Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,451 pages of information and 245,911 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Timeline: Internal Combustion Engine

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Most of the following information is drawn from the Wikipedia entry as at September 2018, and from 'Internal Fire' by Lyle Cummins [1]

1791 John Barber obtained British patent No. 1833 for 'an Engine for using Inflammable Air for the Purpose of Procuring Motion and Facilitating Metallurgical Operations.....'. In it he described a turbine.

1794 Robert Street, a varnish maker, built an internal combustion engine using vaporised turpentine. William Deverell (Bath) made pumping machines under Street's patent.

1798 John Cox Stevens experimented with IC engines using ethyl alcohol as fuel. A document containing the engines' description was witnessed by Marc Brunel.[2]

1801 Philippe Lebon designed, but probably never made, a double-acting engine working on coal gas.

1802-13 Isaac de Rivaz of Switzerland undertook considerable experimental work and produced a vehicle propelled by an IC engine with electric ignition.

1806 Claude and Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce installed a powdered fuel Pyréolophore internal combustion engine in a boat and powered up the river Saône in France.

1820 Rev. William Cecil demonstrated a model engine which he had constructed to operate using hydrogen according to the explosion-vacuum method. It had a 3 ft diameter flywheel and ran at 60 rpm.[3]

1823-33 Samuel Brown patented the first internal combustion engine to be applied industrially, the gas vacuum engine. The design used atmospheric pressure, and was demonstrated in a carriage and a boat, and in 1830 it was in use commercially to pump water to the upper level of the Croydon Canal.

1826 Samuel Morey in New Hampshire received a patent for a compressionless "Gas or Vapor Engine." This is also the first recorded example of a carburettor.

1833 Lemuel Wellman Wright of London patented a double-acting IC engine using coal gas.

1838 William Barnett of Brighton was granted a patent for three types of engine, which included the first recorded suggestion of in-cylinder compression prior to ignition.

1843 Alfred Drake of Philadelphia demonstrated a prototype double-acting non-compression gas engine with hot-tube ignition. He continued to develop it, but did not patent it until 1855. Apparently it did not go into commercial production.[4]. A writer in 1890 stated that 'it bears a close resemblance to the most successful modern gas-engines'.[5]

1844-6 Stuart Perry of Newport, NY, USA produced a gas engine which was demonstrated at his brother Samuel's store in New York City.[6]

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

1856 Pietro Benini at Fonderia del Pignone in Florence realised 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 engine with spark ignition, similar in appearance to a horizontal double-acting steam engine. This was the first internal combustion engine to be produced in numbers. It was very inefficient and prone to various problems. Probably less than 500 were produced, mostly in Paris but also in the UK and USA.[7]

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

1862 Nikolaus Otto began to manufacture a non-compression gas Lenoir-type engine with a free piston.

1864: Nikolaus Otto, patented in England and other countries his first atmospheric gas engine. Otto was the first to build and sell this type of compressionless engine designed with an indirect-acting free-piston, whose efficiency won the support of Eugen Langen and then most of the market. Eugen Langen collaborated with Otto in the design and they began to manufacture it in 1864.

c.1865 Pierre-Constant Hugon introduced a double-acting gas engine incorporating flame ignition. Gas consumption was about 20% less than Lenoir's.[8]

1867: Otto and Langen exhibited their free piston engine at the Paris Exhibition in 1867. It had less than half the gas consumption of the Lenoir or Hugon engines.

1870 Siegfried Marcus in Vienna, applied a petrol (gasoline) engine to drive a simple cart.

1870 Alexis de Bisschop in Paris patented a non-compression gas engine of small output. It proved to be successful, and was produced under licence by a number of companies.[9]

1872 In America George B. Brayton introduced his gas engine, which was troubled by backfiring, but formed the basis for more significant developments using liquid fuel. His name is remembered in the thermodynamic 'Brayton Cycle'. In 1873 he took out patents for a gas and an oil engine. In 1875 he introduced the world's first practical oil-burning IC engine (having patented it in 1874).

1876 Nikolaus Otto, working with Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, improved the four-stroke 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 patented a two-stroke engine. It was built by Thompson, Sterne, and when demonstrated in London in June 1879 it was the first 2-stroke to come to public notice. 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.

1885 James Atkinson demonstrated the Atkinson cycle engine, having started work on gas engines in 1882. Atkinson’s engine had one power phase per revolution together with different intake and expansion volumes, making it more efficient than the Otto cycle.

1891 Herbert Akroyd Stuart built his oil engine, leasing rights to Richard Hornsby and Sons 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.

1891 Joseph Day patented a valveless three-port two-stroke engine.[10]

1892 Rudolf Diesel received a patent for his compression ignition (diesel) engine. His first experimental engine was built in 1893.

1896: Karl Benz invented a boxer engine, also known as the horizontally opposed engine, or the flat engine, in which the corresponding pistons reach top dead centre 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 (DMG) following the specifications of Emil Jellinek, who required the engine to be named Daimler-Mercedes after his daughter. In 1902 cars with that engine were put into production by DMG.

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

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

1905 Alfred Buchi patented the turbocharger and started producing the first examples.

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

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

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'Internal Fire' by Lyle Cummins, Carnot Press, 1976, 1988, 2000
  2. 'Internal Fire' by Lyle Cummins, Carnot Press, 2000, pp.64-66
  3. 'Internal Fire' by Lyle Cummins, Carnot Press, 2000, pp.69-72
  4. 'Internal Fire' by Lyle Cummins, Carnot Press, 2000, pp.94-5
  5. 'Gas and Petroleum Engines' by Williamson Robinson: Spon, 1890
  6. 'Internal Fire' by Lyle Cummins, Carnot Press, 2000, pp.92-94
  7. 'Internal Fire' by Lyle Cummins, Carnot Press, 2000, pp.107-113
  8. 'Internal Fire' by Lyle Cummins, Carnot Press, 2000, pp.113-8
  9. 'Internal Fire' by Lyle Cummins, Carnot Press, 2000, pp.118-122
  10. 'Internal Fire' by Lyle Cummins, Carnot Press, 2000, pp.218-9
  • [1] Wikipedia
  • 'Internal Fire' by Lyle Cummins, Carnot Press, 1976, 1988, 2000