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History of the Engine of Steam

  • Date Submitted: 05/01/2011 07:08 AM
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The history of the steam engine stretches back as far as the 1st century AD; the first recorded rudimentary steam engine being the aeolipile described by Hero of Alexandria.[1] Over a millennium after Hero's (or "Heron's") experiments, a number of steam-powered devices were experimented with or proposed, but it was not until 1712 that a commercially successful steam engine was finally developed, Thomas Newcomen's atmospheric engine. During the industrial revolution, steam engines became the dominant source of power and remained so into the early decades of the 20th century, when advances in the design of the electric motor and the internal combustion engine resulted in the rapid replacement of the steam engine by these technologies. However, the steam turbine, an alternative form of steam engine, has become the most common method by which electrical power generators are driven. Investigations are being made into the practicalities of reviving the reciprocating steam engine as the basis for a new wave of 'advanced steam technology' .Contents [hide]
1 Precursors
1.1 Early uses of steam power
1.2 Cylinders
1.3 The first industrial engines
2 Low-pressure engines
2.1 Newcomen "atmospheric" engine
2.2 Polzunov's engine
2.3 Watt's separate condenser
2.4 Watt double-acting and rotative engines
3 High-pressure engines
3.1 The Cornish engine and compounding
4 Later development
5 References
6 Bibliography
7 Further reading

Early uses of steam power
See also: Aeolipile and Steam jack


The earliest known rudimentary steam engine and reaction steam turbine, the aeolipile, is described by a Greek mathematician and engineer named Hero of Alexandria (Heron) in 1st century Roman Egypt, as recorded in his manuscript Spiritalia seu Pneumatica.[2][3] Steam ejected tangentially from nozzles caused a pivoted ball to rotate. Its thermal efficiency was low. This suggests that the conversion of steam pressure into mechanical...


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