Thomas Savery ( // ; c. 1650 – 1715) was an English inventor and engineer, born at Shilstone, a manor house near Modbury, Devon, England. He invented the first commercially used steam powered device, a steam pump which is often referred to as an "engine", although it is not technically an "engine". Savery's "engine" was a revolutionary method of pumping water, which solved the problem of mine drainage and made widespread public water supply practicable.
Savery became a military engineer, rising to the rank of Captain by 1702, and spent his free time performing experiments in mechanics. In 1696 he took out a patent for a machine for polishing glass or marble and another for "rowing of ships with greater ease and expedition than hitherto been done by any other" which involved paddle-wheels driven by a capstan and which was dismissed by the Admiralty following a negative report by the Surveyor of the Navy, Edmund Dummer.
Savery also worked for the Sick and Hurt Commissioners, contracting the supply of medicines to the Navy Stock Company, which was connected with the Society of Apothecaries. His duties on their behalf took him to Dartmouth, which is probably how he came into contact with Thomas Newcomen.
On 2 July 1698 Savery patented an early steam engine, "A new invention for raising of water and occasioning motion to all sorts of mill work by the impellent force of fire, which will be of great use and advantage for draining mines, serving towns with water, and for the working of all sorts of mills where they have not the benefit of water nor constant winds."He demonstrated it to the Royal Society on 14 June 1699. The patent had no illustrations or even description, but in 1702 Savery described the machine in his book The Miner's Friend; or, An Engine to Raise Water by Fire, in which he claimed that it could pump water out of mines.
Savery's engine had no piston, and no moving parts except from the taps. It was operated by first raising steam in the boiler; the steam was then admitted to one of the first working vessels, allowing it to blow out through a downpipe into the water that was to be raised. When the system was hot and therefore full of steam the tap between the boiler and the working vessel was shut, and if necessary the outside of the vessel was cooled. This made the steam inside it condense, creating a partial vacuum, and atmospheric pressure pushed water up the downpipe until the vessel was full. At this point the tap below the vessel was closed, and the tap between it and the up-pipe opened, and more steam was admitted from the boiler. As the steam pressure built up, it forced the water from the vessel up the up-pipe to the top of the mine.
However, his engine had four serious problems. First, every time water was admitted to the working vessel much of the heat was wasted in warming up the water that was being pumped. Secondly, the second stage of the process required high-pressure steam to force the water up, and the engine's soldered joints were barely capable of withstanding high pressure steam and needed frequent repair. Thirdly, although this engine used positive steam pressure to push water up out of the engine (with no theoretical limit to the height to which water could be lifted by a single high-pressure engine) practical and safety considerations meant that in practice, to clear water from a deep mine would have needed a series of moderate-pressure engines all the way from the bottom level to the surface. Fourthly, water was pushed up into the engine only by atmospheric pressure (working against a condensed-steam 'vacuum'), so the engine had to be no more than about 30 feet (9.1 m) above the water level – requiring it to be installed, operated, and maintained far down in the dark mines all over.
Savery's original patent of July 1698 gave 14 years' protection; the next year, 1699, an Act of Parliament was passed which extended his protection for a further 21 years. This Act became known as the "Fire Engine Act". Savery's patent covered all engines that raised water by fire, and it thus played an important role in shaping the early development of steam machinery in the British Isles.
The architect James Smith of Whitehill acquired the rights to use Savery's engine in Scotland. In 1699, he entered into an agreement with the inventor, and in 1701 he secured a patent from the Parliament of Scotland, modelled on Savery's grant in England, and designed to run for the same period of time. Smith described the machine as "an engine or invention for raising of water and occasioning motion of mill-work by the force of fire", and he claimed to have modified it to pump from a depth of 14 fathoms, or 84 feet.
In England, Savery's patent meant that Thomas Newcomen was forced to go into partnership with him. By 1712, arrangements had been between the two men to develop Newcomen's more advanced design of steam engine, which was marketed under Savery's patent, adding water tanks and pump rods so that deeper water mines could be accessed with steam power.Newcomen's engine worked purely by atmospheric pressure, thereby avoiding the dangers of high-pressure steam, and used the piston concept invented in 1690 by the Frenchman Denis Papin to produce the first steam engine capable of raising water from deep mines.
When Denis Papin was back to London in 1707, he was asked by Newton, new President of The Royal Society after Robert Boyle, Papin's friend, to work with Savery, who worked for 5 years with Papin, but never gave any credit nor revenue to the French scientist.
After his death in 1715 Savery's patent and Act of Parliament became vested in a company, The Proprietors of the Invention for Raising Water by Fire.This company issued licences to others for the building and operation of Newcomen engines, charging as much as £420 per year patent royalties for the construction of steam engines. In one case a colliery paid the Proprietors £200 per year and half their net profits "in return for their services in keeping the engine going".
