Learn node: steam technology history and practices


Posted on 6th November 2008 by Judy Breck in energy | engineering

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This learn node links out to “The story of steam power [that] stretches from attempts to harness atmospheric pressure in the 1600s to the steam turbines we depend upon today.” (Science Museum Energy Hall, source of the flywheel image above.) A steam industry source, spiraxsarco, provides an excellent steam overview. A US Department of Energy Best Practices page for Steam provides extensive practical information and explains:

Over 45% of all the fuel burned by U.S. manufacturers is consumed to raise steam. Steam is used to heat raw materials and treat semi-finished products. It is also a power source for equipment, as well as for building heat and electricity generation. Many manufacturing facilities can recapture energy through the installation of more efficient steam equipment and processes.

An interesting page on nuclear warfare at Notre Dame Open Courseware includes the mention that military tanks were tried with steam power, but it was the internal combustion engine that made tanks successful.