Timeline of heat engine technology

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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.

In engineering and thermodynamics, a heat engine performs the conversion of heat energy to mechanical work by exploiting the temperature gradient between a hot "source" and a cold "sink". Heat is transferred to the sink from the source, and in this process some of the heat is converted into work.

A heat pump is a heat engine run in reverse. Work is used to create a heat differential. The timeline includes devices classed as both engines and pumps, as well as identifying significant leaps in human understanding.

Pre Seventienth century[edit]

  • Prehistory - The fire piston used by tribes in southeast Asia and the Pacific islands to kindle fire.
  • c. 450 BC - Archytas of Tarentum used a jet of steam to propel a toy wooden bird suspended on wire.[1]
  • c. 50 AD - Hero of Alexandria's Engine, also known as Aeolipile. Demonstrates rotary motion produced by the reaction from jets of steam.[2]
  • c. 10th century - China develops the earliest fire lances which were spear-like weapons combining a bamboo tube containing gunpowder and shrapnel like projectiles tied to a spear.
  • c 12th century - China, the earliest depiction of a gun showing a metal body and a tight-fitting projectile which maximises the conversion of the hot gases to forward motion.[3]
  • 1125 - Gerbert, a professor in the schools at Rheims designed and built an organ blown by air escaping from a vessel in which it was compressed by heated water.[4]
  • 1232 - First recorded use of a rocket. In a battle between the Chinese and the Mongols. ( see Timeline of rocket and missile technology for a view of rocket development through time.)
  • c. 1500 - Leonardo da Vinci builds the Architonnerre, a steam-powered cannon.[5]
  • 1543 - Blasco de Garay , a Spanish naval officer demonstrates a boat propelled without oars or sail that utilised the reaction from a jet issued from a large boiling kettle of water.[4]
  • 1551 - Taqi al-Din demonstrates a steam turbine, used to rotate a spit.[6]

Seventienth century[edit]

Eighteenth century[edit]

Nineteenth century[edit]

Twentieth century[edit]

Twenty-first century[edit]

  • 2011 - Shoichi Toyabe and others demonstrate a working Szilard engine using a phase-contrast microscope equipped with a high speed camera connected to a computer.[9]
  • 2011 - Michigan State University builds the first wave disk engine. An internal combustion engine which does away with pistons, crankshafts and valves, and replaces them with a disc-shaped shock wave generator.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hellemans, Alexander; et al. (1991). ""The Timetables of Science: A Chronology of the Most Important People and Events in the History of Science"". New York: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1991.
  2. ^ Hero (1851) [reprint of 1st century CE original], "Section 50 – The Steam Engine". Translated from the original Greek by Bennet Woodcroft (Professor of Machinery in University College London.
  3. ^ Needham, Joseph (1986), Science & Civilisation in China, V:7: The Gunpowder Epic, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-30358-3
  4. ^ a b Reid, Hugo (1838). The Steam-engine: Being a Popular Description of the Construction and Action of that Engine; with a Sketch of Its History, and of the Laws of Heat and Pneumatics . Edinburgh: William Tait. p. 74. 
  5. ^ Thurston, Robert Henry (1996). A History of the Growth of the Steam-Engine (reprint ed.). Elibron. p. 12. ISBN 1-4021-6205-7.
  6. ^ Hassan, Ahmad Y. "Taqi al-Din and the First Steam Turbine". History of Science and Technology in Islam. Archived from the original on February 18, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  7. ^ "The History of the Automobile - Gas Engines". About.com. 2009-09-11. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  8. ^ The Griffin Engineering Company, of Bath, Somerset University Of Bath, 15 December 2004. Accessed May 2011
  9. ^ Shoichi Toyabe; Takahiro Sagawa; Masahito Ueda; Eiro Muneyuki; Masaki Sano (2010-09-29). "Information heat engine: converting information to energy by feedback control". Nature Physics. 6 (12): 988–992. arXiv:1009.5287.Bibcode:2011NatPh...6..988T. doi:10.1038/nphys1821. We demonstrated that free energy is obtained by a feedback control using the information about the system; information is converted to free energy, as the first realization of Szilard-type Maxwell’s demon.
  10. ^ Michigan State University: Wave Disk Engine U.S. Department of Energy , Advanced Research Projects Agency, March 2011