement, storingheatin the
pressureand out while it is at low pressure,it doestime-
plates,and then servesto warm the parcelfrom Tc to TH
averaged workWi onthefluid;similarly, thefightpiston
duringthe leftward displacement,returningthe storedheat
absorbs time-averaged workWofromthefluid.
from the platesto the parcel.The engine'soveralloperation
Betweenthe two pistonsin the fluidchannelarea regen-
is unchangedif the displacement amplitudeis sosmallthat
erator and two heat exchangers.The heat exchangersserve
no parcelpassesall the way through the regenerator-heat
the samefunction as in thermoacousticengines:They are
sources or sinksof heatQc andQH,at constant tempera-
To explaintheStirling-cycle
heatpumpin theenthalpy-
turesTc and TH, that do not significantlyimpedethe flowof
heat-work-flux framework as shown in Fig. 30(b), we
working fluid through them. The regenerator,depictedin
adoptan Eulerian,acousticpointof view,focusingattention
Fig. 30(a) asa numberof solidplatesalignedalongthe di-
on eachpointin spaceratherthan on a givenparcelof fluid.
rectionof fluid motionand smoothlyspanningthe tempera-
In the region betweenthe left piston and the hot heat ex-
ture differenceTH- Tc, resemblesthe "stack" of a ther-
changer, theworkfluxisconstant at Wi,theheatfluxiszero
moacousticengine,but it functionsvery differently. The
because s•= 0, andsotheenthalpy fluxis Wi.Similarly, in
purposeof the regeneratoris to enforcelocally isothermal
the right openspacethe heat flux is zero and the work and
conditionson the fluid: T• (x, y) = 0 (even though Tm de-
enthalpy fluxesareWo.These workfluxes aresimply the
pendson x). Thus the regeneratorplatesmust havea large
heat capacity (e• ,• 1) and must be very closely spaced acousticintensitiesp lu• timesthe channelarea.
To understandenergyfluxeswithin the regenerator,we
returnto Eq. ( 109) anduseds= (cp/ T) dT -- (13/p)dpto
expresss• in termsof T, and p•, obtaining
(a) •"•N • 6c
0 '0
H:=f [,OmCt,
] . (llO)
0 ,
From now on we consideronly the ideal-gasworkingfluid,
0 0
for which Tm/g = 1. Then
T. Tc

(b) qvl. ::: :. H2=• d•PrnC•

1, (111)

i' ' • '•'•,t, - , : : : : :

and within the regenerator,where T• -- 0, the enthalpyflux ß

is zero.The work flux, whichdecreasessmoothlyfrom Wi to

oppositeheat flux, so that the enthalpy flux is zero. The


ß ß ß ß ß Heat
++ +Work
areOcandOH.ThusQc= WoandQH= Wi.It is
alsoeasyfrom this point of view to seethat the Stirlingcycle
has Carnot's efficiency,as long as nonessential(but un-
avoidablein practice)effectssuchasviscosity areneglected.
FIG. 30. A conventionalStirling-cycleheat pump. (a) Schematicof the
engine.The platesin the regeneratorare verycloselyspaced,with Yo'•6•, With the regeneratormuchshorterthan a wavelength,con-
sothe regeneratorisnotlike thestackofa thermoacousticengine.(b) Ener- tinuity of acousticpressureand massflux acrossthe regen-
gy-flux diagram for the engine. erator gives p,(right) =pl(left) and ul(right)/Tc

1174 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G. W. Swift:Thermoacousticengines 1174

