Steam Propulsion Ships

Steam Propulsion Ships

Steam Propulsion Ships

We have already studied about ship diesel engines in a previous article, and today we would be taking a look at steam propulsion ships. Life at sea has changed for sure between now and then but still it would be interesting to know more about steam propulsion ships.

We know that on the external side, there are different types of propellers which help a ship move forward (or backward) but the motive power supplying rotation to the blades could range from steam, nuclear, diesel or even electrical power.

Today we are going to discuss about steam as the motive power used in steam propulsion ships. As the name itself suggests it is a kind of propulsion in which steam is used to propel the ship forward.

A steam propulsion ship is an old concept. This was the first method that was ever used to propel a ship mechanically. This concept is not much in use now. However, it is definitely interesting to know how the concept started and developed. In the early nineteenth century men were used to propel the ship or boats with oars. Wind and sails were used to propel when the ships would reach the high seas.

In was in the early parts of the nineteenth century that steam propulsion ships were used. Coal was used to propel these ships. Coal fired steam engine is what was initially used to propel the ships in those days. It was found that coal fired steam engines can propel the ships faster. They were used in war ships because of the speed. Slowly they were introduced in commercial ships too. This changed the way ships were propelled forever. No more were men used to propel the ships. Even today humans are used to propel only those ships that are small in size, rather only boats. Slowly even sails were done with. Today you will not find sails in any ships.

Steam propulsion ships would use wood, coal and fuel oil initially for propulsion. These would cause a lot of pollution. The first steamboat was Robert Fulton’s Clermont. It was in 1807 that this was built. Later on in 1812 a boat was built in Europe with a steam engine and it was called the comet. The ship boilers would use sea water in the initial days.

As people saw the advantages of steam propulsion ships more and more research and development was started in the field. The sea water was no more used in the boilers. It was instead replaced by surface condenser. Screw propellers were used instead of paddled wheels. The changes went on and the steam propulsion ships slowly became very popular everywhere.

Charles Algernon Parsons developed the concept if the steam turbine. This played a very vital role in the history of the steam propulsion ships. He raised the power to weight ratio. The steam engines had many advantages. As a result they were extensively used. LNG is also used in steam turbines.

There are some nuclear powered steamed ships that can be located today. In these steam engines the nuclear reactors heat the water and create the steam. This steam drives the turbines and propels the ships. This is the most recent version of steam propulsion that is being used in the ships. This mechanism is mostly used in army ships and in submarines. They are very good for the operation of submarine. With this technology the submarines can remain under water and also at high speed for a longer period of time.

Even commercial vehicles do use this technique but they are very few in number. One such example is of Arktika class icebreaker. The reason why this propulsion is not used in commercial ships is that nuclear power is too expensive to attain by these ships. The economical aspect of using this technique reduces its popularity. This is exactly why commercial ships prefer diesel engines.

We have tried to explain all about these ships and hope this will help you to understand the concept of steam propulsion ships better.

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