Denis Papin was an assistant of Huygens. Huygens showed him the gunpowder-engine. The power of this engine was not effective. Papin could at least make the operation of the engine more secure with his invention of a touch-pan. However, the engine firing off was still very dangerous because its material could hardly stand the huge explosions. Papin then thought of his knowledge of water. He knew that water can get "as elastic as air" and also knew that this procedure could be reversed. Therefore, he wanted to create an engine that could produce the "entire emptiness".
His engine was not at all satisfying. The power was limited, because all functions have been inside of one tool (boiler, cylinder, piston)that had to be heated and cooled. Furthermore, the engine was only cooled with fresh air. Papin also invented a geared piston bar, which could turn a cogwheel while the piston slided downward during the work period of the engine. But he could not manage the construction because of his insufficient technical knowledge. There was no hand worker that could produce an example of the engine and his own knowledge was only sufficient for his labour. Papin was more successful in inventing other different things besides steam power.
Some years later, Papin received an order from the count of Kassel. He was asked to build an engine that could lift water to a defined height. The count paid all the covers. Papin developed in his engine some interesting technical details. He used a free-swimming piston which prevented the steam from condensing on the cold water-surface. Furthermore, he invented a safety valve that limited the maximal steam-pressure. Unfortunately, the joints and valves were leaking so the count lost the interest in Papins steam engine and researches.
Conrad Matschoss - Die Entwicklung der Dampfmaschine
Robert H. Thurston - The growth of the steam-engine (online)
F.Calcagno & S.M. Calizzano - Steam engines (online)
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