Steam Engines Essay, Research Paper
The steam engine was arguably the most important machine technology in the Industrial Revolution. The steam engine is a mechanical device that was used to transfer the energy of steam into mechanical energy. This was
used for a wide variety of applications, including propulsion and generating electricity. The basic principle of a steam engine involves transforming the heat energy of steam into mechanical energy. This is done by permitting the steam to
expand and cool inside a cylinder with a movable piston. The steam that is used for power and heating purposes is called a boiler. At it s simplest form, the boiler is a closed vessel containing water, which is heated by a flame so that the
water turns to steam. The steam generating plants used for power are much more complex in design.
The use of steam for power was being experimented with prior to the 18th century. As early as 1689, English engineer Thomas Savery created a steam engine to pump water from mines. Another English engineer, Thomas
Newcomen, developed an improved version by 1712. James Watt, Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer, made the most significant improvements, allowing the steam engine to be used in many industrial settings, not just in mining.
Before Watt, early mills had run successfully with water power, but the factory had to be located in close proximity to the water. With the advancement of the steam engine, the factory could be located anywhere. After 1785, when a steam
engine was first installed in a cotton factory, steam began to replace water as power for the new machinery. Manufacturers could build factories closer to a labor supply and to markets.
In 1775, Watt and manufacturer Matthew Boulton formed an engine-building and engineering partnership. This partnership became one of the most important businesses of the Industrial Revolution. For much of the
British economy, Boulton & Watt served as a creative technical center. Not only did they solve technical problems, but they spread the solutions to other companies. Similar firms did the same thing in other industries, which were especially
important in the machine tool industry. This type of interaction between companies helped fuel the Industrial Revolution. The amount of research time and expense that each business had to spend working with its own resources was
reduced. The time that they saved could be used on developing new techniques and products. The technological advances of the Industrial Revolution happened much more quickly because of the shared information.
Steam engines found many uses in a variety of other industries, including steamboats and railroads. The development of the steam locomotive and steamship in the early 19th century made it possible to ship factory built
products to distant markets more rapidly and economically.
The large cities of the United States Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore also began to grow at an unprecedented rate. The canals and railroads that were built between West and East were important to their
growth. This gave them easier access to the products of the West. These new means of steam-driven transportation replaced the crude roads that were almost the only means of east to west travel in the first quarter of the 19th century.
Railroads included the Baltimore and Ohio, and the Mohawk and Hudson.