College Essay Examples

Steam Turbine Invention

Steam Turbine Invention

“The massive progress that we experience in the contemporary century is, in a very great extent, contributed by the discovery and improvements of the steam turbine, and to the creative use of the different types of work that initial required physical powers of human beings.”- Robert H. Thurston. Using Thurston’s quote, it is evident that the steam engine is one of the most significant achievements of the human race. Since it is the most efficient energy source, steam turbines have significantly altered the character of innovations and provided new motivations and requirements for their development (Tanuma, 2017). Subsequently, the steam turbines have set a foundation for new structures to be developed in modern society. When turning back to the industrial revolution, the steam engine is considered one of the important inventions (Tanuma, 2017). It is challenging to examine modern societies without referencing the high dependence most industries relied on steam turbines to obtain power. The steam turbine has played an influential role in transforming societies since the industrial revolution era to date. Therefore, this paper will expound on the different aspects of the steam turbine, including the inventor, when and why the steam engine was invented, how the invention impacted the world, and how society still uses this invention.

The Inventor

The question of who deserves to be given credit for inventing the steam turbine has been a topic of discussion on different platforms. While some scholars believe that James Watt needs to be given all the credit, others believe that Thomas Newcomen deserves all the credit. However, Charles Parsons is believed to have invented the steam turbine in 1884. After that, different individuals modified and made it more efficient in effectively performing its functions (Leyzerovich, 2021). When Parsons was developing the steam turbine, he also used different stages. In every stage, its expansion was restricted to a level that only allowed the maximum extraction of kinetic energy without causing overspending of the turbine blades. Parsons worked at the Armstrong Engineering works in New castle. Additionally, Parsons served as a director in boards and electrical supply companies, including the Royal Society (1898), the Institute of Marine Engineers, and the British Association (Leyzerovich, 2021).

When and Why the Steam Turbine was invented

The modern steam turbine was first invented in 1884, and its invention resulted from the never-ending search for energy sources. After its invention, the steam turbine served as the primary source of power during the British industrial revolution and created a new world for every individual in the globe (Rolling, 2016). The emergence of the steam turbine helped maximize the production, efficiency, and reliability of most industries. Additionally, it helped reduce the amount of human labor, especially in activities that needed more power (Rolling, 2016). For instance, steam turbines were widely used in the mining sector, whereby Cornish miners relied on steam turbines to remove water from mine shafts. This serves as a major achievement since most miners faced problems with flooding in the mines hence preventing them from working. Without removing this water, most miners worried that the mines would be shut down (Rolling, 2016). However, the emergence of this invention made it possible for water to be pumped out of the mines without using much energy.

What the world was like before the invention of the Steam Turbine

Just like Thurston notes, steam turbines are among the important inventions made by humanity in the face of the industrial revolution. Before its invention, most industries and mills were mainly driven by wind, horses, or even man. Although water was a good source of power, most manufacturing industries had to be located near water sources such as rivers (Tomory, 2016). However, it was unreliable since some rivers would dry up or freeze during winter, leaving the industries with no alternative. Additionally, winds would sometimes not blow, delaying production services in these industries (Tomory, 2016). Before the emergence of steam turbines, the milling industries also relied heavily on horses to perform various activities. For instance, horses were widely used in lugging buckets of water from the flooded mines. However, since it was a tedious process, horses had to take breaks between shifts to ensure they remained in shape (Tomory, 2016). With the horse pulley system proving to be slow and inadequate, scientists started thinking about alternative energy sources.

How the invention affected society

The invention of steam turbines has affected society both positively and negatively. One way through which they have positively impacted societies is that they provided an efficient way of powering industries and factories. As a result, this helped save them the stress of manually providing power (Mihail–Vlad, 2018). Additionally, before the emergence of steam turbines, most factories had to be located near rivers where water could provide energy. However, the emergence of steam turbines encouraged industries and factories to be located anywhere. However, one of the negative impacts relates to the increase in global warming and adverse impacts on the aquatic organisms (Mihail–Vlad, 2018). The negative effect on aquatic organisms resulted from the heated water being directed to rivers and ponds, hence killing the aquatic life (Mihail–Vlad, 2018).

How and if this invention is being used Today

Since the emergence of steam turbines, different individuals have taken part in refining them into sophisticated technology. However, it was mainly used during the industrial revolution period. In the modern era, electricity and internal combustion engines using gas and diesel have replaced steam turbines. Despite such changes, steam power is still widely used in different applications. For instance, some electrical plants still use steam generated from burning coal in the production of electricity.


As Thurston noted, the steam turbines are one of the major milestones made by man during the industrial revolution period. Countries such as the U.S, England, and regions in Western Europe can attribute their great power and status due to steam turbines. However, with the discovery of fossil fuels and the emergence of electricity globally, most industries migrated into using electricity from fossil fuels.  Despite such changes, steam turbines are regarded as the premier agents of the actual industrial revolution that transformed the entire globe.



Leyzerovich, A. S. (2021). Steam turbines for modern fossil-fuel power plants. River Publishers.

Mihail–Vlad, V. (2018). Advantages and disadvantages of different types of modern marine propulsions. Journal of Marine Technology and Environment Year 2018, Vol. 22, 57.

Rolling Jr, J. H. (2016). Reinventing the STEAM engine for art+ design education.

Tanuma, T. (2017). Introduction to steam turbines for power plants. In Advances in Steam Turbines for Modern Power Plants (pp. 3-9). Woodhead Publishing.

Tomory, L. (2016). Technology in the British industrial revolution. History Compass14(4), 152-167.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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