HowWatt’s Engine Changed the World

HowWatt’s Engine Changed the World

  1. Why was Watt’s engine more efficient than earlier steam engines?

Wattdeveloped a steam engine that was faster and more efficient thanother steam engines. This was built by creating a separate condenser.The condensing chamber was added separately from the cylinder tofacilitate cooling of steam to create a vacuum. Through thisseparation, the piston cylinder stayed at the same temperature as thesteam coming in the system. This reduced the amount of energy used toheat the piston cylinder in previous engines (Dickinson,2011).Similarly, the separation of the condenser required a lowertemperature level and less cooling. The new system in Watt’s enginereduced energy wasted on heating and cooling, thus enhancing itsefficiency.

  1. What are the basic principles of a steam engine’s operation, and what improvement did Watt make?

Steamengines operate by converting heat energy into mechanical energy. Thecombustion of fuel in steam engines takes place in an ignitionchamber separate from the engine resulting in the formation of steamto run the engine. This system largely relies on the valve system.The valves open-up for steam to get in under pressure. The differencein pressure created by the vacuum pushes the piston up and down torun the engine. Watt’s engine worked under the same principle, buthis system utilized a separate condenser, which ensured the cylinderretained much of the heat (Dickinson,2011).The valves allowed the flow of steam into the separate condenser forcondensation reducing the amount of energy needed for heating andcooling the system.

  1. What changes came about because of this new technology?

Beforethe introduction of the steam engine, people used power from othersources such as wind, water and animals. However, power generatedfrom these sources was not reliable as steam power. Therefore, theinvention of the steam engine was one of the major drivers of theindustrial revolution. This era lead to a shift in the source ofpower, which increased economic activities and stimulated the growthof urban centers (Wrigley,2010).Consequently, employment opportunities came up and more peoplesettled in the developing urban areas to work. This led to the growthof factories and improvement of people’s living standards. On asimilar note, this technology led to the growth of a new class ofworking children alongside adults in the factories because they coulddo the repetitive and easy tasks in the factories at a lower paycompared to the adults.

  1. Specifically, how did people live before and after the industrial revolution?

Beforethe beginning of industrial revolution in Europe, people lived underdeplorable conditions because employment was scarce. During thistime, there were few urban centers because trading activities wereless vigorous due to challenges of transportation (Wrigley,2010).People relied on animals and other forms of energy to move goods fromone place to another. However, after the creation of the steamengine, the lives of people changed because the industrial revolutionera saw the development of urban centers and the creation of jobs(Wrigley,2010).This led to the growth of a middle class characterized by people whoworked less at a relatively higher pay.

  1. In what sense(s) might we say that the industrial revolution is still not over?

Theindustrial revolution was characterized by the industrialization andurbanization of the European rural societies in the 18thand 19thcenturies (Wrigley,2010).Essentially, the industrial revolution is still not over today. Thisis because the industrialization and urbanization of societies arestill underway, especially in the developing countries in Asia andsub-Saharan Africa. These regions have not yet fully-fledged in termsof development. Most of them are in the process of opening-up to therest of the world, which is the key to facilitating trade, the majordriver of the industrialization process. This gradual growth in theseareas continues to facilitate the growth of existing urban centersand the establishment of new centers with more employmentopportunities being created, and a larger fraction of people movingfrom the rural to urban areas to work.


Dickinson,H. W. (2011).&nbspAshort history of the steam engine.Cambridge University Press.

Wrigley,E. A. (2010).&nbspEnergyand the English Industrial Revolution.Cambridge University Press.