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Impact of Steam Engines

Steam engine is among the most essential inventions accomplished by humanity. As an effective source of energy, it profoundly altered the character of civilizations, offered brand-new motivation and instructions to their development and established the foundation for the new structure of development on which the modern society finds itself conveniently ensconced. Early Steam Engine: 1600 A. D to 1800 A. D Not entering discussion of whether industrialization encouraged advancement of steam engines or steam engines encouraged industrialization; the noteworthy problem is that both intricately impacted each other.

There is no doubt that Western quests and expeditions in new world and their rising business interests of in newly discovered lands had actually produced need for more extensive and efficient power sources that could help to carry out work at mammoth scale, something not possible through male, animal or plant energy sources. England, with its substantial fabric market, was amongst the pioneering nations in advancement and innovation of steam engines on business scale. The pushing necessity of massive power can be counted as the main instruments behind refinement and advancement of steam innovation.

One of the major and immediate issues worrying English markets was taking water out from coal-mines. Coal was already identified as a key source of energy, but coal miners often needed to experience the problem of water seepage in the deep set mines, that stalled their work and typically resulted in significant loss of human lives. To resolve the issue of clearing the mines from water, English Engineer Thomas Savery designed the first of the commercially applicable and practical steam engines in 1686, that might be deployed for massive elimination of water.

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The engine, called as fire-machine utilized the concept of vacuum creation to lift water from mines. This steam engine was further improved in 1712 by Thomas Newcomen and it was a definite success in providing sufficient power to clear mines from water, significantly increasing the productivity and output of coal mines to offer energy for the energy starving English markets. The steam engine likewise benefited society in several ways and it was used to supply water to towns and nation homes.

Although there were dangers of explosions and high fuel consumption in the early 18th century, continued improvement in design and engineering sorted them out and by 1770, hundreds of steam engines were fully functional across England and rest of Europe in lifting water from mines and pits and were used in industrial units in every possible process where a single engine was able to meet the power requirements. James Watt and Steam power revolution Until 1770, steam engines were operating on their earlier designing and engineering principles, without incorporating any additional feature.

They were indeed effective in water uplifting, but had limited use form direct industrial point of view. This situation changed when James Watt changed the Savery- Newcomen engine in many functional ways, inventing and adding a whole range of new features in the older version to create a much more powerful, modern, and fuel efficient steam engine that could be directly used in industries to drive factory, rotary machines and operate mills.. James Watt’s engine was 5 times more powerful than Newcomen engine.

The steam engine invented by James Watt was successfully deployed by English businessman Matthew Boulton across almost every sphere of industrial operation by 1800 with resounding success and ushered in the industrial revolution to permanently change the dynamics of human society. From the point of view of design and engineering, the engine of James Watt had marked the culmination point in evolution of steam engines and the later years saw widening of their application range and scope

The changes in the steam engine introduced by James Watt made it an extremely practical, feasible, applicable and potent source of power and steam engine proliferated every aspect of society. In industry it transformed the pace of work and helped to initiate projects on such scales that were not possible to conceive earlier. Steam engine revolutionized contemporary sea seaport by eliminating mast base ships and introduced powerful steam engines based ships that dominated the sea transport well into 20th century.

Steam Engine and the Industrial Revolution The works of many great engineers and mechanics such as Savery, Morland and James Watt had developed steam engine to near perfection and set the stage for the age of stupendous developments and momentous achievements that transformed the very body and soul of the world. Steam engine became the basis for the entire mechanized industrial world, operating and moving its every nut and bolt and rightly earning its claim to be among most important inventions in the history of mankind.

By 1825 the applications of steam engine had moved much ahead than their earlier application of lifting water and draining mines, and yet these two were fundamental to usher in the second stage applications. In the second stage steam engine was applied in every work that required huge effort and manual labor, expanding existing industries and opening up new industries by hundreds and thousands, all based on wonderful invention called steam engine. Steam engine had already grown out of English dominion and mechanics in continental Europe, America and all over the world were busy in applying its power for useful purposes.

The power of steam engine unleashed human power of dreams and led to establishment of many great industries and companies, many of which became the giant corporations subsequently. The discussion on application of steam engine shall be incomplete without mentioning transport, especially sea and rail transport. By 1830 every workable steam engine was put in the industrial practices and great efforts were being invested in direction of motorized surface transport, and water transport to utilize the power of steam engine.

These efforts resulted in technological breakthrough in design of steam engines that revolutionized sea transport, and were exclusively responsible for very invention of railways and motorized surface transport. Steam engine based transport vehicles rapidly replaced the horses driven carriages, greatly speeding up movement in the city, through the nation, across continents and over the world. The steam engine powered railway locomotives made possible mass transportation of people and goods that further contributed towards rapid pace of industrialization, urbanization and growth and development and accumulation of great wealth.

As a matter of fact England, America and many countries of Western Europe owe their respective rise to great power and status principally on account of steam engines. Modern Period With discovery of fossil fuels and invention of electricity the world of 20th later 20th century saw a general migration from steam technology to electricity and fossil fuels based technology in machines and mechanized transport. Today steam engines have been, for all practical purposes, completely replaced by these new technologies.

Yet, their significance and role in being the premier agents of actualizing industrial revolution and transforming the fundamental character of world remains undisputed.


Robert H. Thurston. A History of the Growth of Steam Engine. 18. 07. 2007 http://www. history. rochester. edu/steam/thurston/1878/index. html Carl Lira. Brief history of Steam Engines. Accessed online on 18. 07. 2007. http://www. egr. msu. edu/~lira/supp/steam/.

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Impact of Steam Engines. (2017, Apr 23). Retrieved from

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