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Mechanism:

On 2 July 1698 Savery patented an early steam engine, "A new invention for raising of water and occasioning motion to all sorts of mill work by the impellent force of fire, which will be of great use and advantage for drayning mines, serveing townes with water, and for the working of all sorts of mills where they have not the benefitt of water nor constant windes." He demonstrated it to the Royal Society on 14 June 1699. The patent has no illustrations or even description, but in 1702 Savery described the machine in his book The Miner's Friend; or, An Engine to Raise Water by Fire, in which he claimed that it could pump water out of mines. Savery's engine had no piston, and no moving parts except from the taps. It was operated by first raising steam in the boiler; the steam was then admitted to the working vessel, allowing it to blow out through a downpipe into the water that was to be raised. When the system was hot and therefore full of steam the tap between the boiler and the working vessel was shut, and if necessary the outside of the vessel was cooled. This made the steam inside it condense, creating a partial vacuum, and atmospheric pressure pushed water up the downpipe until the vessel was full. At this point the tap below the vessel was closed, and the tap between it and the up-pipe opened, and more steam was admitted from the boiler. As the steam pressure built up, it forced the water from the vessel up the up-pipe to the top of the mine. However, his engine had four serious problems. First, every time water was admitted to the working vessel much of the heat was wasted in warming up the water that was being pumped. Secondly, the second stage of the process required high-pressure steam to force the water up, and the engine's soldered joints were barely capable of withstanding high pressure steam and needed frequent repair. Thirdly, although this engine used positive steam pressure to push water up out of the engine (with no theoretical limit to the height to which water could be lifted by a single high-pressure engine) practical and safety considerations meant that in practice, to clear water from a deep mine would have needed a series of moderate-pressure engines all the way from the bottom level to the surface. Fourthly, water was pushed up into the engine only by atmospheric pressure (working against a condensed-steam 'vacuum'), so the engine had to be no more than about 30 feet (9.1 m) above the water level requiring it to be installed, operated, and maintained far down in the mine.

Application of the First Developed Engine:


A newspaper in March 1702 announced that Savery's engines were ready for use and might be seen on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons at his workhouse in Salisbury Court, London, over against the Old Playhouse. One of his engines was set up at York Buildings in London. According to later descriptions this produced steam 'eight or ten times stronger than common air' (i.e. 8-10 atmospheres), but blew open the joints of the machine, forcing him to solder the joints with spelter. Another was built to control the water supply at Hampton Court, while another at Campden House in Kensington operated for 18 years. A few Savery engines were tried in mines, an unsuccessful attempt being made to use one to clear water from a pool called Broad Waters in Wednesbury (then in Staffordshire) and nearby coal mines. This had been covered by a sudden eruption of water some years before. However the engine could not be 'brought to answer'. The quantity of steam raised was so great as 'rent the whole machine to pieces'. The engine was laid aside, and the scheme for raising water was dropped as impracticable. This may have been in about 1705. Another engine was proposed in 1706 by George

Sparrow at Newbold near Chesterfield, where a landowner was having difficulty in obtaining the consent of his neighbours for a sough to drain his coal. Nothing came of this, perhaps due to the explosion of the Broad Waters engine. It is also possible that an engine was tried at Wheal Vor, a copper mine in Cornwall.

References: 1. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Savery