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= u•(left)/T H for the ideal gaswith p,, proportionalto B. Pulse-tube refrigerators
l/T,,,. Because
Wo:p•u•,wethenhaveWi/Wo= TH/Tc, We concludethisreviewby discussing enginesthat com-
so the coefficientof performanceis bine the Stirling engine with the thermoacousticengine:
pulse-tuberefrigerators.The basicpulse-tuberefrigeratorof
= Qc = Wo =r.-rc
Tc =COPe. GiffordandLongsworth•2wasshownin Fig. 6(b). It is a
thermoacousticdevice,becauseheat pumpingoccursin the
(112) large, open "pulse" tube, whosediameteris a few thermal
49realizedthat the essence
of the Stirlingen- penetrationdepths.There, the oscillatorypressureand ve-
gineisthat thetimephasingbetweenpressure andvelocityin locity haveessentiallystanding-wavetime phasing,and the
the regeneratoris the sameasfor a travelingacousticwave. tube walls themselves serve the function of the usual ther-
He proposedthe eliminationof pistonsfrom Stirlingengines moacousticstack,imposingan isothermalboundarycondi-
by usingacousticaltechniques,to form what he callsa trav- tion on the standingwave to stimulateheat pumping.The
eling-waveheat engine.Figure 31 showsone of Ceperley's primary purposeof the regeneratoristo thermallyisolatethe
designs,a traveling-waveheat-drivenrefrigerator.The path coldendof the pulsetubefrom the room-temperature "pow-
length around the loop of tubing is an integral number of er transducer" (a rotary valve, alternatelysupplyinghigh
wavelengths,so that a traveling wave can run around the and low pressure).
loop.At onelocationin the loop,a regeneratorandtwo heat In Fig. 32(a) we redraw the pulse-tuberefrigerator
exchangers functionasa primemover,addingacousticpow- schematically,consistentwith the other figuresof this sec-
er to the travelingwaveas heat flowsfrom a high-tempera- tion. (For the moment, ignore the dashedportion of the
ture heat sourceto a room-temperatureheat sink. At an- figureat the right end.) The apparatusis orders-of-magni-
otherlocation,anotherregeneratorandtwo heat•xchangers
functionasa heatpump,usingacousticpowerfrom the trav-
elingwaveto pumpheatfrom a low temperatureto room
temperature.In preliminarymeasurements with a traveling-
waveheatengine,Ceper!eyobservedextraattenuationwhen (a) 6H25C5Cl
a travelingacousticwavepropagateddownthe temperature
gradientin a regenerator(heat-pumpconfiguration),and
: / /;,' -
reducedattenuationwhenthe wavepropagatedup the tem-
.o • :1--- _.4 I
I • I
peraturegradient (prime-moverconfiguration).
We pauseto summarizethe most important pointsof THITc ITH \\ /
this section.Both Stirlingand thermoacoustic enginesre- Yo<<5•Yo--• \ /
quireoscillatorypressureandvelocity,andboth usea struc-
ture made of solid platesspanningthe temperaturediffer-
ence. In the Stirling engine,the regeneratorplate spacing . . ... ß lie

mustbemuchsmallerthana thermalpenetrationdepth,and
::..... !+..++,L.,Qo,
andvelocitymustbethat .......
ß /oß o'• e
of a travelingwave. In the thermoacoustic engine,the stack
plate spacingmust be comparableto a thermal penetration
ß 000 ß Heat
depth, and the time phasingbetweenpressureand velocity (c) + + + Work
mustbe that of a standingwave.The short-engineapproxi-
mationof Sees.I and II assumes standing-wave phasing,and
sois inapplicableto Stirlingengines;the theorypresentedin
the Appendixis generalenoughto describeboth Stirlingand
thermoacousticengines. = •H3
I}'ac• ! QH1•Vo
•- cooliel-

H2 ß

;' , ; ©e
., , •'

TR TH FIG. 32. The pulse-tuberefrigerator.(a) The basicpulse-tuberefrigerator

consistsof a longcylinderwith oscillatorypressuresource,regenerator,and
thermoacoustic enginein series.The orificepulse-tuberefrigeratorincludes
Tc TR additionalparts,showndashed:a needlevalve (or otherflow impedance)
L and a largevolume. (b) Energy-fluxdiagramfor the basicpulsetube.The
standing-wave part of the acousticoscillationscausesthermoacoustic heat
ß ß
ß ß
pumpingin the Yo'"6• region,andthe traveling-wave part causesStirling-
•c • (•R2 cycleheatpumpingin the Yo<6• region.(c) Energy-fluxdiagramfor the
orificepulsetube.The additionof the mechanicallylossyflow impedance
FIG. 31. Ceperley'sdesignfor a traveling-waveheat-drivenrefrigerator. andvolumeat the right endenhances the traveling-wavepart of the oscilla-
The arrowsshowthe directionof wavepropagation. tions,increasingthe Stirling-cycleheat pumping.

