Rateau, Auguste Camille-Edmond

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b. 13 October 1863 Royan, France
d. 13 January 1930 Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
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French constructor of turbines, inventor of the turbo compressor and a centrifugal fan for mine ventilation.
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A don of the Ecole Polytechnique and the Ecole Supérieure des Mines in Paris, Rateau joined the French Corps des Mines in 1887. Between 1888 and 1898 he taught applied mechanics and electro technics at the Ecole des Mines in St-Etienne. Trying to apply the results of his research to practise, he became into contact with commercial firms, before he was appointed Professor of Industrial Electricity at the Ecole Supérieure des Mines in Paris in 1902. He held this position until 1910, although he founded the Société Anonyme Rateau in Paris in 1903 which by the time of his death had subsidiaries in most of the industrial centres of Europe. By the middle of the nineteenth century, when the increasing problems of ventilation in coal mines had become evident and in many countries had led to several unsatisfactory mechanical constructions, Rateau concentrated on this problem soon after he began working in St-Etienne. The result of his research was the design of a centrifugal fan in 1887 with which he established the principles of mechanical ventilation on a general basis that led to future developments and helped, together with the ventilator invented by Capell in England, to pave the way for the use of electricity in mine ventilation.
Rateau continued the study of fluid mechanics and the applications of rotating engines, and after he had published widely on this subject he began to construct many steam turbines, centrifugal compressors and centrifugal pumps. The multicellular Rateau turbine of 1901 became the prototype for many others constructors. During the First World War, when he was very active in the French armaments industry, he developed the invention of the automatic supercharger for aircraft engines and later diesel engines.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Académie des Sciences, Prix Fourneyron 1899, Prix Poncelet 1911, Member 1918.
Bibliography
1892, Considérations sur les turbo-machines et en particulier sur les ventilateurs, St- Etienne.
1900, Traité des turbo-machines, Paris.
1907, Ventilateurs centrifuges à haute pression, Paris.
1908. Développement des turbines à vapeur d'échappement, Paris. 1917, Notice sur les travaux scientifiques et techniques, Paris.
Further Reading
H.H.Suplee, 1930, obituary, Mechanical Engineering 52:570–1.
L.Leprince-Ringuet (ed.), 1951, Les inventeurs célèbres, Geneva: 151–2 (a comprehensive description of his life and the importance of his turbines).
WK

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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