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Steam Engine

Updated November 1, 2018

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Steam Engine essay

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Steam Engine The steam engine was an engine powered by steam. It provided an important source of power independently. The steam engine played a major role in manufacturing and transportation during the Industrial Revolution.

The challenge of improving the steam engine was the beginning of the science of thermodynamics. The steam engine was a very important invention. Steam can be made at any time simply by boiling water, so it is more dependable than wind or water energy (Norbeck 34-36). The heating and cooling of steam in cylinder causes pistons to move up and down. The simplest of a steam engine is used as a boiler.

This was a common household heating system. The efficiency of the steam engine was very low; there fore they were later replaced by steam turbines. The first piston engine was invented in 1690 by a French inventor named Denis Papin and was used for pumping water. Why not find a way to use heat energy (Garrat 12).

It had a single cylinder that operated as a boiler; a small amount of water was added and heated to form steam. The steam raised the piston in the cylinder, after it was raised the heat was removed, the steam condensed and the air pressure on the upper side forced the piston down. In 1705 Thomas Newcomen invented the first practical steam engine. Steam operates the engine by a slide directing steam from on one side of the piston to the other.

As the piston moves, the piston rod turns the flywheel half a turn. The steam engine doesnt create power, I t uses steam to change heat energy released by burning fuel into mechanical energy. Steam engines are considered to be external combustion engine because, the fuel is burned outside of the cylinders. An example of internal combustion engine is an automobile. The power is provided by the rapid burning of gasoline inside the cylinders, which is ignited by the spark plug. The explosion inside the cylinder wall causes the pistion to go down and turning a shaft.

Thomas Newcomen invented the first steam engine in 1705 although it wasnt very efficient; it was used for pumping water for coal mines. James Watt improved Newcomen’s engine in the 1760s. He produced the first type of double acting engine. One after another hand operations were replaced by machines (Lipkin).

In a compound engine, steam in high pressure is used in one cylinder and then, after it has expanded and lessened in pressure, it is piped to another cylinder, in which it expands further. The first compound engine used a two-cylinder type but later other types of compound engines used triple and even quadruple cylinders. The advantage of compounding two or more cylinders is that less energy is lost in heating the cylinder walls, as a result, the engine is more efficient. Further improvements to the steam engine lead to the uniflow engine. The piston itself is a valve, and the cylinder remains at a constant temperature while operating.

In the uniflow engine steam moves in only one direction, it has two inlet ports and one outlet port. This was a large engine, and was used mainly in big operations; it also was a very expensive engine compared to other engines. This type of engine was a very efficient use of high-pressure steam. Steam turbines produce a rotary motion; it works the same way as a water turbine, except its energy comes from expanding steam. It turns a set of main rotating blades on a wheel. Steam turbines rotate very fast and have no vibrations, unlike the back and forth motion of pistons.

Steam engines work great in steam ships, and electric power plants. The flywheel turns at the end of the piston shaft. It was made of heavy metal cast-iron, so it helped eliminate power surges to the generator and, also provides a uniform flow of power. Since the steam engine was invented we have came along way with engines. Now we are making power by nuclear power plants and things have become much more industrialized. We are always looking for new ideas and ways to improve energy efficiency.

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Steam Engine. (2018, Nov 21). Retrieved from