A steam engine is a device that converts the potential energy that exists as pressure in steam to mechanical force. The steam locomotive was developed in the 1800’s to improve the speed of carrying goods on tramways. The age of steam locomotive correlates to the coal era. By the middle of the 20th century however, electric and diesel locomotives began replacing steam locomotives and by the end of the 1970s, most countries had completely replaced steam locomotives in commercial service.
The 21st Century Vision of Steam Traction project aims to explain the workings of the engine of a steam locomotive and to investigate why it was replaced by the coal powered electric locomotive. This project also explores the new technologies utilised in improving the old steam locomotive to make it more compatible in the 21st century.
Who Invented the Steam Engine?
The steam engine was not invented by only one person but like all other great inventions and great discoveries, came about after centuries of work by many scientists and engineers. Find out its history.
What is in the Steam Engine of the Locomotive?
The engine of the steam locomotive consists of different segments, each with its own important function. Learn about the main working components of the steam engine.
How does the Locomotive Work?
To help you understand how it works, we have designed two animations. One shows the flow of steam and gases in the engine while the other demonstrates the valve working. Find out about the engine mechanisme of the steam locomotive.
Which is Better?
The power supply in both electric and steam trains are essentially the same, that is from the burning of coal. So which is better, the former or the latter? Check out the comparisons that we made.
How can we Improve the Traditional Steam Locomotive?
Discover new designs which incorporate 20th and 21st century technology to improve these century-old locomotives for a better future.