Evolution of Boilers

Published: 2021-07-10 10:20:05
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Category: Evolution

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The first to recognize the value of steam as a resource was a Greek Mathematician named Hero. This first steam device had no real purpose, but paved the way for more creative uses of steam in the future. It would not be until 2,000 years later that steam became a useful tool for mankind. The first steam engine was produced in 1698 by Thomas Savery. The engine drove a water pump. The beam engine was developed soon after.
The next type of boilers were fire tube boilers. They still could not meet the need for higher pressures. They also had a key problem, a tendency to explode. The development of the water tube boiler followed the basis design of Savery’s 1698 engine. The first successful water tube boiler was manufactured by Babcock & Wilcox Company in 1866. In 1881, the Brush Electric Light Company began operations using four boilers that produced 292 horsepower. The next improvement was the bent tube design. The bent tube design was more efficient and was a smaller unit with the same power as previous designs. These early steam engines were used primarily to produce heat and for industry. As the use of electricity became more prevalent, residential users began to appreciate the steam boiler.
Industry continued to demand greater efficiency and reliability. The next major step in the boiler design used pulverized coal and water cooled furnace. This lengthened the lifespan of the boiler by reducing the formation of slag on the refractory walls. In the 1930s the water-cooled and boiler surface were combined into a single unit. This led to the ability to preassemble a unit and deliver the completed unit to the area, rather than having to assemble it on site. The next major design improvement involved the use of nuclear fission as a fuel source. The addition of ribbed tubes increased this capacity even more.
Current research and design activities focus on finding better materials, structural analysis, and fuel and water chemistry to spark advancements in boiler technology.

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