Timeline of the Energy Industry: 1700’s till now

Timeline in the energy industryGULF OF MEXICO - APRIL 21: In this handout image provided be the U.S. Coast Guard, fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 21, 2010 near New Orleans, Louisiana. An estimated leak of 1,000 barrels of oil a day are still leaking into the gulf. Multiple Coast Guard helicopters, planes and cutters responded to rescue the Deepwater Horizon's 126 person crew. (Photo by U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images)

The timeline of the Energy Industry reveals a lot about man’s quest to harness and use the freely abundant natural resources.

this energy timeline will include all the events that have occurred in history which affected the industry.

Of course, we can not cover all events exhaustively, but we will feature some landmark events.

According to the encyclopedia Britannica, Thomas Newcomen was baptized February 28, 1664, DartmouthDevon, England—died August 5, 1729, in London, British engineer and inventor of the atmospheric steam engine, a precursor of James Watt’s engine

Thomas’s invention was a major breakthrough in the energy industry, as it paved way for other inventions, such as the one which James Watt later did.

Thomas Newcomen assisted by John Cawley developed this engine after they realized that using horses consumes much energy.

James Watt, (born January 19, 1736, Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland—died August 25, 1819, Heathfield Hall, near Birmingham, Warwick, England),

the James Watt steam engine set the pace for the industrial revolution, in fact, it was one of the major driving forces of the revolution.

The Watt engine was also known as Boulton and Watt steam engine this is because James Watt was assisted by Mathew Boulton during the course of the project.

James Watt’s steam engine design was unique, in the sense that it consumes less fuel compared to the already existing designs.

James Watt was also relentless in his efforts to develop his work and in no distant time he introduced the double design, which is two-cylinder.

Watts’s design was operational for years and was used by many steam-powered engines, it was very much later that his designs received improvements.

Watt continued to work on his model and developed a method which he used to seal the piston in the cylinder, reducing energy losses during engine stroke.

These improvements lead to an increase in the efficiency of the steam engine.

Horace Bénédict de Saussure was born 17 February 1740, in Conches, near Geneva (today in Switzerland but then an independent republic), and died in Geneva 22 January 1799.

Horace Bénédict’s interest in nature was sparked up by Charles Bonnet, who was a naturalist, Charles made Horace Bénédict develop a great interest in botany (A branch of biology that deals with the study of plants)

using various instruments such as thermometer and barometer, Saussure was able to conduct a lot of studies.

With these instruments, Saussure showed that seasonal changes in temperature take six months to penetrate to a depth of 30 ft. in the earth

he also proved that the bottom water of deep lakes is uniformly cold at all seasons.

1767, Saussure made a notable breakthrough in technology when he invented the first solar oven.

Saussure became an elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot was a renowned French physicist.

The book which was a 188 paged book proved to be a landmark in the history of thermodynamics.

Carnot in his paper explains that the fall of heat from hot to cold was responsible for the motive power.

Carnot’s paper brought out three major points worthy of note when considering the working principle of engines.

  1. the concept of a reversible process
  2. analyzing a circle is more appropriate than analyzing an open system when considering the working principle of an engine.
  3. work is done when heat moves from hot to cold.

Louis Agassiz was credited for the idea of continental Glaciation in 1840.

in his hypothesis he stated that much of North America was covered by a glacier and the glacier was two miles thick, extending its boundaries to the Midwest.

this was a rather upsetting hypothesis for some because it seems to conflict with other known ideas of that time.

despite opposition the hypothesis survived 160 years of severe testing, one of the reasons being that no one could come up with something better

Edwin Drake, known as the father of petroleum engineering drilled only 3 wells during his lifetime, the historic well less than 70 feet drilled in Titusville Pennsylvania was just enough to earn him the title ” father of petroleum engineering”.

In our article old oil plus new oil we discussed how Connel Edwin Drake’s well led to a major revolution in the oil and gas world.

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John D Rockefeller was a force to be reckoned with in the general his of the energy industry, specifically the oil and gas industry.

He rose amidst great struggles in the early days of the oil rush, to build a refinery which later became the major refinery in the United States.

Rockefeller brought his competition to their knees by buying them off and expanding his empire.

Rockefeller grew to become one of the richest men in history and the richest man of his time.

At the mention of Nobel no doubt you may think of the prestigious Nobel prize award.

Nobel prize award was named after Alfred Nobel who not only invented the Nobel prize award but also invented dynamite.

According to the New York Times, Robert Nobel was sent south from Russia to find walnut trees to use as stocks for rifles that the family was manufacturing for the czar’s army.

Instead, he stumbled on a fledgling oil industry on the shores of the Caspian. The world was in the first stages of oil fever, and the market was dominated by John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. Mr. Nobel was so captivated that he spent the ”walnut money” to buy a small refinery and a kerosene plant.

Alfred Nobel, a chemist, was skeptical of the project, but Robert persuaded the third brother, Ludwig, to come to Baku and help.

The process which drives our machines today is now known as Otto cycle’

the cycle is the conversion of chemical energy to thermal energy and then to kinetic energy or motion.

Sir Joseph Swan, an English chemist, and physicist developed what was known as the incandescent light bulb, and used it to light the Savoy Theater in London.

Thomas Edison was the founder of the Edison electric company, he achieved 1093 patents (jointly and singly)

Edison is today acknowledged as the man behind the supply and generation of electricity in commercial quantities.

Thomas Edison invented the following just to list but a few

  • Electricity
  • Phonograph
  • Motion picture camera
  • Alkaline Battery

H.L Williams used a pier to support a land rig next to an existing field and drilled what is now known as the first offshore well in Santa Barbara California.

After five years of H.L Williams Breakthrough, not less than 150 offshore wells were drilled.

Wind energy has been a major source of energy for man prior to the development of fossil fuels.

boats and ships sailed the vast seas and oceans through the energy provided by the wind.

the Chinese have been and has continued to be a force to be reckoned with in the generation of energy through the wind.

As the years go by, mankind started to wonder if fossil fuel was a curse or a cure.

these debates arise as the by-product of fossil fuels continue to harm and change the climate.

humans saw the need to take action in other to cushion the effect of climate change and global warming.

Ever heard of “operation desert storm”? well that was an airstrike led by the US to force Sadam Hussien forces out of Kuwait.

the Persian Gulf has been known to be a prolific area in the production of oil and gas, the gulf crisis affected the production and sales of crude oil from that part of the world.

the country Russia is the country with the highest natural gas reserves.

According to the “Oil and gas journal” Russia’s battered oil industry will undergo the most drastic changes since the 1917 Bolshevik revolution if a draft decree by President Boris Yeltsin is implemented despite stiff opposition by Communists and ultranationalists. The proposal specifies that oil production, refining, and distribution would no longer be exempt from Russia’s move toward privatization

Timeline of the Energy Industry

Petrobras hit the ground running, from the drilling of the first offshore well by H.L William, till the time when this Brazilian energy giant conquered the depth of the sea.

Petrobras is no longer seeing depths as a barrier to exploration and production of oil and gas, instead, they are making even much bigger plan on exploring ultra-deep seas

Featured image by altenergymag.com

About the Author

Ucheson energy and Tech is formed by a Group of Energy-Tech Enthusiasts.

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