ДЖЕЙМС УАТТ, ОТЕЦ СОВРЕМЕННОГО ПАРОВОГО ДВИГАТЕЛЯ - Студенческий научный форум

XI Международная студенческая научная конференция Студенческий научный форум - 2019

ДЖЕЙМС УАТТ, ОТЕЦ СОВРЕМЕННОГО ПАРОВОГО ДВИГАТЕЛЯ

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James Watt was one of the most important engineers and scientists in history. His work on the modern steam engine kick-started the entire Industrial Revolution.

James Watt was a Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer and chemist most famous for his work on the world's first modern steam engine. He would modify the Newcomen steam engine to improve its efficiency through his creative thinking and scientific knowledge of instrument design. James's work on the steam engine would prove to be a substantial contribution to the world and one that would, in no small part, help power the Industrial Revolution at home in Great Britain and in the rest of the world.

James would initially take up work building instruments at the University of Glasgow. Whilst there he would become interested in steam engines. He would quickly realize that existing steam engines wasted energy by repeatedly cooling and reheating the cylinder. To solve this he introduced a simple but significant improvement on the design. A separate condenser. This avoided the need to waste energy and radically improved the power, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of steam engines.

James Watt would incrementally improve the engine's design over the years. He added rotary motion and broadened the engines applications to uses beyond just pumping water. Watt would attempt to commercialize his invention but experienced many financial setbacks. That was until he entered into a partnership with Matthew Boulton in 1775. The pair would form a new company, Boulton, and Watt, which would eventually become very successful. Watt would eventually become a very wealthy man.

During his retirement, Watt would continue to tinker away. He developed several new inventions but none of them were as significant as the steam engine. He would later die at the ripe old age of 83.

Early years

James Watt was born on January 19th, 1736 in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland. His father was the treasurer and magistrate of Greenock. He also ran a successful ship and house building business.

His mother, Agnes Muirhead, came from a distinguished family and was well educated. Both his parents were Presbyterians and strong Covenanters. Watt's grandfather, Thomas Watt, was actually a mathematics teacher and bailee to the Baron of Cartsburn. Interestingly given the fact he was raised by religious parents, he would later become a deist.

James's childhood would be plagued by toothaches and migraines. Because of this medical condition, he was unable to attend school regularly. Owing to this, James was home taught by his parents initially. His mother taught James how to read whilst his father taught him arithmetic and writing. He would later attend a grammar school where he learned Latin, Greek, and mathematics.

James Watt would show a great level of manual dexterity, engineering skills and an aptitude for mathematics. Other subjects such as Latin and Greek did not interest him very much.

An important part of James's education was his father's workshops. Here James worked with his own tools, bench, and even a forge. He would spend his time at the workshops making models like cranes and barrel organs. He quickly became familiar with ship's instruments too.

His time at his father's workshops helped him quickly decide what he wanted to do with his life, at least at first. During James's teenage years his father would lose his inheritance due to commercial disasters and his mother's death.

James and his destiny

At 17 James decided to become a mathematical-instrument maker. James Watt first moved to Glasgow where one of his mother's relatives lectured at the university. James would also meet Robert Dick whilst in Glasgow. Dick encouraged Watt to master the skill of instrument making by moving to and working as an apprentice in London. James acted on this advice and in 1755 moved to London after finding a willing master to teach him.

That willing master was one John Morgan. He was an instrument maker who agreed to take him on but with little pay. James would end up working long hours continuously in a cold workshop. Because of this, his health declined.

His abilities surpassed John’s other apprentices and he was able to complete his tenure in one year, which normally extended up to seven years. James's health broke down within a year but he had learned enough to “to work as well as most journeymen.” After this time James returned to Glasgow once again.

As James had not completed an official seven-year apprenticeship the Glasgow Guild of Hammerman (the organization who had jurisdiction over an artisan using a hammer) blocked his application despite there not being any mathematical instrument makers in Scotland at the time.

Watt's situation was helped by the arrival from Jamaica of astronomical instruments that were bequeathed to the University of Glasgow. These instruments required expert attention. Watt managed to restore them to working order and was remunerated accordingly. These instruments were eventually installed in the Macfarlane Observatory. Because of his excellent work on the instruments, three professors offered him opportunities to set up a small workshop within the university.

James's engine

In 1757 Watt moved to Glasgow. In 1764 Watt mended a model of a Newcomen steam engine. In a Newcomen engine steam is admitted into a cylinder then condensed back into water. In 1765 Watt realized it would be more efficient to condense the steam in another chamber separate from the cylinder. However, it was not until 1769 that Watt patented his knew idea, the separate condenser.

Meanwhile in 1764 James Watt married a woman named Margaret Miller. The couple had 6 children but Margaret died after 9 years.

In 1766 Watt got a job as a land surveyor marking out land for canals. Then in 1774 James Watt moved to Birmingham. In 1775 he went into partnership with Matthew Boulton and began making steam engines. His steam engines were used for pumping water out of mines and gradually he became a wealthy man. Then in 1776 James Watt married Ann MacGregor. They had 2 children.

By 1780 the Industrial Revolution was beginning to transform life in Britain and Watt adapted his steam engine to provide a rotary motion so they could be used to power machines in the new factories. In 1781 he made the sun and planet gear to do this. In 1785 steam engines were used to power machines in cotton mills for the first time. Meanwhile in 1782 Watt invented another major improvement the double-acting steam engine. In 1788 Watt invented the fly ball governor to regulate the speed of steam engines and in 1790 he invented a pressure gauge.

In 1785 James Watt was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

James Watt retired from business in 1800. Watt died on 25 August 1819 and he was buried in Birmingham. Finally, in 1882 a unit of electrical power was named the watt in his honor.

References

Уатт, Джеймс, [Электронный ресурс] URL: https://goo.gl/6XpQb5, дата доступа: 17.03.2019.

«100 Великих людей, ДЖЕЙМС УАТТ» [Электронный ресурс] URL: https://goo.gl/cW2gDv, дата доступа: 17.03.2019.

«Пять главных изобретений Джеймса Уатта» [Электронный ресурс] URL: https://goo.gl/WJ2bz8, дата доступа: 17.03.2019.

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