Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Timeline: Internal Combustion Engine

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1820 W. Cecil described an engine which he had constructed to operate according to the explosion-vacuum method

1827 Lemuel Wellman Wright granted a patent for "improvements in the construction of cranes" which included the use of a compressed air engine

1838 William Barnett granted a patent for the first recorded suggestion of in-cylinder compression.

1854 Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci invented an engine that was rumored to be the first 4-cycle engine, but the patent was lost.

1856 Pietro Benini at Fonderia del Pignone in Florence realized a working prototype of the Italian engine supplying 5 HP. In subsequent years he developed more powerful engines — with one or two pistons — which served as steady power sources, replacing steam engines.

1860 Christian Reithmann patent

1860 Etienne Lenoir produced a gas-fired internal combustion engine similar in appearance to a horizontal double-acting steam beam engine, with cylinders, pistons, connecting rods, and flywheel in which the gas essentially took the place of the steam. This was the first internal combustion engine to be produced in numbers.

1861 Alphonse Beau de Rochas patents the earliest confirmed patent of the 4-cycle engine

1862 Nikolaus Otto was the first to build and sell the engine. He designed an indirect-acting free-piston compressionless engine whose greater efficiency won the support of Eugen Langen and then most of the market, which at that time was mostly for small stationary engines fueled by lighting gas.

1870 Siegfried Marcus in Vienna, put the first mobile gasoline engine on a handcart.

1873 George B. Brayton took out patents for a gas and an oil engine.

1876 Nikolaus Otto, working with Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, improved the four-cycle engine. The German courts, however, did not hold his patent to cover all in-cylinder compression engines or even the four-stroke cycle, and after this decision, in-cylinder compression became universal.

1878 Dugald Clerk designed the first two-stroke engine and patented it in England in 1881. This was a design using valves.

1879 Karl Benz, working independently, was granted a patent for his internal combustion engine, a reliable two-stroke gas engine, based on the same technology as De Rochas's design of the four-stroke engine. Later, Benz designed and built his own four-stroke engine that was used in his automobiles, which were developed in 1885, patented in 1886, and became the first automobiles in production.

1882 James Atkinson invented the Atkinson cycle engine. Atkinson’s engine had one power phase per revolution together with different intake and expansion volumes, making it more efficient than the Otto cycle.

1887 Gustaf de Laval introduces the de Laval nozzle

1891 Herbert Akroyd Stuart built his oil engine, leasing rights to Hornsby of England to build them. They built the first cold-start compression-ignition engines. In 1892, they installed the first ones in a water pumping station. In the same year, an experimental higher-pressure version produced self-sustaining ignition through compression alone.

1893 Rudolf Diesel received a patent for his compression ignition (diesel) engine.

1894 Joseph Day invents the the valveless two-stroke engine

1896: Karl Benz invented the boxer engine, also known as the horizontally opposed engine, or the flat engine, in which the corresponding pistons reach top dead center at the same time, thus balancing each other in momentum.

1900 Rudolf Diesel demonstrated the diesel engine at the 1900 Exposition Universelle (World's Fair) using peanut oil fuel.

1900 Wilhelm Maybach designed an engine built at Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft— following the specifications of Emil Jellinek, who required the engine to be named Daimler-Mercedes after his daughter. In 1902 automobiles with that engine were put into production by DMG.

1903 - Konstantin Tsiolkovsky begins a series of theoretical papers discussing the use of rocketry to reach outer space. A major point in his work is liquid fueled rockets.

1903: Ægidius Elling builds a gas turbine using a centrifugal compressor which runs under its own power. By most definitions, this is the first working gas turbine.

1905 Alfred Buchi patents the turbocharger and starts producing the first examples.

1903-1906: The team of Armengaud and Lemale in France build a complete gas turbine engine. It uses three separate compressors driven by a single turbine. Limits on the turbine temperatures allow for only a 3:1 compression ratio, and the turbine is not based on a Parsons-like "fan", but a Pelton wheel-like arrangement. The engine is so inefficient, at about 3% thermal efficiency, that the work is abandoned.

1908: Hans Holzwarth starts work on extensive research on an "explosive cycle" gas turbine, based on the Otto cycle. This design burns fuel at a constant volume and is somewhat more efficient. By 1927, when the work ended, he has reached about 13% thermal efficiency.

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