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Artistic Interpretation: 'Steam Turbine' Patent

Sir Charles Parsons was born in London in 1854 but spent most of his young life at the family estate at Birr Castle in Ireland. He graduated from St.John’s College Cambridge University in 1877 with a first-class honours degree in mathematics and began work as an apprentice at an engineering firm in Newcastle. A brilliant engineer with a keen scientific mind, by 1884 he was on the brink of a huge breakthrough: the invention of the multi-stage steam turbine. A steam turbine is a device for extracting energy from high pressure steam and turning it into mechanical rotation. This in turn can be used to generate power. Parsons’ turbine operated in a series of stages; during each stage the expansion of steam was restricted to the smallest possible extent, extracting the maximum amount of energy without allowing the turbine blades to turn too fast and damage the equipment. This represented a revolutionary step forward for electrical engineering which Parsons continued to refine during the 1890s, creating a legacy which continues to this day where roughly 90% of the electricity generated in the USA comes from steam turbines.

Tasked by the UK Foreign Office's Great for Imagination Campaign to artistically interpret key patents throughout history to date. A project that spanned 2017 collaborating with the wonderful Ted Humble Smith. Featured on the BBC One Show.

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