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History of the Steam Engine. In The Beginning . *The history of the steam engine stretches back as far as the first century AD *The first recorded rudimentary steam engine being the aeolipile described by Greek mathematician Heron of Alexandria.

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in the beginning
In The Beginning

*The history of the steam engine stretches back as far as the first century AD

*The first recorded rudimentary steam engine being the aeolipile described by Greek mathematician Heron of Alexandria.

*The aeolipile rotates due to steam rising from the base of the mechanism escaping through the arms mounted on the sphere.

*No practical use was ever made of this effect.

the savery water pump
The Savery Water Pump
  • Following the invention by Denis Papin of the steam digester in 1679, and a first piston steam engine in 1690, the first practical steam-powered 'engine' was a water pump, developed in 1698 by Thomas Savery.
  • It proved only to have a limited lift height and was prone to boiler explosions, but it still received some use for mines and pumping stations.
the atmospheric engine
The Atmospheric Engine

*The first commercially successful engine did not appear until around 1712.

*Incorporating technologies discovered by Savery and Denis Papin, the atmospheric engine, invented by Thomas Newcomen, paved the way for the Industrial Revolution.

*Newcomen's engine was relatively inefficient, and in most cases was only used for pumping water.

*It worked by using the vacuum from condensing steam in a cylinder and was mainly employed for draining mine workings at depths hitherto impossible, but also for providing a reusable water supply for driving waterwheels at factories sited away from a suitable 'head'.

the watt steam engine
The Watt Steam Engine

*The next major step occurred in 1775 when James Watt developed an improved version of Newcomen's engine, with a separate condenser.

*Watt's engine used 75% less coal than Newcomen's, and was hence much cheaper to run.

*Watt proceeded to develop his engine further, modifying it to provide a rotary motion suitable for driving factory machinery.

*This enabled factories to be sited away from rivers, and further accelerated the pace of the Industrial Revolution.

*Newcomen's and Watt's early engines were "atmospheric", meaning that they were powered by the vacuum generated by condensing steam instead of the pressure of expanding steam. *Cylinders had to be large, as the only usable force acting on them was atmospheric pressure.

*Steam was only used to compensate for the atmosphere allowing the piston to move back to its starting position.

steam power in the present
Steam Power in the Present

*Around 1800, Richard Trevithick introduced engines using high-pressure steam.

These were much more powerful than previous engines and could be made small enough for transport applications.

*Thereafter, technological developments and improvements in manufacturing techniques (partly brought about by the adoption of the steam engine as a power source) resulted in the design of more efficient engines that could be smaller, faster, or more powerful, depending on the intended application.

*Steam engines remained the dominant source of power well into the 20th century, when advances in the design of electric motors and internal combustion engines gradually resulted in the vast majority of reciprocating steam engines being replaced in commercial usage

*This brought about the ascendancy of steam turbines in power generation.

*The use of turbine engines is most commonly found aboard all nuclear powered Navy vessels.

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