The Steam Engine

July 1, 2012 | In: Car History

The steam engine is an engine with an external combustion, which transforms the thermic energy of the steam into movement. But what are the principles?

First, the pressurized steam is produced in a steam generator (a place with boiling water) and after that it goes in a cylinder chamber, where the steam pushes a piston. That piston is moved up and down and is used for different purposes.

The steam engine dominated transportation in the period of the Industrial Revolution, and made its way until the first part of the 20th century, being used on ships, trains, all sort of mechanical equipment and even cars. In the following years, it was successfully replaced by the internal combustion engine and the electrical one.

But the first steam engine was invented, believe it or not, 2100 years ago, by Heron of Alexandria. His invention was an engineering masterpiece, but didn’t have any practical use.

But in 1769, the Frenchman Denis Papin had the idea of transforming the piston pump into a thermical machine. Sadly, he died of poverty and didn’t have the opportunity to make his dreams possible.

In 1698 Thomas Savery from England designed the first steam engine, for the purpose of pumping water out of the mines, but the only water it pumped was that from the English Castles.

The first real steam engine was built in 1712 by Thomas Newcomen, an engineer from Cornwall. His motor had an arm that pumped water with a frequency of 16 per minute. In 1776, James Watt was the one who came with major improvements to this motor and made possible for it to be used in various places.

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