1175 J. Acoust.Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacousticengines 1175

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tudeshorterthan the acousticwavelength.At the left endis decreasein u]. With more travelingwave, the regenerator
it asasinusoidal- then pumps more heat, so the total coolingpower is in-
ly drivenpiston,eventhoughearlypulsetubesusednonsinu- creased,asshownin Fig. 32(c).
soidalswitched-valvedrives.In the centeristhe regenerator, Radebaughwas the first to appreciatethe important
spanningthe temperaturedifferencefrom TH to Tc. At the heat-pumpingfunctionof the regeneratorin the pulse-tube
rightendisthethermoacoustic pulsetube,spanningthetem- refrigerato.r,
andthat it is enhancedby the flowthroughthe
peraturedifferencefrom Tc to TH. We havedrawn it with a impedancein the orificepulsetube.His versionof the orifice
stack,schematically,becausethe pulsetube'swallsperform pulsetubes• reaches
60 K withP•/Pm= 0.27at f= 9 Hz.
the function of a stack. The orificepulsetube is very elegantin that it performses-
In this simplifiedexplanationof the pulse tube, we sentiallyas a Stirlingengine,but with the low-temperature ß

usuallyignoremanynuisanceeffects,suchasimperfectther- piston(absorbingWoin Fig. 30) replacedby a work absorb-

mal contactin the regeneratorand viscosity.In Fig. 32(b),er with no movingparts:a lossyflow impedance, anda ther-
wequalitatively showtheenergy fluxesforthebasic.pulse moacousticstackthat evenproducessomeextra refrigera-
tube.Work Wi is producedby'thesource;mostof it, Wc, is tion. In principle,replacingthe work-extractingpistonby a
absorbedin the stack,as requiredto permit the standing- lossyelementleadsto lower efficiency,but the increasein
wavepart of the acousticoscillationsto pumpheat,remov- simplicityis far more significant.
ingOc• fromTc anddelivering
Oa• to Ta. Because
frequencyis so low (f_• 1 Hz), longitudinalconduction
to yo•,,/( (u] )/w) 2 accord-
ing to Eq. (107), canbe reasonablysmall,eventhis closeto The experimentsdiscussedin Sec.IV werelargelythe
antinodewhere(u]) issmallandV T_•V Tc•tis work of Tom Hofler and A1 Migliori. The threeof us, with
large. Since prohibitive longitudinal conductionlossesdo the late JohnWheatIcy,developedmuch of the physicalin-
not forceit away from the pressureantinode,the stackalso tuition that is the foundation of this review. John's leader-
enjoysrelativelylow viscouslosses. ship,guidance,and insightwere invaluable,and his love of
But,to reachthestack,Wc hasto flowthrough
the thermodynamicswas a great inspiration. Steve Garrett
regenerator.And sincethereis alsoa temperaturedifference made innumerablecontributionsthroughout. Stimulating
acrossthe regenerator,there must be Stirling-cycleheat conversationswith Jay Maynard and Ray Radebaugh
in it, removing
heat•c2 fromTc anddelivering helpedconsiderablyin the preparationof Secs.I and V, re-
heat Qa2 to Ta. Surprisingly,the regeneratorpumpsnon- spectively.Finally, I thank IsadoreRudnickfor convincing
heatfrom Tc to TH. The total refrigeration, me to write
n.egligib!e this review, and Dick Martin, Gloria Bennett,
Qc• q'-Qc2, is partly thermoacoustic,partly Stirling. Yet SteveGarrett, Tom Hofler, and especiallyVince Kotsubo
the two are not really independent:Without the thermo- for criticallyreadingan earlierdraft. Preparationof this re-
acousticregionto absorbacousticpower,therewouldbe no view,andmuchof the work describedherein,wassupported
noStirling- by the Division of Materials Sciencesin DOE's OfiSceof
cyclerefrigeration. BasicEnergySciences.
We can concludefrom either of two easy arguments
that,in thisinviscid
model,Oc• and•c2 donotdifferby
ordersof magnitude. First,weknow•c2 = Wc because APPENDIX
H = 0 inside thecoldendoftheregenerator,
andweknow Here, we outline the mostgeneralthermoacousticderi-
Oc•• Wcbecause thestack'sCOPisnotordersofmagni- vationthat we know. As shownin Fig. 12 of the main text,
tudelessthanCOPc-• 1;hence, Oc•• Oc2.Second,
nearly we considera parallel-plategeometrywith the x axisalong
all the volumeto the right of the coldheatexchangeris pro- the directionof soundpropagation,the y axisnormalto the
ductive (little is reactive or dissipative),so p•ul .-•p•u]. ß o
fluid-solid boundary with y = 0 in the center of the fluid
TakingIr•(II•,,/A) (F -- 1)l '• 1, we thenhave Wc• Qc•; and y = Yoat the boundary, and the y' axis also normal to
so,again,Oc•"••c2. Earlyresearchers
refri- the fluid-solid boundary, with y'-0 in the center of the
gerationapparentlydid not appreciatethis thermodynamic solid and y'= l at the boundary. Note that y and y' are
importanceof the regenerator;they includedit simply to oppositelydirected.The solidis assumedto be perfectlyrig-
thermally isolatethe cold end of the pulsetube from the id. We will usea first-orderexpansionin the acousticampli-
pressure source. tudefor all variables;for example,we approximatethe pres-
sømadea significant
in sure P•Pm nt-P•eiot.We assumethat the averagefluid
pulse-tuberefrigerationby introducingtheorificepulse-tube velocityv• = 0. Beginningwith generalequationsof fluid
refrigerator.Their modificationto the basicpulsetube is mechanics,we will derivea waveequationfor the first-order
showndashedin Fig. 32(a). At the right end of the pulse acousticpressureamplitude p• (x) at meanpressurePrnin
tube,a flowimpedance(an adjustableneedlevalvein further termsof the mean temperaturedistributionT• (x) and of
by Radebaugh
5•) leadsto a largevolume,so material propertiesand geometry.We will also derive an
that the pressureoscillationsin the pulsetubecauseoscilla- expressionfor the time-averagedsecond-orderenergyflux

