A steam engine is an external combustion engine that makes use of the potential energy that exists as pressure in steam, converting it to mechanical work. Steam engines were used in pumps, locomotive trains and steam ships, and were essential to the industrial revolution
. They are still used for electrical power generation using a steam turbine.
A steam engine needs a boiler to boil water to produce steam under pressure. Any heat source can be used, but the most common is a wood or coal fire. Anything that can be burned can be used as fuel for the fire: paper, trash, used crankcase oil, ground-up corncobs, manure, natural gas, gasoline, high proof alcohol, dry grass, hay, dry weeds, etc. The steam expands and pushes against a piston or turbine, whose motion does the work to turn the wheels.
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