The steam engine invention has become one of the most crucial aspects of the industrial revolution. The creation of it brought many changes not only to the powered locomotives but also to the technology that was used in the 17th century and further on. Its arrival additionally facilitated advancements in different sectors, such as manufacturing, mining, transportation, and agriculture. Although there are several people both in the 18th and the 19th century who contributed to improving this apparatus, the first steam engine prototype was actually invented almost 2000 years before the industrial revolution (Dickinson, 2011). This invention was chosen for research because it is considered to be a game-changing one in the history of man. To understand more about this event, this essay will discuss how the invention was made, how it revolutionized different industries, and changed today’s life.
The steam engine was officially invented in the late 17th century. In the year 1698, an English scientist by the name Thomas Savery invented a steam engine that could be used in pumping water (Dickinson, 2011). Savery made this engine with the aim of removing water from flooded mines. Later, in the year 1863, this device was enhanced by a Scottish engineer called James Watt (Palermo, 2014). It was Watt’s enhancements to the engine that led to the creation of the steam locomotives. Before it was invented, in the year 1606, de Ayanz had created a machine that could use steam power in propelling water up from the mines (Briggs, 2014). This steam engine was constructed using steam hammers and pile drivers and condensed steam in creating a vacuum that drew water into a chamber, from which the pressure pushed it further out to the surface. One of the difficulties faced with in the design process was that the first steam engine could not pump water from deep mines because it required accumulated pressure. This difficulty was overcome by developing the engine that could accumulate the pressure that was nearly equal to the atmospheric one (Ewing, 2013). Another challenge that confronted this type of engine is that it required a constant process of cooling and reheating the steam cylinder. In spite of these difficulties, this steam engine was used for almost fifty years before the problem was solved by using a fan (Briggs, 2014).
This invention has brought about several revolutions in its area. The creation of the steam engine is the one that preceded the building of steam locomotives. Due to this event, the speed and the amount of goods that could be carried increased significantly. In the year 1814, George Stephenson built a locomotive that could pull 30 tons and traveled at a speed of 4mph uphill (Palermo, 2014). In addition, the arrival of the steam engine brought about numerous improvements in industries hence powering the process of industrial revolution. The steam engine also improved life because it was employed in powering mills, breweries, factories, and several other manufacturing operations.
Since its invention, the steam engine has undergone definite changes. One of the alterations that were made to it was building a separate condenser, and this was done by James Watt (Ferguson & Kirkpatrick, 2015). Later, Matthew Boulton built a steam engine that could run on public railways. The final steam engine that could move at a higher speed was built by the British railways, and it was called the “Evening Star.” Currently, although the steam engine has been reduced in size with the aim of decreasing pollution it caused, it has been superseded by internal combustion engines which use electrical power that is obtained from electric grids (Ferguson & Kirkpatrick, 2015). The only steam engines that are in operation now are found in the thermal power plants; these are highly efficient and produce much less pollution than the original version.
The invention of the steam engine substantially changed the lives of people. This is because its invention preceded other inventions both in the manufacturing and the locomotive industry. In the manufacturing industry, it enabled work to be done faster with minimum energy. Factories, powering mills, breweries and manufacturing operations were powered by steam pressure (Briggs, 2014). In the locomotive industry, steam power enabled people to travel faster and carry more goods. Therefore, this invention also contributed to making present-day life comfortable in transportation. This is because the society made use of locomotives and later trains, which were invented as a result of the creation of the steam engine. Nowadays, trains can transport from several hundred to a few thousand tons of goods within a short period.
If the steam engine was not invented our life could be completely different. Since this is the event that led to the appearance of automobiles, it means that if it had not been invented, there could be no automobiles. Hence, movement would be limited and it could be difficult to travel to distant places (Briggs, 2014). Besides, several products could not exist since the process of producing them would be hectic. Therefore, without the invention of the steam engine, modern life would have been tough.
In conclusion, the invention of the steam engine marked one of the most important starting points in the history of man. It facilitated advancements in different sectors such as mining, manufacturing, agriculture and transport. The first steam engine enabled people to draw water from the flood mines and then boosted the invention of locomotives which enabled people to travel at a faster speed with their goods. Since its invention, the steam engine has undergone several changes with the aim of making it more efficient and effective. Although, the engines have been superseded by internal combustion engines, they are still used in thermal power plants.