Monday, 6 July 2020

1334) Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford

Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, (1753 – 1814). American-born British physicist and inventor, whose challenges to established physical theory were part of the 19th-century revolution in thermodynamics. He served as lieutenant-colonel of the King's American Dragoons, part of the British Loyalist forces, during the American Revolutionary War. After the end of the war he moved to London, where his administrative talents were recognized when he was appointed a full colonel, and in 1784 he received a knighthood from King George III. A prolific designer, Thompson also drew designs for warships. He later moved to Bavaria and entered government service there, being appointed Bavarian Army Minister and re-organizing the army, and, in 1791, was made a Count of the Holy Roman Empire.

Thompson was an active and prolific inventor, developing improvements for chimneys, fireplaces and industrial furnaces, as well as inventing the double boiler, a kitchen range, and a drip coffeepot. He invented a percolating coffee pot following his pioneering work with the Bavarian Army, where he improved the diet of the soldiers as well as their clothes.
The Rumford fireplace created a sensation in London when he introduced the idea of restricting the chimney opening to increase the updraught, which was a much more efficient way to heat a room than earlier fireplaces. He and his workers modified fireplaces by inserting bricks into the hearth to make the side walls angled, and added a choke to the chimney to increase the speed of air going up the flue. The effect was to produce a streamlined air flow, so all the smoke would go up into the chimney rather than lingering, entering the room, and often choking the residents. It also had the effect of increasing the efficiency of the fire, and gave extra control of the rate of combustion of the fuel, whether wood or coal. Many fashionable London houses were modified to his instructions, and became smoke-free.
Thompson became a celebrity when news of his success spread. His work was also very profitable, and much imitated when he published his analysis of the way chimneys worked. In many ways, he was similar to Benjamin Franklin, who also invented a new kind of heating stove.
The retention of heat was a recurring theme in his work, as he is also credited with the invention of thermal underwear.

In 1804, he married Marie-Anne Lavoisier, the widow of the great French chemist Antoine Lavoisier.

- "A handsome, red-headed, pearly toothed individual..."  https://books.google.it/books…

- "The child has a striking similarity to Benjamin Thompson - red hair, blue eyes, and crested eyebrows."  https://books.google.it/books…



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