tory flow in the impedance,in phasewith the pressureoscil- H2 along x in the fluid in terms of p•, T•, and material
lations.Thisresultsin a largeincrease in traveling-wave
in- propertiesand geometry.
tensity throughout the engine, with an attendant slight First, wederivean expressionfor thex componentof the

1176 J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift: Thermoacousticengines 1176

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fluidvelocityfromthe generalequationof motion
s2of a order,andagain
0 2Ti/Ox2compared
viscousfluid, Eq. (A8) becomes

p.• + (v.V)v= - Vp+ttV2v

+ •'+ V(V.v), t9mC•
1+uI dx --koT,,,
2.. (A9)
(A1) We substituteEq. (A4) for uI and solveEq. (A9) for
v isvelocity,p ispressure,
anditand•' are subjectto the boundaryconditionsT1(Yo) = Tsl(1) = Tbl
dynamicand secondviscosity,respectively.(We havene- andK(•Ti/Oy)Iy,,= -- K• (OT•i/Oy')I•. Theresultis,after
glectedthetemperaturedependence of viscosity,
whichcan a long calculation,
beimportantat extremelylargetemperature gradients.
) To
firstorder,thex componentof Eq. (A 1) is

U= dp,
(A2) x(1-(a-acosh[
1)cosh[ ] ].)dp,
+ i)yo/6,, •x'dT,,
where Ul is the x componentof vl. We know that
ul/vl •>h/S,,, 3/3x is of orderl/h, 3/3y is of order
and$v,• h, wherevl isthe y component of vl, h istheradian (dpl/dx)(drm/dx)(1
(a- 1)prow2 +Esf,,f,,)
lengthofthesoundwave,• = x/2v/wistheviscous penetra-
cosh[(1 + i)y/6,, ]
tiondepth,andv = It/p,, isthekinematicviscosity.
There- X , (A10)
fore, all other viscousderivativesmay be neglectedcom- ( 1 + Es)cosh[ ( 1 + i)yo/tS,,
paredtoIt 3 2ul/0y2,andEq. (A2) reduces
to wherea = cv It/K = v/tcisthePrandtlnumber,
1. (A3) f• _ tanh[(1+i)yo/tS,,
( 1 + i)yo/&,
] (All)

With the boundaryconditionu,(Yo) = 0, Eq. (A3) hasthe tanh[(1 + i)yo/6,,]

solution (A12)
( 1 + i)yo/•5,,

U1=O• cosh[(l+i)y/&,])
• 1- cosh[
( 1 + i)yo/$•] , . (A4) Es-=
•Kp,.Cptanh[ ( 1+ i)yo/&,]
•KsPscs tanh[ ( 1q-i) 1/•5s
, (A13)