The Fire Engine Act did not expire until 1733, four years after the death of Newcomen.
A newspaper in March 1702 announced that Savery's engines were ready for use and might be seen on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons at his workhouse in Salisbury Court, London, over against the Old Playhouse.
One of his engines was set up at York Buildings in London. According to later descriptions this produced steam 'eight or ten times stronger than common air' (i.e. 8–10 atmospheres), but blew open the joints of the machine, forcing him to solder the joints with spelter.
Another was built to control the water supply at Hampton Court, while another at Campden House in Kensington operated for 18 years.
A few Savery engines were tried in mines, an unsuccessful attempt being made to use one to clear water from a pool called Broad Waters in Wednesbury (then in Staffordshire) and nearby coal mines. This had been covered by a sudden eruption of water some years before. However the engine could not be 'brought to answer'. The quantity of steam raised was so great as 'rent the whole machine to pieces'. The engine was laid aside, and the scheme for raising water was dropped as impracticable.This may have been in about 1705.
Another engine was proposed in 1706 by George Sparrow at Newbold near Chesterfield, where a landowner was having difficulty in obtaining the consent of his neighbours for a sough to drain his coal. Nothing came of this, perhaps due to the explosion of the Broad Waters engine.It is also possible that an engine was tried at Wheal Vor, a copper mine in Cornwall.
The Savery engine was much lower in capital cost than the Newcomen engine, with a 2 to 4 horsepower Savery engine costing from 150-200 GBP.It was also available in small sizes, down to one horsepower. Newcomen engines and early high pressure steam engines were larger and much more expensive. The larger size was due to the fact that piston steam engines became very inefficient in small sizes, at least until around 1900 when 2 horsepower piston engines were available. Savery type engines continued to be produced well into the late 18th century.
Several later pumping systems may be based on Savery's pump. For example, the twin-chamber pulsometer steam pump was a successful development of it.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1885–1900 Dictionary of National Biography's article about Thomas Savery .|
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James Watt was a Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer, and chemist who improved on Thomas Newcomen's 1712 Newcomen steam engine with his Watt steam engine in 1776, which was fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both his native Great Britain and the rest of the world.
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid. The steam engine uses the force produced by steam pressure to push a piston back and forth inside a cylinder. This pushing force is transformed, by a connecting rod and flywheel, into rotational force for work. The term "steam engine" is generally applied only to reciprocating engines as just described, not to the steam turbine.
Thomas Newcomen was an English inventor who created the atmospheric engine, the first practical fuel-burning engine in 1712. He was an ironmonger by trade and a Baptist lay preacher by calling. He was born in Dartmouth, Devon, England, to a merchant family and baptised at St. Saviour's Church on 28 February 1664. In those days flooding in coal and tin mines was a major problem, and Newcomen was soon engaged in trying to improve ways to pump out the water from such mines. His ironmonger's business specialised in designing, manufacturing and selling tools for the mining industry.
Denis Papin FRS was a French physicist, mathematician and inventor, best known for his pioneering invention of the steam digester, the forerunner of the pressure cooker and of the steam engine.
The atmospheric engine was invented by Thomas Newcomen in 1712, and is often referred to simply as a Newcomen engine. The engine was operated by condensing steam drawn into the cylinder, thereby creating a partial vacuum which allowed the atmospheric pressure to push the piston into the cylinder. It was the first practical device to harness steam to produce mechanical work. Newcomen engines were used throughout Britain and Europe, principally to pump water out of mines. Hundreds were constructed through the 18th century.
The Watt steam engine, alternatively known as the Boulton and Watt steam engine, was an early steam engine and was one of the driving forces of the Industrial Revolution. James Watt developed the design sporadically from 1763 to 1775 with support from Matthew Boulton. Watt's design saved so much more fuel compared with earlier designs that they were licensed based on the amount of fuel they would save. Watt never ceased developing the steam engine, introducing double-acting designs and various systems for taking off rotary power. Watt's design became synonymous with steam engines, and it was many years before significantly new designs began to replace the basic Watt design.
Richard Trevithick was a British inventor and mining engineer from Cornwall, England, UK. The son of a mining captain, and born in the mining heartland of Cornwall, Trevithick was immersed in mining and engineering from an early age. He performed poorly in school, but went on to be an early pioneer of steam-powered road and rail transport. His most significant contribution was the development of the first high-pressure steam engine. He also built the first working railway steam locomotive. The world's first locomotive-hauled railway journey took place on 21 February 1804, when Trevithick's unnamed steam locomotive hauled a train along the tramway of the Penydarren Ironworks, in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.
