The first experiments with steam have been made by Hero of Alexandria 120 A.C. He built many mechanical devices, which seldomly performed any useful work. Hero among other things invented a steamball (see the animation on the left side) and a templedoor-opener (see picture on the right side). The templedoor-opener was not that economical. The steam condensed all the time on the surface of the cold water, but no handworker was able to produce a piston at that time. Although the engine was already very sophisticated, his knowledge was shifted to the background for many years and, only in the 17th century, concrete success was made.
On the right side, the fire is heating the water so that its vapors could go through a pipe in the hollow ball. Because this ball is revolving on a pivot, steam - which passes out through the bent tubes - makes the ball turn.
If the priest makes a fire over the altar the air inside it is heated too and presses the water out of the sphere and into the bucket. The bucket itself is connected with a cord, which is connected on a revolving column, and turns it while moving downward. Therefore, the doors of the temple open. At the end of the ceremony, the priest puts the fire out, the air cools down, the pressure is going down, the water flows back into the sphere and the doors close because there is a weight that turns the columns back.
Giambattista della Porta and Salomon de
In 1609, the Italian Giambattista della Porta succeeded in showing that water can be raised with fire. He filled a retort (a vessel that has a wide bottom that leads into a thin pipe) with water and put it over a fire. He then put the pipe into a air-tight vessel filled with water. When the water in the retort began to vaporize an excess pressure took place in the vessel above it. Porta put another pipe into it, so that the water could be pressed out of the vessel.
Salomon de Caus built in 1611 a very similar apparatus. He fusioned all the pieces from Portas apparatus in one copper vessel. Heating the vessel, which has been filled with water before, pressed all water out of it.
Conrad Matschoss - Die Entwicklung der Dampfmaschine
Robert H. Thurston - The growth of the steam-engine (online)
F.Calcagno & S.M. Calizzano - Steam engines (online)
Links about "Hero Caus Porta"|
Chapter 5: Thermodynamics
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Chapter 5: Thermodynamics. Building simple heat engines.
Hero's steam engine.
A simple steam engine powered boat.
A simple rotary steam engine.
An engine driven by the heat of your hand.
A bi-metal strip heat engine.
A simple rocket engine you can build in your kitchen.
Building a Film Can Cannon.
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The events and the men who led to the steam engine invention, with animations, diagrams and pictures.
The pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria
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Translation from original greek
The Ultimate Steam Page
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Information on the history of steam locomotive development,
advanced steam locomotive projects including the ACE 3000 and others,
and present-day steam locomotive news.
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