May 5, 2009 5:23 AM Subscribe
"Few Victorian inventions have the grace and charm of the Ictíneo, the series of two wooden submarines built by Narcís Monturiol i Estarrol in the second half of the nineteenth century ... The thinking at the time was that it was almost impossible to run a steam engine underwater because it would use up all the oxygen and convert the inside of the ship into an oven. To overcome this, Monturiol invented a chemical furnace based on a reaction between potassium chlorate, zinc and manganese dioxide - a process that produced enough heat to boil water to run the steam engine. To complement this ingenuity, the reaction gave off oxygen as a by-product ... While his competitors devised submarines for military purposes, Monturiol had alternative ambitions. The man was a communist, a revolutionary and a utopian who regarded his invention as a way of improving the life of the working class ... "
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments