Who Invented Steam Engine? Types, Examples and Applications

A steam engine is an engine that can perform a mechanical task using steam as its working fluid.

A British engineer and inventor, Thomas Savery, invented a steam-powered device to pump groundwater from mines. Thus, he has considered the inventor of the first steam-powered device that was used commercially.

The steam engine uses the force of steam pressure to push a certain piston back and forth inside a particular cylinder. Steam engines are usually external combustion engines, where the functioning fluid is separated from the combustion elements.

Generally, the term steam engine can refer to either the piston or turbine machinery, like in the stationary steam engine and bean engine, or may refer to complete steam plants, like portable engines or railway steam locomotives.

Types Of Steam Engines

Steam engines are roughly classified into three types according to their speeds, such as:

High-speed steam engine.

Medium-speed steam engine.

Slow-speed steam engine.

Examples of Steam Engines

Steam engines were used as the main mover in locomotives, pumps, traction engines, steam lorries, steamships, and many other types of road vehicles. Moreover, the steam engine was used in many industries as well.

Vacuum engines:

Early steam engines, like Watt’s “condensing” engines, worked on the principle of vacuum and hence, were known as vacuum engines. Those engines operated by admitting low-pressure steam into a specific chamber and closing the inlet valve.

High-pressure engines:

In this kind of engine, steam is raised in a certain boiler to a high temperature and pressure. After some time, the major advance in high-pressure steam engines was the application of double-acting pistons.

Compound engine:

In this steam engine, high-pressure steam from the boiler expands in a high-pressure cylinder and then enters one or more lower-pressure cylinders.

Multiple expansion engine:

It is a reasonable extension of the compound engine that has increased efficiency.

Uniflow engine:

This is a steam engine where the steam flows in one direction only in each half of the cylinder.

Turbine engines:

This steam engine consisted of an alternating series of rotating discs mounted on a rotor and static discs fixed to the stators.

Jet type:

It was invented by engineer Alan Burns that uses high-pressure steam to draw in water and expel it at high speed.

Vehicle engines:

This kind of steam engine is used in different vehicles, such as steam cars, steam rollers, steam lorries, traction engines, etc.

Rotary steam engines:

These steam engines use a mechanism that is based on a pistonless rotary engine.

Applications Of Steam Engines

There are different types of applications for the steam engine. Most of those have been changing over time. A steam engine is crucial in different fields, like industries, transport, water pumping, and many more. Steam engines can be used in various situations, such as:

Water Pumping Stations: Previously, steam engines were used to pump a large amount of water from the mines.

Industrial Applications: In many industries, various machinery, like hydraulic wheels and windmills, were powered by the mechanical energy provided by a steam engine.

Transportation: Steam engines were used in transportation, especially in steam locomotive engines and steamboats.

Production Of Electricity: Another significant application of the steam engine is electricity production. With the help of current technology, thermal energy can be converted into electrical energy.

Railway Industry: Previously, public railway lines used steam locomotives. Today, there is still one steam vehicle operating in the United States.

Therefore, we have provided all the important details regarding a steam engine that can greatly benefit you.

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