The temperature
in thesolidTsis givenby thesolution
of rS,,= x/2tc/co
is the fiuid'sthermalpenetrationdepth,and
tc= K/p,, cv isitsthermalditfusivity.
= tq V2T•, (A5) Now, we derivethe waveequationfor pl(x) from the
continuityequationand the equationof motion,utilizing
wheretq = Ks/pscsisthesolid'sthermalditfusivity,
and boththeequationof stateandtheaboveequations
for ui and
p•, andc• arethesolid's
thermalconductivity,density,and T1.Thecontinuity
heatperunitmass,respectively.To firstorder,and
with(02Tsl/OX2)/(O2Tsl/Oy '2)•K's/(.O•
2• 1,Eq.(A5) be- op
(pv)=0 (A14)
becomes to first order
'2, (A6
) icop u•) +p,,Ovl
•+ -•-x(p,,, 0y
= 0. (A15)
which has the solution
CombiningEq. (A 15) with the x derivativeof Eq. (A3)
[(1+ i)y'/6•
] (A7) gives
• = 42g•/wisthesolid's
and with the temperatureamplitudeTo1 at the boundary
dx •O(ItO2ul)
Oy 001
2 +iWpm
y' = I as yet undetermined. Theequation
ofstatecanbeusedto expressp
• in termsof T•
The temperature in thefluidis foundfromthegeneral
28 p• = -p• •T• + (y/a2)p•, (A17)
wherey istheratioofisobaricto isochoric
a is the adiabaticsoundspeed.Substituting
Eq. (A 17) into
= V. (K VT) + (terms quadratic in velocities), Eq. (A 16) yields
(A8) o2 d2p,
•T• a•yp• dx
perunitmassandK isfluidthermal
Writing& = (%/•dT-
is thefluid'sisobaricspecific
(•/p)dp, where
heatperunit massandfl is its O½02Ul)
=O. (A18)
isobaricthermalexpansion coefficient,
keepingtermsto first UsingEqs.(A 10) and (A4) for Tl andu•, Eq. (A 18) may

1177 J. Acoust.Soc.Am.,Vol.84, No.4, October1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacoustic

engines 1177

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be integrated with respectto y from 0 to Yo to obtain a The first term on the right in Eq. (A24) is zero because
differentialequationfor Pl asa functionofx only. Note that ul = 0. The integralsof the secondand third termsin Eq.
vl is zero at both y = 0, by symmetry,and at the boundary (A24) sumto zero becausethe second-ordertime-averaged
Y = Yo.The resultof the integrationis mass flux is zero'

1-+-es Pl -4 CO
2 dx '' Pm dx oY"(pm
dy--O. (A25)

a2 f,,- f, dTm
dpl_ O. ( A19
w2 (1-cr)(l+es) dx dx
puw dy= Pm UlWldy
This is an important result. It is an ordinary differential do

equationfor the complexacousticpressureamplitudep i (x)

in termsof the distributionof the meantemperatureTm(x) = Jo
[ tOmUp
TlUl q-(1 -- Tm/•)plUl] dy,
and (temperature dependent) thermophysicalproperties
and geometryof thefluid andsolid.For an idealgasandwith
es= 0, thisresultwasobtained
by Rott.•4Oncep• hasbeen wherewe haveuseddw= T ds+ (1/p)dp =c•, dT + (1/
determined,theotherfirst-orderquantitiesUl, T1, Pl, andOl p) ( 1 -- T/?)dp.The secondandthirdintegralsof Eq. (A23)
are readily obtainedfrom Eqs. (A4), (A 10), (A 17), and containtermsof all orders,but only the zero-ordertermswill
(A 15), if desired. be significant.Hence,we take
In steadystate,for an enginewithout lateral heat flows
flux]/2 along - f•'K8Tdy--•01
ao Ox
dy' 8x
x must be independentof x. We will now derivean expres-
to second
orderin theacoustic
ampli- aTm
= -- ( yoK + lKs) •. (A27)
tude.By conservation
of energy
55 dx
8 1 Finally, the last integralin Eq. (A23) hasmany terms.
+ Using argumentssimilar to thoseprecedingEq. (A3), we
but puwis
T--v.Ig], (A20)oforderplu•=pmaU2•.Hence,
where e and w are internal energyand enthalpy per unit
mass,respectively,and lg is the viscousstresstensor,with ao (v'Ig),,dy puw
r dy•)k•
v'= 21 6•
56 (A28)

i 2
k)+•'6 Ovk so that the viscousterm (v. Ig)• is negligible.Hence, Eq.
-40X Ox i•Ox
k (A23) becomes
Termsin vv2 are of third orderand henceare neglected.
=ao [tOrnCp
] ary
Integratingthe remainingtermsin Eq. (A20) with respect
to y from y = 0 to y' = 0 and time averagingyield - ( yoK + IK• ) •, (A29)

