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A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.

Steam engines are external combustion engines,[1] where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be used. Water turns to steam in a boiler and reaches a high pressure. When expanded through pistons or turbines, mechanical work is done. The reduced-pressure steam is then condensed, and it is pumped back into the boiler. The ideal thermodynamic cycle used to analyze this process is called the Rankine cycle. Some practical steam engines discard the low-pressure steam instead of condensing it for reuse. The idea of using boiling water to produce mechanical motion has a long history, going back about 2,000 years. Early devices were not practical power producers, but more advanced designs producing usable power have become a major source of mechanical power over the last 300 years, beginning with applications for removing water from mines using vacuum engines. Subsequent developments used pressurized steam and converted linear to rotational motion which enabled the powering of a wide range of manufacturing machinery. These engines could be sited anywhere that water and coal or wood fuel could be obtained, whereas previous installations were limited to locations where water wheels or windmills could be used. Significantly, this power source would later be applied to vehicles such as steam tractors and railway locomotives. The steam engine was a critical component of the Industrial Revolution, providing the prime mover for modern mass-production manufacturing methods. Modern steam turbines generate about 90% of the electric power in the United States using a variety of heat sources.[2] In general usage, the term 'steam engine' can refer to integrated steam plants such as railway steam locomotives and portable engines, or may refer to the machinery alone, as in the beam engine and stationary steam engine. Specialized devices such as steam hammers and steam pile drivers are dependent on steam supplied from a separate boiler.

The History of Steam Engines

Inventors: Thomas Savery, Thomas Newcomen, James Watt Thomas Savery (1650-1715) Thomas Savery was an English military engineer and inventor who in 1698, patented the first crude steam engine, 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

That started the inventor to work on several improvements to Newcomen's design. who invented the atmospheric steam engine.out of the mine shaft. Then a cold water sprinkler was used to condense the steam. 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 (1736-1819) Engraving of James Watt James Watt was a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer. an improvement over Thomas Slavery's previous design. a device that measured distance traveled. Unlike Newcomen's engine. Thomas Savery later worked with Thomas Newcomen on the atmospheric steam engine. Illustration of Thomas Savery's Engine circa 1698   Thomas Savery . 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 resulting atmospheric pressure operated a piston. The Newcomen steam engine used the force of atmospheric pressure to do the work. In Newcomen's engine the intensity of pressure was not limited by the pressure of the steam. Thomas Newcomen's engine pumped steam into a cylinder.Biography of Thomas Savery and a description the introduction of his engine to the public An Engine To Raise Water By Fire . creating downward strokes. The steam was then condensed by cold water which created a vacuum on the inside of the cylinder. In 1765. unlike what Thomas Savery had patented in 1698. James Watt while working for the University of Glasgow was assigned the task of repairing a Newcomen engine.By Thomas Savery Drawing of Thomas Savery Thomas Newcomen (1663-1729) Illustration of Thomas Newcomen's Engine circa 1712 Thomas Newcomen was an English blacksmith. Among Savery's other inventions was an odometer for ships. who was renowned for his improvements of the steam engine. born in Greenock. which was deemed inefficient but the best steam engine of its time. Most notable was Watt's 1769 patent for a separate condenser connected to a cylinder by a valve. Watt's design had a condenser that could be cool while . This created a vacuum which sucked more water out of the mine shaft through a bottom valve. In 1712.

The heat is supplied externally to a closed loop. This cycle generates about 90% of all electric power used throughout the world. including virtually all solar thermal. and it is equal to 1/746 of a horsepower. The working fluid in a Rankine cycle follows a closed loop and is reused constantly. its "duty". abundance. The best examples of Newcomen designs had a duty of about 7 million. as well as its thermodynamic properties. The Rankine cycle is sometimes referred to as a practical Carnot cycle because. In this cycle a pump is also used to pressurize the working fluid received from the condenser as a liquid instead of as a gas. The main difference is that heat addition (in the boiler) and rejection (in the condenser) are isobaric (constant pressure) in the Rankine cycle and isothermal (constant temperature) in the theoretical Carnot cycle. and low cost. This was a three-fold improvement over the average Newcomen design.the cylinder was hot. Duty is the number of foot-pounds of work delivered by burning one bushel (94 pounds) of coal.[10] . The Rankine cycle is a cycle that converts heat into work. coal and nuclear power plants. The concept of duty was first introduced by Watt in order to illustrate how much more efficient his engines were over the earlier Newcomen designs. such as non-toxic and unreactive chemistry. the Watt symbol is W. but averaged about 17. biomass. Watt's original lowpressure designs were able to deliver duty as high as 25 million. but most were closer to 5 million. when an efficient turbine is used. While many substances could be used in the Rankine cycle. water is usually the fluid of choice due to its favourable properties. A unit of power called the Watt was named after James Watt. Early Watt engines equipped with high-pressure steam improved this to 65 million. the TS diagram begins to resemble the Carnot cycle. It is also useful to introduce the historical measure of a steam engine's energy efficiency. or one Volt times one Amp. It is named after William John Macquorn Rankine. Pumping the working fluid through the cycle as a liquid requires a very small fraction of the energy needed to transport it as compared to compressing the working fluid as a gas in a compressor (as in the Carnot cycle). a Scottish polymath. which in steam engines contains water and steam. Watt's engine soon became the dominant design for all modern steam engines and helped bring about the Industrial Revolution. The steam cycle The Rankine cycle is the fundamental thermodynamic underpinning of the steam engine.