Thermodynamic Analysis of a Pulse Tube Engine

Stefan Moldenhauer
André Thess
Christoph Holtmann
Carlos Fernández-Aballı́


The pulse tube engine is an innovative simple heat engine based on the pulse tube process used in cryogenic cooling applications. The working principle involves the conversion of applied heat energy into mechanical power, thereby enabling it to be used for electrical power generation. Furthermore, this device offers an opportunity for its wide use in energy harvesting and waste heat recovery. A numerical model has been developed to study the thermodynamic cycle and thereby help to design an experimental engine. Using the object-oriented modeling language Modelica, the engine was divided into components on which the conservation equations for mass, momentum and energy were applied. These components were linked via exchanged mass and enthalpy. The resulting differential equations for the thermodynamic properties were integrated numerically. The model was validated using the measured performance of a pulse tube engine. The transient behavior of the pulse tube engine’s underlying thermodynamic properties could be evaluated and studied under different operating conditions. The model was used to explore the pulse tube engine process and investigate the influence of design parameters.


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