•x puw
-- KOT
dy ao Ox
flux valid to secondorder in the acousticquantities.Substi-
tuting Eqs. (A 10) and (A4) for T1 and u• and performing
' OTs
Oxdy'-.,o =o, (A22) the integrationyield finally, after a lengthycalculation,

with the overbar denotingthe time average.The quantity

within the squarebracketsis the time-averagedenergyflux
J//II along
t, dTmdpl dp,
.t•= .,o puw
dy-.,o KOT
Oxdy 2W3pm(1--O
') dx dx dx

- i 8Ts
Oxdy'-.,o (v.E)xdy. (A23) XIm[f,,
(1 + es)(1 +or)

J/to second
ampli- dT.,
-- H( yoK + lKs) •, (A30)
tude. The first integralin Eq. (A23) becomes dx

puw dy•_ (Pm Ul Wm-+-ProU2Wm where Im[ ] signifiesthe imaginarypart and the tilde de-
dO dO
notescomplexconjugation.This important resultgivesthe
+ p•u•w• +p• u•w•)dy. (A24) energyflux alongx in termsof Tm(x), P l (x), and material

1178 J. Acoust.Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacousticengines 1178

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propertiesand geometry.For an ideal gasand with es= 0, ient resonatorlocation),and to specifyits amplitudethere.
thisresultwasobtainedby Rott.57 Then,thecomplexp• and p• justoutsidethestartingendof
The wave equation,Eq. (A19), and the energy-flux the stack can be determinedby standard acousticstech-
equation,Eq. (A30), arethe principalresultsof thisAppen- niques,or by integratingthe equationsthemselves, with the
dix. They are the startingpointfor all the short-engine
re- resonatorwallsplayingthe roleof the plates,from the veloc-
suits used in Sec. II and thereafter, and the basisof all our ity nodeto thestartingendof thestack,Next, p• and p• can
careful thermoacoustic numericalintegrations.Although be determinedjust insMethe startingend of the stackby
this is the mostgeneralthermoacoustic theory we havede- invokingcontinuityof pressure andvolumetricvelocity[ the
veloped,it hasseveralnotableassumptions built into it: ( 1) integralof Eq. (A4) ] at thestackend.Thesetechniques can
This is a completelylineartheory.The second-order energy alsobeusedto find p• and p• at thepowertransducer, once
effectsare obtainedfrom only first-order acoustics,obviat- p• and px at thefinalendof the stackhavebeencomputed.
ing the formidablecalculationof P2, u2, and T2. Thus we If thesedo not properlymatchthe impedance of the power
neglectnonlineareffects,suchasstreaming,that will be im- transducer, thesystemisnotresonant,showingthata wrong
portant at high Mach numbers.(2) We have assumedthat valueof cowasusedthroughthe entirecalculation.
the acousticamplitudesare low enoughto avoid turbu-
42sothatu•6,,/v< 500.(3) Wehaveassumed
platesarestationaryandrigid.Thismaybe a poorassump-
•J.C. Wheatley
tion for enginesusingliquids(or veryhigh-pressure gases), C. WheatleyandA. Cox,"Naturalengines,"
Phys.Today38, 50 (August
whoseacousticimpedancemay not be negligiblecompared 1985).
to that of the solidplatematerial. (4) We haveassumedthe 2A.A. PutnamandW. R. Dennis,"Survey
of organ-pipe
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meanfluid velocityis zero, eventhoughtheremay be appli-
3B.Higgins,Nicholson'sJ. 1, 130(1802).
cationswherefluid is steadilyforcedthroughthe system,to 4p.L. Rijke,"NotizfibereineneueArt, diein eineranbeidenEndenof-
enhanceheat transferfor example.(5) We have assumed fenenR6hre enthalteneLuft in Schwingungen zu versetzen,"Ann. Phys.
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on Rijke thermoacoustic phenomena,"J. SoundVib. 7, 83 (1968).
This is an excellentapproximationat acousticfrequencies, 5B.T. Zinn,"Pulsating
in Advanced
and for all systemswe haveimagined. editedby F. J. Weinberg(Academic,London,1986), p. 113.
To numericallyintegrateEqs. (A ! 9 ) and (A30) to pre- 6C.Sondhauss,
dict the performance of thermoacoustic engines,we recog- r6hren und in gedecktenPfeifen von ungleicherWeite," Ann. Phys.
(Leipzig) 79, 1 (1850).
nize that the equationscomprisea setof threesecond-order 7N.Rott,"Thermoacoustics,"
Adv.Appl.Mech.20, 135( 1980);"A sim-
