Barsanti, Eugenio

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b. 1821 Italy
d. 1864 Liège, Belgium
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Italian co-inventor of the internal combustion engine; lecturer in mechanics and hydraulics.
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A trained scientist and engineer, Barsanti became acquainted with a distinguished engineer, Felice Matteucci, in 1851. Their combined talents enabled them to produce a number of so-called free-piston atmospheric engines from 1854 onwards. Using a principle demonstrated by the Swiss engineer Isaac de Rivaz in 1827, the troublesome explosive shocks encountered by other pioneers were avoided. A piston attached to a long toothed rack was propelled from beneath by the expansion of burning gas and allowed unrestricted movement. A resulting partial vacuum enabled atmospheric pressure to return the piston and produce the working stroke. Electric ignition was a feature of all the Italian engines.
With many successful applications, a company was formed in 1860. A 20 hp (15 kW) engine stimulated much interest. Attempts by John Cockerill of Belgium to mass-produce small power units of up to 4 hp (3 kW) came to an abrupt end; during the negotiations Barsanti contracted typhoid fever and later died. The project was abandoned, but the working principle of the Italian engine was used successfully in the Otto-Langen engine of 1867.
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Bibliography
13 May 1854, British Provisional Patent no. 1,072 (the Barsanti and Matteucci engine).
12 June 1857, British patent no. 1,655 (contained many notable improvements to the design).
Further Reading
The Engineer (1858) 5:73–4 (for an account of the Italian engine).
Vincenzo Vannacci, 1955, L'invenzione del motore a scoppio realizzota dai toscani Barsanti e Matteucci 1854–1954, Florence.
KAB

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

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