Reverend Dr Robert Stirling Postcard
The Reverend Dr Robert Stirling (25 October 1790 – 6 June 1878) was a Scottish clergyman, and inventor of the stirling engine.He invented what he called the Heat Economiser (now generally known as the regenerator), a device for improving the thermal efficiency of a variety of processes, obtaining a patent for the economiser and an engine incorporating it in 1816. Stirling's engine could not explode, because it worked at a lower pressure, and could not cause steam burns. In 1818 he built the first practical version of his engine, used to pump water from a quarry. The theoretical basis of Stirling's engine, the Stirling cycle, would not be fully understood until the work of Sadi Carnot (1796 – 1832).----------While in Kilmarnock, he collaborated with another inventor, Thomas Morton, who provided workshop facilities for Stirling's research. Both men were interested in astronomy, and having learnt from Morton how to grind lenses, Stirling invented several optical instruments.Robert, together with his brother James an engineer, took out several further patents for improvements to the air engine and in the 1840s James built a large air engine driving all the machinery at his Dundee Foundry Company.In a letter of 1876, Robert Stirling acknowledged the importance of Henry Bessemer's new invention – the Bessemer process for the manufacture of steel – which made steam engines safer and threatened to make the air engine obsolete. However, he also expressed a hope that the new steel would improve the performance of air engines.