Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Father of thermodynamics: Nicolas Leonard Sadi Carnot (1796-1832)

Nicolas Leonard Sadi Carnot was born June 1, 1796 in the smaller Luxembourg Palace when his father was a member of the five-man executive Directory. His father Lazare Carnot (1753-1823) was an engineer and mathematician who founded the Ecole Polytechnique in Pairs.

He was just sixteen when he entered the Ecole Polytechnique in 1812. Sadi Carnot graduating the next year as a military engineer and saw active service in 1814.
Nicolas Leonard  Sadi Carnot 

Lazare Carnot fled to Warsaw in 1815, and then moved to Magdeburg, Germany in 1816. There in 1818 he saw a steam engine, and both he and his son Sadi Carnot became hooked on the problem of understanding how it worked.

The heat engines of interest to Sadi Carnot were steam engines applied to such tasks as driving machinery, ships and conveyors.

Carnot genius was that focus purely on the flow of heat between two thermal reservoirs. He idealized the workings of an engine as consisting of simple gas cycles and worked out its efficiency.

In 1824, when he was 28 years of age, he published Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire and on Machine Fitted to Develop That Power.

This book, Carnot’s only publication, was of great importance. Carnot was the first to focus attention on the fact that a steam, engine cannot function of every part of it is at the same temperature.

The book offered a path breaking analysis of the steam engine and a clear statement of the general principles governing how the flow of heat can be harnessed to produce work.
Father of thermodynamics: Nicolas Leonard Sadi Carnot (1796-1832)
Ecole Polytechnique 

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