steam engine


steam engine

noun

Definition of STEAM ENGINE

:  an engine driven or worked by steam; specifically :  a reciprocating engine having a piston driven in a closed cylinder by steam

First Known Use of STEAM ENGINE

1751

steam engine

noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Machine that uses steam power to perform mechanical work through the agency of heat (hence a prime mover). In a steam engine, hot steam, usually supplied by a boiler, expands under pressure, and part of the heat energy is converted into work. The rest of the heat may be allowed to escape, or, for maximum engine efficiency, the steam may be condensed in a separate apparatus, a condenser, at comparatively low temperature and pressure. For high efficiency, the steam must decrease substantially in temperature as it expands within the engine. The most efficient performance (i.e., the greatest output of work in relation to the heat supplied) is obtained by using a low condenser temperature and a high boiler pressure. See also Thomas Newcomen, James Watt.

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