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The Newcomen Pumping Engine: A Capstone Design Project

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1325.1 - 25.1325.22



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Paper Authors


Matthew A. Carr U.S. Naval Academy

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Matthe Carr is Permanent Military Professor of mechanical engineering and a nuclear submarine Officer.

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Michael V. Cristiano

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Patrick Caton U.S. Naval Academy

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Designing and Building an Instrumented, Scale Newcomen Steam EngineThe steam engine developed by Thomas Newcomen was the first successful reciprocatingengine. Newcomen’s first engine was built in 1712 and served to pump water from a coal minein England. This “atmospheric engine” condensed steam inside a piston and cylinder through awater spray injection process. The vacuum thus created in the cylinder, in combination withatmospheric pressure on the top of the piston, created significant forces which actuated areciprocating pump via an overhead walking beam. This reliable, yet inefficient, technologydominated the pumping business until well after the engine developments of James Watt, withthe last operating engines finally retired around 1930. In commemoration of the tercentenary ofNewcomen’s first engine, a group of Mechanical Engineering students are designing andbuilding an instrumented operating model of a Newcomen engine as their capstone designproject. This paper describes the design project, including thermo-fluids computer-aidedmodeling and physical testing of the constructed engine.

Carr, M. A., & Cristiano, M. V., & Caton, P. (2012, June), The Newcomen Pumping Engine: A Capstone Design Project Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22082

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