Steam Engine

An engine that uses steam to produce useful work.


Replica of Richard Trevithick engine.

The first steam locomotive was built in 1803 by Richard Trevithick. Sadly he was ahead of his time and the locomotives he built were unreliable or too heavy for the cast iron rails on which they ran.

The steam locomotive was the mainstay of the railway systems across the world until the 1960′s.


Fowler Plough Engine.

The traction engine was originally a development of the portable steam engine that consisted of a boiler and steam engine on wheels that was moved by horse.


Steam Engine Indicator Diagram

The pressure in the cylinder is plotted versus the cylinder volume. This was developed by James Watt and John Southern to improve the efficiency of the steam engine. The work done is the area within the red curve.


Historical Notes

  1. 50BC Steam engine invented by Heron of Alexandria.
  2. 1705 Thomas Newcomen invents a steam engine which uses both atmospheric pressure and low-pressure steam to pump water out of mines.
  3. 1769 Watt invented the modern steam engine.
  4. 1769 Nicolas Cugnot, a French military engineer, builds a steam tractor designed to pull artillery pieces. It was slow, clumsy and difficult to control and was not adopted.
  5. 1774 James Watt moves to Birmingham and enters a partnership with Matthew Boulton, designing and manufacturing steam engines for customers.
  6. 1785 James Watt's steam engine first used to power a cotton mill.
  7. 1803 Richard Trevithick constructs the first steam locomotive.
  8. 1845 William McNaught invents the compound steam engine.

See also: Atmospheric Engine, Boiler, Engine, External Combustion Engine, Gresley, Sir Nigel, Hero′s Engine, Murdock, William, Newcomen, Thomas, Rankine Cycle, Savery, Thomas, Steam, Steam Condenser, Steam Engine Indicator Diagram, Steam Turbine, Stephenson, George, Super Heated Steam, Trevithick, Richard, Watt, James.

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Subjects: Engines


Weblinks:
Keveney Animated Engines Animations of IC engines, steams engines and stirling engines.
International Association for the Properties of Water and Steam Properties of water and steam, particularly thermophysical properties and other aspects of high-temperature steam, water and aqueous mixtures that are relevant to thermal power cycles and other industrial applications.