How the Steam Engine Changed the World? NCERT Notes History

Steam Engine

How the Steam Engine Changed the World?

The steam engine is a wonderful invention of the industrial era. Steam engine can be used as part of an engine or can be used separately too. There were many experiments in the 17th century which gave rise to a technology that powered massive factories. This also allowed for deeper mines and came up with a transportation network by the mid-nineteenth century.

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Industrial Power Pre 1750

Before 1750, the conventional arbitrary starting time for the industrial revolution, the majority of British and European industries was traditional and depends on water as their main power source. This was a well-established technology, using streams and waterwheels, and was both proven and widely available in the British landscape. There were major problems because you had to be near suitable water, which could lead you to isolated places, and it tended to freeze or dry up. On the other hand, it was cheap. Water was also vital for transport, with rivers and coastal trade. Animals were also used for both power and transport, but these were expensive to run because of their food and care. For rapid industrialization to take place, alternative sources of power were needed.


The Development of Steam

People underwent some experiments with steam-powered engines in the 17th century as a solution to power problems, and in 1698 Thomas Savery invented his ‘Machine for Raising Water by Fire’. Used in Cornish tin mines, this pumped water with a simple up and down motion with only limited use and that couldn’t be applied to machinery. It also had a tendency to explode, and steam development was held back by the patent, Savery held for thirty-five years. In 1712, Thomas Newcomen developed a different type of engine and bypassed the patents. This was first used in Staffordshire coal mines, had most of the old limitations, and was expensive to run, but had the distinctive advantage of not blowing up.

In the second half of the 18th century came inventor James Watt, a man who built on the development of others and became a major contributor to steam technology. In 1763 Watt added a separate condenser to Newcomen’s engine which saved fuel; during this period he was working with people involved in the iron-producing industry. Then Watt teamed up with a former toy manufacturer who had changed profession. In 1781 Watt, former toy man Boulton and Murdoch built the ‘rotary action steam engine’. This was the major breakthrough because it could be used to power machinery, and in 1788 a centrifugal governor was fitted to keep the engine running at an even speed. Now there was an alternative power source for the wider industry and after 1800 the mass production of steam engines began.

Considering steam’s reputation in a revolution which is traditionally said to run from 1750, steam was relatively slow to be adopted. A lot of industrialization had already taken place before steam power was in major use, and a lot had grown and improved without it. The cost was initially one factor holding engines back, as industrialists used other sources of power to keep start-up costs down and avoid major risks. Some industrialists had a conservative attitude which only slowly turned to steam. Perhaps more importantly, the first steam engines were inefficient, using a lot of coal, and needed large-scale production facilities to work properly, while much industry was small scale. It took the time (until the 1830s/40s) for coal prices to fall and industry to become large enough to need more power.


The Effects of Steam on Textiles

The textile industry had used many different sources of power, from water to human in the many laborers of the domestic system. The first factory had been built at the start of the 18th century and used water power because at the time textiles could be produced with only a small amount of power. Expansion took the form of expanding over more rivers for the waterwheels. When steam-powered machinery became possible in 1780, textiles were initially slow to adopt the technology, as it was expensive and required a high starting cost, and caused trouble. However, over time the costs of steam fell and use grew. Water and steam power became even in 1820, and by 1830 steam was well ahead, producing a large increase in the productivity of the textile industry as new factories were created.


The Effects on Coal and Iron

The coal, iron, and steel industries mutually stimulated each other during the revolution. There was a strong need for coal to power steam engines, but these engines also allowed made it possible for deeper mines and more coal to be produced, thereby creating the fuel more demand for coal.

The iron industry has also benefited. At first, steam was used to pump water back to reservoirs, but this soon developed and steam was used to power larger and better blast furnaces, allowing for an increase in iron output. Rotary action steam engines may be connected to other sections of the iron method, and the steam hammer was first used in 1839. Steam and iron were connected as early as 1722 when Darby, an iron magnate, and Newcomen worked together to improve the quality of iron for steam engine production. Better iron results in more precision engineering for steam.

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The Importance of the Steam Engine

The steam engine might be the icon of the industrial revolution, but how important was it in this first industrial stage? Some of the historians like Deane have said the engine had some impact at first, as it was only liable to large-scale industrial processes, and until 1830, the majority was small scale. She agrees that some industries like iron and coal used it, but that the capital outlay only became worthwhile for the majority after 1830 because of delays in producing viable engines, high costs at the start, and the ease with which manual labor can be hired and fired compared to a steam engine. Peter Mathias argues the same thing but insists that steam should still be considered one of the main achievements of the industrial revolution, one that took place towards the end of a second steam-driven era.

Steam engine is a powerful invention which impacted every industry and the overall living of mankind. Takshila learning makes it apparent for the understanding of everyone and the correct update about the invention. The significance of the steam engines is relevant everywhere in the world to replace the earlier traditional processes. With the help of Takshila learning’s modules the aspirants can always get it right and in a simpler way.

Takshila learning helps you gain more knowledge about the steam engine and apply it in the relevant industries


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