James Watt – MagLab

Jame watt

His improvements on the steam engine were a major factor in the industrial revolution, and when the watt machine was combined with Thomas Edison’s electric generator in the late 19th century, large-scale electricity generation was possible for the first time. Soon after, the streets of New York and other cities were lit up with electric lamps. in the following years many other uses of electricity were developed, so that it has become fully integrated into the daily life of people all over the world.

James Watt was born in the village of Greenock in Renfrewshire, Scotland, on January 19, 1736. He received his early education in his mother’s home and in his father’s workshop, where his father oversaw a prosperous home and ship. . construction business. In the shop, Watt developed a keen interest in tools, instruments, and model making. he then attended elementary school, where he studied Greek, Latin, mathematics and other subjects. Watt’s penchant for construction shaped his career choice, as the young man decided to become an apprentice to an instrument maker in London. Sickly by nature, Watt soon found himself unsuited to the bustling and noisy atmosphere of London. He moved to Glasgow, Scotland, where he had relatives, before he was 21.

in glasgow, watt obtained a position as a maker of mathematical instruments at the local university. Through this appointment, he came into contact with several prominent scientists, including Joseph Black, with whom he would correspond throughout his life. Watt’s work with the steam engine began in 1764, when he was asked to repair a newly arrived steam engine in use at the university. Designed by English engineer Thomas Newcomen in the early 18th century, the engine was incredibly inefficient. only about 1 percent of the steam’s thermal energy was converted to mechanical energy with the newly arrived engines, but they were better than any other steam engine available at the time. watt, however, would fix this problem soon.

after careful consideration, watt determined that the steam engine could be drastically improved by the addition of a separate condenser to reduce the loss of latent heat, which is the heat associated with the change of state of a substance (a concept first described by watt’s friend joseph black). After raising enough money to build a small machine of his own black design, Watt formed a partnership in 1768 with John Roebuck and obtained a patent for a steam engine with a separate condensing chamber in 1769. The process involved in the transformation From an invention to a marketable product, however, can be long and laborious, and while still solving practical problems with the modified steam engine, Watt began working as a surveyor to support himself. His new job was planning and marking routes for canals, which left him few opportunities to advance the steam engine.

it was not until watt gave up surveying and moved to birmingham, england, in 1774, that progress with his steam engine began again. By 1772, Roebuck had gone bankrupt, assigning his share of Watt’s patent to manufacturer Matthew Boulton in lieu of payment of the monetary debt. Watt and Boulton obtained a patent extension from Parliament in 1775, and the new partnership resulted in great advances with the engine. the following year the first two-watt motors were installed and many more would follow. Business improved significantly when Watt invented a rotary-motion steam engine in 1781 that could be used for a wider variety of applications and a double-acting engine, which featured both pushing and pulling pistons. other improvements followed later, such as a centrifugal governor to control engine speed and an automatic pressure gauge. with so many modifications, the steam engines found in many mills and factories at the end of the 19th century bore little resemblance to the newly arrived machines that had dominated the market at the turn of the century.

The growing demand for Watt’s steam engines eventually made both Watt and Boulton considerable fortunes and brought them substantial renown. In 1785, the partners were elected to the Royal Society of London. They were also key members of the Lunar Society, a group that included many prominent British scientists and industrialists, such as Erasmus Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood. In 1794, Watt and Boulton founded a new company, which would be taken over by their sons in the early 19th century, when their major patents expired. After 1800, Watt spent much of his time traveling in Europe with his second wife, Ann, with whom he had two children. His first wife, with whom Watt had fathered several children, had died in 1773. Watt’s death occurred in 1819. He is buried next to his lifelong partner, Boulton, in Birmingham.

during the course of his work on the steam engine, watt developed the concept of horsepower as a unit of power. since his engines replaced animals as a power source, it seemed natural to describe the power of the engines in terms of how many horsepower it would have required to generate it. Watt established that one unit of horsepower is equivalent to 33,000 pounds lifted one foot per minute. In honor of his work related to efficiency and power, a unit of power commonly used for both electricity and mechanics, the watt , was named after him. /p>

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