Polzunov, the Inventor of the Steam Engine A steam engine to meet industrial requirements was first put into operation in a far-away Siberian town, Barnaul, in August, 1766. That first steam "fire" engine had been invented and constructed by Polzunov, a self-taught man, the son of a Russian soldier.
Having been taken on as a mechanical apprentice when a boy of 14, he got only 50 kopecks a month for his hard work. Polzunov worked at many a Ural plant, and in a short period of time he became an outstanding specialist in the metallurgical industry.
He was quite familiar with the technical problems of his day and among them with those of power engineering which was based on water wheels. In spite of the fact that the water wheels constructed by Russian specialists were the best in the world, their use at the time had one great disadvantage. They required water and because of it works and factories had to be built far from raw material sources.
Polzunov wanted to put an end to this dependence upon water. He had great experience as well as a good knowledge of theory. Nevertheless, he enlarged both his practical experience and his theoretical knowledge thanks to his experiments on the analyses of water and steam properties. As a result of his steady scientific research, Polzunov wor
Polzunov wanted to put an end to this dependence upon water. He had great experience as well as a good knowledge of theory. Nevertheless, he enlarged both his practical experience and his theoretical knowledge thanks to his experiments on the analyses of water and steam properties. As a result of his steady scientific research, Polzunov wor ked out the design of the first fire-operated machine that could be used instead of the water wheels.
The construction of this engine involved difficulties and hardships due to lack of qualified assistants, lack of the necessary instruments and, in general, completes lack of help and support. Polzunov had to do almost everything with his own hands. He did all the designing and drawing. In addition to it, he created the required instruments and machine parts and made them. Such hard conditions of work completely ruined his health but he did not stop working.
At last, all the parts were assembled (there were about 110, besides the boiler), and the engine was quite ready to be put into operation. It was a machine working on steam pressure with two cylinders used by Polzunov in order to provide continuous action. The first test proved to be a success. However, Polzunov did not live to see the results of his work. He died in poverty on May 27, 1766.
Later on, in the course of the industrial revolution in England, a number of inventors designed steam engines with a view to meeting the urgent demand for these machines. A prominent place among these early inventors is occupied by James Watt thanks to whom the steam engine found its further development.
He decided correctly that the cylinder, instead of being cooled after each stroke, should be insulated and kept hot. The condensing of the steam was to take place in a condenser, an enclosed chamber, distinct from the cylinder itself. In such a manner the cylinder remained hot when the condenser was cooled and the steam pressures in both were about equal.
In 1784 Watt constructed his universal double-acting steam engine with a separate condenser, centrifugal governor, and other improvements which made the steam engine, once for all, a commercial success.
By 1800 there had been some 500 Watt engines in operation. Along with the new mechanisms for transmitting power, the steam engine gradually displaced both human labor and the water wheel in many industrial operations.
EXERCISES I. Answer the following questions: 1. When was the first steam engine put into operation? 2. Who invented the steam "fire" engine? 3. By whom was the first steam engine invented and constructed? 4. What was Polzunov? 5. Where was Polzunov born? 6. Where were the best water wheels constructed? 7. What disadvantage had the water wheels constructed by Russian specialists? 8. What design did Polzunov work out? 9. Who occupies a prominent place among the early inventors of the steam engine? 10. What kind of engine did Watt construct? 11. What did the steam engine gradually displace?
II. Translate the following sentences, paying attention to the words in bold type: 1. The first steam engine was both invented and constructed by Polzunov. 2. Polzunov and Watt both constructed steam engines. 3. If the water is heated in a closed vessel, the temperature and the pressure both rise. 4. Boiling occurs when vapor is formed both at the bottom of the vessel and at the top. 5. Polzunov had both great experience and a good knowledge of theory. 6. Both water vapor and steam are known to be invisible.