STEAM ENGINE? WASSAT? I STARTED OUT WITH ALKA-SELTZER AND SODA WATER IN A BOTTLE AND ATTACHED IT TO THE SKATEBOARD. THAT DIDN’T DO MUCH.” – KELLAN LUTZ
Thankfully, engines have progressed further than Lutz’s childhood invention – even if the principles of fuelling a vehicle or another machine via a chemical reaction are still valid. Our modern combustion engines go well beyond the baking-soda-vinegar type, and, in fact, many engines today don’t even rely on the same kind of chemical power source that earlier generations did. A motor (Latin: mōtor = “mover”) is a machine that performs mechanical work; it does so by transforming one type of energy (chemical, thermal, or electric) into propulsion. The earliest such device was based on the principles of converting thermal energy to movement in the first “steam engines”, courtesy of James Watt.
These steam engines, originally invented by Thomas Savery and Thomas Newcomen and successfully implemented by Watt in 1778, mark the beginning of the technical development of modern motors. Almost from the beginning, their uses went beyond simply powering fixed machines; with the invention of the high-pressure steam engine, they were used in locomobiles (a steerable, partially self-propelling steam engine for powering threshers or steam plows), steam locomotives, steamships, steam tractors, and steam rollers.