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Discover what made the future: The Steam Engine

James Watt took on the role of seasoned marketer when he marketed his machine by how many horses would be needed to produce the energy his engine could provide… coining the term ‘horsepower’ in the process.

The picture of the Industrial Revolution is often presented in the form of a coal covered worker endlessly feeding a furnace. The purpose of this hard work was, in fact, the Steam Engine.

The Steam Engine uses heat to create steam that is harnessed to do mechanical work. Mechanical work refers to the functioning of pistons that are pushed up and down or back and forth by steam which, aided by a flywheel and rod – patented by James Pickard, turn rotational force into movement.

The early ADs saw a very rudimentary steam-powered device invented without much practical use. Later on, Thomas Savery invented a watering pump using steam power but the first real move came in the early 1700s by Thomas Newcomen that produced continuous power to a machine.

The steam engine made ships with sails obsolete and gave the Industrial Revolution the push it needed. Factories no longer needed to be situated along waterways to harness energy – it could now be produced right there, in the factory.

Jacob Leupold later conceptualised a two-cylinder engine with two heavy pistons doing the work through a shared rotary valve. From here, steam vehicles were born using an external combustion engine which would lead to the internal combustion engine’s discovery. Funnily enough, they weren’t allowed on the road at all initially.

|“Travelling is meant to be leisurely, to give a man time to think before he gets to wherever he’s going. It isn’t natural for a man to move that fast. Had that been what God intended, we all would have been born with wings.”| A quote from a novel about the first steam train trip – the train was probably going close to 20km/h at this time – how times have changed.

The first steam-powered train trip happened in Wales in 1804.

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