Steam power developed slowly over a period of several hundred years, progressing through expensive and fairly limited devices in the early 17th century, to useful pumps for mining in 1700, and then to Watt's improved steam engine designs in the late 18th century. It is these later designs, introduced just when the need for practical power was growing due to the Industrial Revolution, that truly made steam power commonplace.
Improvements to the steam engine were some of the most important technologies of the Industrial Revolution, although steam did not replace water power in importance in Britain until after the Industrial Revolution. From Englishman Thomas Newcomen's atmospheric engine, of 1712, through major developments by Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer James Watt, the steam engine began to be used in many industrial settings, not just in mining, where the first engines had been used to pump water from deep workings. Early mills had run successfully with water power, but by using a steam engine a factory could be located anywhere, not just close to a water source. Water power varied with the seasons and was not always available.
A beam engine is a type of steam engine where a pivoted overhead beam is used to apply the force from a vertical piston to a vertical connecting rod. This configuration, with the engine directly driving a pump, was first used by Thomas Newcomen around 1705 to remove water from mines in Cornwall. The efficiency of the engines was improved by engineers including James Watt, who added a separate condenser; Jonathan Hornblower and Arthur Woolf, who compounded the cylinders; and William McNaught, who devised a method of compounding an existing engine. Beam engines were first used to pump water out of mines or into canals, but could be used to pump water to supplement the flow for a waterwheel powering a mill.
This Timeline of heat engine technology describes how heat engines have been known since antiquity but have been made into increasingly useful devices since the 17th century as a better understanding of the processes involved was gained. They continue to be developed today.
A Cornish engine is a type of steam engine developed in Cornwall, England, mainly for pumping water from a mine. It is a form of beam engine that uses steam at a higher pressure than the earlier engines designed by James Watt. The engines were also used for powering man engines to assist the underground miners' journeys to and from their working levels, for winching materials into and out of the mine, and for powering on-site ore stamping machinery.
The steam digester is a high-pressure cooker invented by French physicist Denis Papin in 1679. It is a device for extracting fats from bones in a high-pressure steam environment, which also renders them brittle enough to be easily ground into bone meal. It is the forerunner of the autoclave and the domestic pressure cooker.
The first recorded rudimentary steam engine was the aeolipile described by Heron of Alexandria in 1st-century Roman Egypt. Several steam-powered devices were later experimented with or proposed, such as Taqi al-Din's steam jack, a steam turbine in 16th-century Ottoman Egypt, and Thomas Savery's steam pump in 17th-century England. In 1712, Thomas Newcomen's atmospheric engine became the first commercially successful engine using the principle of the piston and cylinder, which was the fundamental type of steam engine used until the early 20th century. The steam engine was used to pump water out of coal mines.
Shudehill Mill or Simpson's Mill was a very early cotton mill in Manchester city centre, England. It was built in 1782 by for Richard Arkwright and his partners and destroyed by fire in 1854. It was rebuilt and finally destroyed during the Manchester Blitz in 1940. One of Arkwright's larger mills, it was built three years before his patent lapsed. The mill had a 30 feet diameter water wheel and a Newcomen atmospheric engine was installed. Doubts remain as to why the engine was installed, whether it was a failed attempt to power a mill directly by steam or was modified to assist the wheel. It is possible that this engine, constructed by Hunt, could have been one of the 13 engines installed in Manchester mills by Joshua Wrigley. Water from the upper storage pond turned the water wheel to drive the mill. The steam engine recycled water from the lower storage pond to the upper storage pond. Three more Boulton and Watt engines were installed to power the increasing number of spindles.
Old Bess is an early beam engine built by the partnership of Boulton and Watt. The engine was constructed in 1777 and worked until 1848.
A water-returning engine was an early form of stationary steam engine, developed at the start of the Industrial Revolution in the middle of the 18th century. The first beam engines did not generate power by rotating a shaft but were developed as water pumps, mostly for draining mines. By coupling this pump with a water wheel, they could be used to drive machinery.
Resolution was an early beam engine, installed between 1781–1782 at Coalbrookdale as a water-returning engine to power the blast furnaces and ironworks there. It was one of the last water-returning engines to be constructed, before the rotative beam engine made this type of engine obsolete.
The Newcomen Memorial Engine is a preserved beam engine in Dartmouth, Devon. It was preserved as a memorial to Thomas Newcomen, inventor of the beam engine, who was born in Dartmouth.
Mine dewatering is the action of removing groundwater from a mine. When a mine extends below the water table groundwater will, due to gravity, infiltrate the mine workings. On some projects groundwater is a minor impediment that can be dealt with on an ad-hoc basis. In other mines, and in other geological settings, dewatering is fundamental to the viability of the mine and may require the use of very large resources and management.