Branca, Giovanni de

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b. 1571 Italy
d. 1640 Italy
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Italian architect who proposed what has been suggested as an early turbine, using a jet of steam to turn a wheel.
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Branca practised architecture at Loretto. In 1629 he published Le Machine: volume nuovo et di molto artificio, in which he described various mechanisms. One was the application of rolls for working copper, lead or the precious metals gold and silver. The rolls were powered by a form of smokejack with the gases from the fire passing up a long tube forming a chimney which, through gearing, turned the rolls. Another device used a jet of steam from a boiler issuing from a mouthpiece shaped like the head of a person to impinge upon blades around the circumference of a horizontal wheel, connected through triple reduction gearing to drop stamps, for pounding drugs. This was a form of impulse turbine and has been claimed as the first machine worked by steam to do a particular operation since Heron's temple doors.
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Further Reading
H.W.Dickinson, 1938, A Short History of the Steam Engine, Cambridge University Press (includes a description and picture of the turbine).
C.Singer (ed.), 1957, A History of Technology, Vols III and IV, Oxford University Press (provides notes on Branca).
RLH

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

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