History of Steam Engines
Inventors: Thomas Savery,
Thomas Newcomen, James Watt
Savery (1650-1715) Thomas Savery was an English military
engineer and inventor who in 1698, patented the first crude steam
based on Denis Papin's Digester or pressure cooker of 1679.
Thomas Savery had
been working on solving the problem of pumping water out of coal mines, his machine
consisted of a closed vessel filled with water into which steam under pressure
was introduced. This forced the water upwards and out of the mine shaft.
Then a cold water sprinkler was used to condense the steam. This created
a vacuum which sucked more water out of the mine shaft through a bottom
Thomas Savery later worked with Thomas Newcomen on the atmospheric steam
engine. Among Savery's other inventions was an odometer
for ships, a device that measured distance traveled.
Illustration of Thomas
Savery's Engine circa 1698
Savery - Biography of Thomas Savery and a description the introduction of
his engine to the public
Illustration of Thomas Newcomen's Engine circa
Thomas Newcomen was an English blacksmith,
who invented the atmospheric steam engine, an improvement over Thomas Slavery's
The Newcomen steam engine used the force of atmospheric pressure
to do the work. Thomas Newcomen's engine pumped steam into a cylinder.
The steam was then condensed by cold water which created a vacuum on the
inside of the cylinder. The resulting atmospheric pressure operated a piston,
creating downward strokes. In Newcomen's engine the intensity of pressure
was not limited by the pressure of the steam, unlike what Thomas Savery
had patented in 1698.
In 1712, Thomas Newcomen together with John Calley built
their first engine on top of a water filled mine shaft and used it to pump
water out of the mine. The Newcomen engine was the
predecessor to the Watt engine and it was one of the most interesting pieces
of technology developed during the 1700's.
James Watt was a Scottish inventor
and mechanical engineer, born in Greenock, who was renowned for his improvements
of the steam engine. In 1765, James Watt while working
for the University of Glasgow was assigned the task of repairing a Newcomen
engine, which was deemed inefficient but the best steam engine of its time.
That started the inventor to work on several improvements to Newcomen's
Most notable was Watt's 1769 patent for a separate condenser connected
to a cylinder by a valve. Unlike Newcomen's engine, Watt's design had a condenser
be cool while the cylinder was hot. Watt's engine soon became the dominant
design for all modern steam engines and helped bring about the Industrial
A unit of power called the Watt was
named after James Watt. the Watt symbol is W, and it is equal to 1/746
of a horsepower, or one Volt times one Amp.
Steam Turbine - Charles Parsons The idea of the steam engine, which
Charles Parsons patented, was not a new one. Hero of Alexandria
had demonstrated a crude form of steam turbine around 130 BC. However, Charles
Parsons patented his new steam turbine engine on April 1884 and immediately used
the engine to drive
an electrical generator, which he also designed.
Benjamin Franklin Tibbets Canadian, Benjamin Franklin Tibbets
invented the world's first practical compound marine engine, used in the
steamer "Reindeer." The Reindeer was the fastest steamer in the 1820's.