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Philips went on to develop experimental Stirling engines for a wide variety of applications and continued to work in the field until the late 1970s, but only achieved any commercial success with the 'reversed Stirling engine' cryocooler. They did however take out a large number of patents and amass a wealth of information relating to Stirling engine technology which was subsequently licensed to other companies forming the basis of much of the development work in the modern era[27].

Stirling Engine Free-piston engines

Various Free-Piston Stirling ConfigurationsIn the early 1960s Professor W. T. Beale while at Ohio University, invented a free-piston version of the Stirling engine in order to overcome the intractable difficulty of effectively lubricating the crank mechanism of typical Stirling engines [28]. While the invention of the basic free-piston Stirling engine is generally attributed to Beale, independent inventions of similar types of engines were made by E H Cooke-Yarborough and C West at the Harwell Laboratories of the UKAERE [29][30][31][32]. G M Benson has also made important early contributions and has patented many novel free-piston configurations [33][34].

What appears to be the first mention of a Stirling cycle machine using freely moving components is a British patent disclosure in 1876 [35]. This machine was envisaged as a refrigerator (i.e., the so-called reversed Stirling cycle) and the piston was therefore driven externally. The very first consumer product to utilize a free-piston Stirling device was a portable refrigerator manufactured by Twinbird Corporation of Japan and offered in the US by Coleman in 2004.