The Steam Engine adapted from mars acnet wnec edu/~grempel/ courses/wc2/lectures/industrial



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The Steam Engine

adapted from mars.acnet.wnec.edu/~grempel/ courses/wc2/lectures/industrialrev.html



The invention of a true steam engine was a landmark in the industrial development of Europe. The first modern steam engine was built by an engineer, Thomas Newcomen. The purpose of Newcomen’s engine, built in 1705, was to improve the pumping equipment used to remove water from tin and copper mines. Newcomen's idea was to put a vertical piston and cylinder at the end of a pump handle. He put steam in the cylinder and then condensed it with a spray of cold water; the vacuum created allowed atmospheric pressure to push the piston down. In 1763 James Watt, an instrument-maker for Glasgow University, began to make improvements on Newcomen's engine. He made it a reciprocating engine, thus changing it from an atmospheric to a true "steam engine." He also added a crank and flywheel to provide rotary motion. Within a very few years, entrepreneurs such as Josiah Wedgwood, Robert Fulton, and George Stephenson soon applied the steam engine to pottery manufacturing, ships, and railroad locomotives.
In 1774 the industrialist Michael Boulton took Watt into partnership, and their firm produced nearly five hundred engines before Watt's patent expired in 1800. Water power continued in use, but the factory was now liberated from the streamside. A Watt engine drove Robert Fulton's experimental steam vessel Clermont up the Hudson River in New York State in 1807. In 1814, the first steam powered railroad locomotive went into operation. Within fifty years, thousands of miles of railroad track had been laid in Europe and America.

Copy you questions and your answers on a separate sheet of paper.

  1. Which of the following was the most important source of power for the early Industrial Revolution?

  2. Which inventor made the first major improvements to the first steam engine?

  3. Who built the first steam powered vessel?

  4. The steam engine has been called the greatest invention of the Industrial Revolution. Do you agree or disagree? Explain.


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