Thursday, 8 December 2016
No I hadn’t heard of it either. The worlds first internal combustion engine and the first internal combustion engine used to power a boat.
Nicephore and Claude Niepce came from a wealthy landowning family with estates near Chalon sur Saone. They had pursued various inventions before in 1807 successfully testing their combustion engine.
Installed in a boat the engine successfully powered the craft upstream and against the current on the River Saone at Chalon.
Amazingly the fuel used was lycopodium dust (from a species of club moss) . Despite the success, this fuel unsurprisingly was totally impractical and so further experiments were made with various oils and coal dust.
Hoping to promote the invention Claude arrived in London in 1813 and over several years managed to deplete the family fortunes before dying insane in 1828.
Younger brother Nicephore was also successful in producing the worlds first permanent photographic image in 1827. He died in 1833 and as a result of the squandering of the family fortunes by his brother was buried in a grave financed by the local municipality.
If your travelling or boating in the area – there is a Niepce museum at Saint Loup de Varennes in Chalon.