Invention of the Steam Engine

Topics: Industrial Revolution, Steam engine, Watt steam engine Pages: 5 (1622 words) Published: October 26, 2008

Mankind’s interrelation with manufacturing systems has a long history. Nowadays we see manufacturing systems and their applications as systems in which goods are produced and delivered to the suitable places where we can obtain them. We are conscious of the fact that everything we consume or obtain is produced at some facilities. We are also aware of the fact that many components involve at these processes such as laborers, capital, and machines. Nevertheless, majority of people might not realize how these processes have developed all along this time and changed our daily lives surprisingly. Manufacturing, as a crucial part of the industry, has always had overwhelming impacts on our life habits, societal structures and also started new eras. This is why we need to gain more knowledge about the dynamics beneath all that system. Political, scientific, economic or social steps that are taken by civilizations have an impact on how we produce goods and on how we live our very daily lives. Because this is the real evolution of man and we still are a part of it.

Having commented on how we are so much interlaced with the true nature of manufacturing, our intention should be focusing on the turning points in the history of invention of the steam engine and we shall understand the evolution in the industry and particularly discover the invention of the advanced steam engine developed by James Watt in eighteenth century and its effect on even today’s manufacturing practices and societal structures.

Development of the steam engine can be separated into three fundamental milestones, namely the steam engine was developed over a period of about a hundred years by three British inventors. “The first crude steam powered machine was built by Thomas Savery, of England, in 1698. Savery built his machine to help pump water out of coal mines. This machine was so simple that it had no moving parts. It also used up lots and lots of coal just to pump a small quantity of water.” (Phil Shapiro) Nevertheless, Thomas Savery became the first man to produce a workable apparatus for raising water. In detail, “Savery's apparatus was able to draw water up by suction to a height of approximately twenty-six to twenty-eight feet. The water was able to reach this height due to atmospheric pressure and the condensation of steam within the closed vessel. Savery was the first to make the necessary connection between steam power and atmospheric pressure. Without adding in atmospheric pressure, steam power may have never been harnessed.” (Robert H. Thurston) Savery became the first to put the method of raising water by fire to use for draining mines. To say it was a steam engine that would be to stretch the world "engine" far beyond its current meaning. However, it would be fair to say that Savery was the first person to find a practical way of using steam to perform useful work.

The next milestone in the history of the steam engine was a result of the work of Thomas Newcomen, who was not quickly recognized for his achievements or contributions to the steam engine. His engine was introduced in 1712 and was basically a combination of the boiler used in Savery's engine with a cylinder and pump. The Newcomen model was unlike other engines up to this time. It was the first engine that was actually self acting. “The make up of the engine went a little something like this. The cylinder housed a piston that was forced to move up and down due to atmospheric pressure and steam pressure. There was a boiler that produced the steam and a cock that allowed a jet of cold water to condense the steam and vary the pressure within the engine. As the piston was forced up and down the handle of an attached lever was forced to move as well. This apparatus was used to successfully raise water from mines.”(i) Newcomen's engine was so successful that it was still being used in the twentieth century. Modern day steam engines can easily be...
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