Thomas Newcomen (1664-1729)

Thomas Newcomen

1664 He was born in February at Darmouth (Devonshire), England, to a merchant family and baptised at St. Saviour's Church on 24 February. He was an English inventor who created the first practical steam engine for pumping water, the Newcomen steam engine. Together with Savery, who had got a patent for a steam car that he had imagined, he created a car project based on the same fundamental like Papin. Newcomen-Savery car had a cylinder linked to the boiler through a pipe that had a tap which must have been opened or closed according to the piston that was up or down in its race, while in case of Papin’s car the steam was born inside of the cylinder itself and must have exposed alternatively to fire and must have cooled, fact that allowed a very slowly movement rhythm to the piston. It was Newcomen’s idea. This accomplishment was already an important improvement. The condensation of the steam that auctioned was done by cool water current that flew through the annular space around the cylinder. The idea of steam condensation by injecting a small quantity of water, to inferior side of cylinder, came later because of an event.

In order to occlude the openings that could be between piston and cylinder, Newcomen covered them by a water layer. But one day, because of a piston poorly constructed than all the others, the opening was big enough to allow a big quantity of water to cross. Soon after this, the steam pressure decreased a lot under the piston. So, the water from the base of cylinder hurried the steam condensation and the car started to work. This phenomenon’s study led Newcomen to the complete removal of external cooling and to use a sprinkler system inside the cylinder, at the right moment, in order to lower the piston.

1729 On the 5th of August, Thomas Newcomen passed away.

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