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An external combustion engine. Also known as a Hot Air Engine. The Stirling engine was invented in 1816 by a Scotch clergyman, Robert Stirling, as a competing technology to the steam engine. Stirling engines work by subsequently heating and cooling a gas inside a closed volume. As the gas is heated it expands and as it is cooled it contracts. This expansion and contraction works forces a working piston which in turn drives a crankshaft. A Stirling cycle has two pistons: one that drives the crankshaft known as the power piston and one that moves the gas between the hot and cold ends of a cylinder known as the displacer piston.