coupledreal differentialequationsin the variablesTm(x), ple theory of the Sondhausstube," in RecentAdvancesin Aeroacoustics,
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dpl 1945), 2nd ed., Vol. 2, Sec.322.
px =•, (A31) 9K. W. Taconis,"Vapor-liquid
of solutions
of 3Hein 4He,"
Physica15, 738 (1949).
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in low-temperature
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•T. Yazaki,A. Tominaga,
andY. Narahara,
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of gaseous
helium,"J. Low Temp.Phys.41, 45
isa givenconstant,independentofx within the stackbecause (1980); T. Yazaki, A. Okada, F. Mizutani, A. Tominaga,and Y. Nara-
a steadystateis assumedandno energyflowsin or out in the hara,"Quasiperiodicandchaoticstatesobservedin Taconisoscillations,"
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26, Suppl. 26-3, 1747 (1987), and referencestherein.
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through their dependence on Tm. A solutionmay be ob- Cryog. Eng. 11, 171 (1966).
tained numericallyusinga Runge-Kutta method,starting •3p.Merkli andH. Thomann,"Thermoacoustic
in a resonant
most convenientlyat the end of the stack away from the J. Fluid Mech. 70, !61 (1975).
•4R.L. Carter,M. White,andA.M. Steele
powertransducerandnumericallyintegratingalongx to the mics International Division of North American Aviation, Inc., 1962).
other end. As the solutionp• (x), Tm(x) is generated,the •SK.T. Feldman,Jr., "Reviewof theliteratureonSondhauss
workfluxW2(x) atx canalsobecomputed: tic phenomena,"J. SoundVib. 7, 71 (1968).
•6K.T. Fe!dman,
Jr., "A studyof heatgenerated
in a
closedendpipe,"Ph.D. dissertation,MechanicalEngineering,University
= II p,u•dy= Ilyo
(1-f•), (A32) of Missouri, 1966.Also availableas Bur. Eng. Res. Rep. ME-18 and as
.,o 2copm SandiaCorp., Albuquerque,NM Res.Rep. SC-DC-66-1293.
wherewehaveusedEq. (A4) for u• to evaluatetheintegral. Schallbewegung,"
Ann. Phys.(Leipzig) 134, 177 (1868).
Requiredto startthe numericalintegrationisa choiceof •8H.A. Kramers,
ofa gascolumn,"
in wideand
five attendant initial conditions:the mean temperature, narrow tubes,"Z. Angew. Math. Phys.20, 230 (1969).
complexpressure amplitude,andcomplexpressure gradient 2øN.Rott,"Thermally
partII: Stabilitylimit
at thestartingendof thestack.Themeantemperature at the for helium,"Z. Angew.Math. Phys.24, 54 ( 1973);"The influenceof heat
conductionon acousticstreaming,"Z. Angew. Math. Phys. 25, 417
startingendof the stackisjust theheatexchanger tempera- (1974); "The heatingeffectconnectedwith non-linearoscillationsin a
ture.Oftenit is convenientto takethepressure amplitudeto resonance tube,"Z. Angew.Math. Phys.25, 619 ( 1974); "Ein 'Rudimen-
be real at the adjacentvelocitynode (or someother conven- tarer' Stirlingmotor,"NeueZuercherZtg. 197, No. 210 ( 1976); "Ther-

• 1179 J. Acoust.Soc.Am.,Vol.84, No.4, October1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacoustic

engines 1179

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moacousticheatingat the closedendof an oscillatinggascolumn,"J. Flu- Chap. 1.
id Mech. 145, 1 (1984). 37Reference36,Chap.4.
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partIII: Second-older 38H.W. St. Clair,"An electromagnetic
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T. Hofler,G. W. Swift,and A. Migliori,"Anintrinsically 45A.MiglioriandG. W. Swift,"Liquid-sodium
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andJ. V. Sanders,
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New methodsfor reaching60
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(9.35). geration--a new type of cryocooler,"Proc. 18th Int. Conf. Low Temp.
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TheAnalysis of Transduction, andIts Histor- 56Reference
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1180 J. Acoust.Soc. Am., Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1988 G.W. Swift:Thermoacousticengines 1180

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