William Joseph Still

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William Joseph Still

William Joseph Still was an English engineer. He was born at Reigate on 17 August 1870. In 1884, he went to Canada to work for a firm of electric vehicle manufacturers. In 1894, he returned to England, where he invented a double-acting diesel-steam engine in which waste heat from the cylinder jacket and the exhaust was used to produce steam to assist the diesel engine. This is covered by U.S. patent 1230617 of 1917.[1] Still also invented the Still heat-transmitting tube which was used in refrigeration plant.[2]

The Still engine[edit]

The Still engine was used experimentally for stationary, marine and locomotive applications. The best-known application was the Kitson-Still locomotive of 1926 which was tried out on the London and North Eastern Railway

The Still engine gave an increase in thermal efficiency over an ordinary diesel engine but was not a long-term success because of the added complexity of the steam system.[3]


Still obtained a large number of British, Canadian and U.S. patents. Some examples follow:

  • GB191317862, Improvements in means for injecting fuel into the cylinders of internal-combustion engines [4]
  • CA49886, Rectifier for electrical currents [5]
  • US547043, Rectifier for electrical currents [6]
  • US1171899, Manufacture of gilled tubular apparatus [7]

Although the titles of Canadian patents are available from 1869, the full details of pre-1978 patents have not yet (December 2014) been put on-line.[8]


  1. ^ http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/originalDocument?CC=US&NR=1230617A&KC=A&FT=D&ND=3&date=19170619&DB=worldwide.espacenet.com&locale=en_EP
  2. ^ Hammerton, J.A. (editor), Concise Universal Biography, volume 2, page 1254, published by The Amalgamated Press, London, c. 1934
  3. ^ http://www.douglas-self.com/MUSEUM/POWER/still/still.htm
  4. ^ http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/originalDocument?CC=GB&NR=191317862A&KC=A&FT=D&ND=3&date=19140907&DB=EPODOC&locale=en_EP
  5. ^ http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?DB=EPODOC&II=9&ND=3&adjacent=true&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=18950906&CC=CA&NR=49886A&KC=A
  6. ^ http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/originalDocument?CC=US&NR=547043A&KC=A&FT=D&ND=3&date=18951001&DB=EPODOC&locale=en_EP
  7. ^ http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/originalDocument?CC=US&NR=1171899A&KC=A&FT=D&ND=3&date=19160215&DB=EPODOC&locale=en_EP
  8. ^ http://brevets-patents.ic.gc.ca/opic-cipo/cpd/eng/currency_of_information.html