Essay: Charles Algernon Parsons

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  • Subject area(s): Engineering essays
  • Reading time: 6 minutes
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  • Published on: August 28, 2019
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  • Number of pages: 2
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Engineering is the capacity to apply scientific knowledge in a more practical way in order to produce new utilities. These results are obtained if there is someone responsible to study problems, plan solutions, verify economic and technical viability so that theses productions or developments can be coordinated, this person is called engineer.

A big number of facilities and development of structures, materials, machines or systems would not exist without the arduous work, creativity and brilliant minds of engineers, who have been revolutionising the world.

Therefore, this essay contains data concerned the life of a spectacular British engineer, Charles Algernon Parsons, his achievements, ethical issues and the impact of his inventions on the environment.

Early Life

Born in the area of Hyde Park, London, on June 13, 1854, Charles Algernon Parsons was the youngest son of the legendary engineer and astronomer William Parson and Mary Parsons, and brother of Laurence Parsons, William Wilmer Parsons, John Parsons, Randall Parsons, and Richard Clare Parsons. (Scaife, 2000)

Appleyard (1933) states that as Charles’ father had an observatory at Birr Castle, Parsons town (now called Birr), in King’s County, Ireland (Offalay, Eire), were some eminent scholars were working. Thus, Charles and his brothers were firstly tutored by them. Following that he studied at Trinity College, in Dublin, for two years, and the he proceeded to Cambridge, in 1873, where he finished with distinction in Mathematics, in 1877. (Steam Turbine and other inventions of Sir Charles Parsons).

Charles Parsons was a man with a really inspiring story and an example of humility. According to Science Museum, even though he was son of an earl, he achieved his success by his own efforts and also his first work experience was as an apprentice in an engineering firm of Sir William Armstrong in Newcastle, for four years, where he started to develop his genial capacities which had as a result his astonishing creations.

After working for different firms, in 1889, he established his own company at Newcastle. (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Remarkable Inventions

Parsons’ dedication and hard work allowed him to become a great engineer and it is clearly seen in his inventions and achievements which are admired until nowadays. His brilliant mind and capacity to create was sufficient to make real what was supposedly seen as a possibility (History of Engineering, 1925). After many tentative made without achieving the desired result, Charles Parsons surprised all entities who tried to perform steam power with his superb invention: Steam Turbine, according to Steam Turbine and other inventions of Sir Charles Parsons.

This brilliant creation of Parsons, made in 1884, at the time he was a junior partaker, responsible for an electrical department in the firm Clarcke, Chapman and Co., still be todays’ major source of electricity (a range of 80% of the world’s electricity) (Electropaedia). This company was specialized in building electric dynamos. Thus, as there was loss of energy between engine and the dynamo he decided to build a machine which would use the steam power directly. (How Products are made)

Parsons (1942) claims that Charles’ machine did not differ from a waterwheel or a windmill as it follows the principle that the energy was derived by the movement of a fluid or gas. In addition, there were some implementations to enhance the functionality of the turbine and then an incredible output was achieved, a speed of 18,000 revolutions per minute, which was very higher comparing to the previous one (1,500 rpm).

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