The invention of the steam engine has long been considered the driving force behind the Industrial Revolutions. But a recent study suggests that this isn’t quite accurate. Instead, it argues that coal was just as critical to industrialization as steam power—and that some other events had to occur first for coal-powered machinery to take off.
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- 1 The Industrial Revolutions is usually attributed to the advent of steam power in the 18th century.
- 2 A fresh study says that coal was also critical.
- 3 But other events had to occur first.
- 4 The use of coal for industrial purposes was driven by advances in mining technology, including pumps and steam engines.
- 5 As demand grew, the need arose to transport coal from mines to where it was needed.
- 6 In addition, the spread of railroads facilitated international trade and the shipment of coal across continents.
- 7 The Industrial Revolutions was driven by two key factors in addition to steam power
The Industrial Revolutions is usually attributed to the advent of steam power in the 18th century.
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The Industrial Revolutions is usually attributed to the advent of steam power in the 18th century. The period was marked by profound change in the nature of work, life and society. It saw great innovation in the use of steam power, which led to rapid economic growth as well as major social upheaval.
The term “Industrial Revolutions” was first used by French economist Jean Baptiste Say (1767-1832) who believed that long-term economic growth could be achieved only through increasing productivity through technological advances rather than increased inputs like labor or land.
A fresh study says that coal was also critical.
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A fresh study says that coal was also critical. The Industrial Revolutions was driven by cheap energy from coal, which powered steam engines and steel production. But before the invention of the blast furnace in 1784, iron could be made only in small quantities using charcoal or coke (a refined form of coal). So a lot of the iron produced during this period was still made using wood as fuel.
The new research suggests that by 1850, Britain’s demand for iron exceeded its supply by about 10 percent–and most of that gap was filled with imports from Sweden and Spain that were produced using charcoal rather than coke-based processes.
But other events had to occur first.
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But other events had to occur first. The Industrial Revolutions started in Great Britain, which had a large supply of coal and iron ore. It was also the first country to experience sustained economic growth due to its access to these resources and technological advancements that made it possible for people to manufacture goods on an industrial scale. As other countries began developing their own industries based on these same principles, they too saw similar economic growth rates as those observed during this time period in Great Britain’s history–but only after their own infrastructures could support such activity.
The use of coal for industrial purposes was driven by advances in mining technology, including pumps and steam engines.
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The use of coal for industrial purposes was driven by advances in mining technology, including pumps and steam engines. Pumps were used to drain water from coal mines, which allowed miners to dig deeper. Steam engines powered the pumps, allowing them to work faster than their predecessors. These machines also powered other machines: for example, steam engines were attached onto trains so they could travel more quickly and efficiently than previous methods allowed
As demand grew, the need arose to transport coal from mines to where it was needed.
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As demand grew, the need arose to transport coal from mines to where it was needed. The answer was a variety of methods that evolved over time.
For example, in the late 1700s and early 1800s horse drawn carts were used to carry coal by land. The same principle applies today: if you want something transported from point A to point B, you’ll probably use an automobile or truck instead of asking someone on foot or horseback (or even camel) because they’re faster and more efficient than other methods of transportation like walking or riding horses/camels/etc..
In addition, the spread of railroads facilitated international trade and the shipment of coal across continents.
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In addition, the spread of railroads facilitated international trade and the shipment of coal across continents. Railroads linked the major industrial centers of Europe and North America, making it possible for workers to travel from one factory town to another without having to rely on ships or wagons. These new modes of transportation were built in parallel with the development of coal mines, which made it even easier for people to get their hands on this precious resource.
The key innovation that drove this rapid expansion was an improved version of Thomas Newcomen’s atmospheric steam engine (patented 1712), invented by James Watt in 1765 and later refined by him into what we now know as a reciprocating engine–that is, one that moves back-and-forth rather than up-and-down like an atmospheric engine does.* This led directly not only towards greater demand but also better efficiency:
- Note: A more complete description may include mention here about how Watt worked closely with Scottish engineer William Murdoch at first before separating ways due partly because Murdoch wanted royalties while Watt wanted full credit; then later after helping others improve upon his design including Matthew Boulton who later bought out Boulton & Watt which became known simply as “Boulton & Sons” after Matthew died leaving them all behind; then finally ending up at John Wilkinson’s firm where they built engines together until Wilkinson retired from business altogether around 1825 after which time there was no longer much need for steam power since railways had already begun replacing them throughout Britain – hence why we see few examples left today outside museums!
The Industrial Revolutions was driven by two key factors in addition to steam power
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- Coal. The importance of coal in the Industrial Revolutions is widely known, but it’s worth noting that it was just as critical to the development of steam power as wood was. Coal provided an inexhaustible source of fuel for industrial processes, and steam engines were originally designed to pump water out of coal mines–not only enabling miners to dig deeper, but also providing a means for transporting coal across continents via railroads.*
- Steam Power. Steam engines played a major role in powering both factories and transportation systems during this period.* Railroads facilitated international trade and shipment of raw materials across continents, making them vital components of any industrial revolutions economy.*
The Industrial Revolutions is often thought of as a period in which technology transformed society. But it was also driven by other factors, including coal and railroads. The use of these resources helped spur growth in many countries around the world and paved the way for modern industrialization. These findings suggest that the Industrial Revolutions may not have happened at all if it weren’t for these two key factors–and that we still owe them thanks!
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