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Steam Engine
Thomas Newcomen
Submitted by: Geoff Howard
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In 1699 Thomas Savery had produced his 'Miner's friend', a steam pump without moving parts which extracted water by condensing steam to create vacuum. Denis Papin developed the idea to cause a piston to be pulled down against a weight but it was Thomas Newcomen who built the first practical steam engine in 1712 to extract water from Cornish tin mines. Later, while James Watt worked as a mathematical instrument maker to Glasgow University, he was asked to repair a working model of a Newcomen engine and realised that to improve efficiency a separate condensing cylinder was required to avoid the continuous heating and cooling of a single cylinder. In 1769 Watt patented his condensing engine and in 1775 agreed a partnership with Matthew Boulton.