Étienne Lenoir

Jean Joseph Étienne Lenoir
Etienne Lenoir 1822-1900.jpg
Jean Joseph Étienne Lenoir
Born(1822-01-12)12 January 1822
Mussy-la-Ville, Luxembourg (now part of Belgium)
Died4 August 1900(1900-08-04) (aged 78)
La Varenne-Sainte-Hilaire
CitizenshipBelgian, French
Known forLenoir cycle, internal combustion engine, Electro plating
Scientific career

Jean Joseph Étienne Lenoir also known as Jean J. Lenoir (12 January 1822 – 4 August 1900[1]) was a Belgian engineer who developed the internal combustion engine in 1858. Prior designs for such engines were patented as early as 1807 (De Rivaz engine), but none were commercially successful. Lenoir's engine was commercialized in sufficient quantities to be considered a success, a first for the internal combustion engine.

He was born in Mussy-la-Ville (then in Luxembourg, part of the Belgian Province of Luxembourg since 1839). In 1838, he emigrated to France, taking up residence in Paris, where he developed an interest in electroplating. His interest in the subject led him to make several electrical inventions, including an improved electric telegraph.[1]

Lenoir engine

Lenoir motor
Lenoir gas engine 1860.jpg.

By 1859, Lenoir's experimentation with electricity led him to develop the first internal combustion engine which burned a mixture of coal gas and air ignited by a "jumping sparks" ignition system by Ruhmkorff coil,[2] and which he patented in 1860. The engine was a steam engine converted to burn gaseous fuel and thus pushed in both directions. The fuel mixture was not compressed before ignition (a system invented in 1801 by Philippe LeBon who developed the use of illuminating gas to light Paris), and the engine was quiet but inefficient,[3] with a power stroke at each end of the cylinder.[4] In 1863, the Hippomobile, with a hydrogen gas fueled, one cylinder, internal combustion engine, made a test drive from Paris to Joinville-le-Pont: top speed about 9 km in ~3 hours.[5]

Lenoir was an engineer at Petiene et Cie (Petiene & Company), who supported him in his founding of the companies of Corporation Lenoir-Gautier et Cie engines Paris and Société des Moteurs Lenoir in Paris in 1859,[6][3] with a capitalization of two million francs and a factory in the Rue de la Roquette,[3] to develop the engine, and a three-wheeled carriage constructed to use it. Although it ran reasonably well, the engine was fuel inefficient, extremely noisy, tended to overheat, and, if sufficient cooling water was not applied, seize up. Nevertheless, Scientific American reported, in September 1860, that the Parisian newspaper Cosmos had pronounced the steam age over.[7][6] By 1865, 143 had been sold in Paris alone, and production of Lenoir Gas Engines, by Reading Gas Works in London, had begun.[2]

Lenoir had completed work on his engine in 1859 and had a grand unveiling on January 23, 1860, for twenty guests. In his speech he said, "If it works, I will add carburetor heating, at a constant level, which will allow the use of petrol, or gasoline, or tar, or any resin". He turned on the illuminating gas valve, pushed the flywheel, and the engine came to life. In 1860, Lenoir received a patent for "an air motor expanded by gas combustion" from Conservatoire National Des Arts Et Métiers, no. N.43624 [6]

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