Documents and Patents
Statement of the letter written by f. Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci on June 4 1853, where the two inventors express their wish, “to fix an authentic date for our experiments which we hope to keep secret for now”.
The public reading of the letter was done on June 5 1853 and the sealed envelope, sent with a letter to the Secretary of Correspondence of the Georgofili Academy, was submitted to the Secretary of the Acts as a deposit. (The original is kept at the Georgofili Accademy) Written request of f. Eugenio Matteucci and Felice Matteucci, dated September 11 1863 and sent to Ermolao Rubieri, Secretary of the Acts of the Georgofili Accademy, asking to publicly open the sealed envelope they had deposited on June 5 1853 at the Georgofili Accademy. (The original is kept at the Georgofili Accademy)
Statement of the opening of the sealed envelope deposited on June 5 1853 at the Georgofili Accademy.
The public opening was done during an ordinary assembly on September 20 1863. (The original is kept at the Georgofili Accademy) Copy of the first page of the sealed envelope deposited on June 5 1853, done the moment of the public opening. (The original is kept at the Georgofili Accademy) Temporary English patent request no. 1072 of May 13 1854 by Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci entitled: A new or improved mode of applying the explosion of gases as a motive power.
The patent request was never approved; only a certification was granted. June 12 1857 English patent no. 1655 of Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci, registered on December 1857 entitled: Improved apparatus for obtaining motive power from gases December 30 1857 Piedmont patent entitled: New method of using the explosion of a mixture of air and an inflammable gas to obtain a motor force or a useful force, Vol. VI, No. 759.
Sketches of the January 2 1858 Piedmont patent. On January 2 1858 Barsanti and Matteucci presented a patent request at Turin related to their first version of the counter piston engine.
The request bears the no. 700 of Volume VII of the Patent Office of the Reign of Piedmont. We do not have the text of the patent request, only a photo of the table which contains a drawing of the engine. We do not even know if it was a new patent or an extension of the patent granted three days earlier, on December 30 1857, at Turin.
The table is signed by Barsanti and Matteucci and bears mark of the Turin agency of Capuccio and Latini. January 9 1858 French patent no. 35009 of Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci entitled: New method of using the detonation of a mixture of air and an inflammable gas as a motor force.
October 28 1861 patent certificate of Barsanti, Matteucci and Babacci for the invention entitled: New improved method of using the explosion of a mixture of air and an inflammable gas or in general an explosive liquid to obtain a useful force, Vol.2 No 1397.
December 31 1861 English patent No. 3270 of Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci, registered on April 29 1862 entitled: Improved apparatus for obtaining motive power from explosive compounds. The patent was granted on behalf of and for Barsanti and Matteucci by William Edward Newton of the Patent Office, Chancery Lane 66, County of Middlesex.
March 31 1862 French patent No. 53609 granted to Felice Matteucci and registered on May 24 1862 entitled: Improved system of air and gas engine. Report of the Lombard Institute of Science, Literature and Art, published in the Acts of the Lombard Institute of Science, Literature and Art, Vol. III, issue XVII – XVIII, pp. 403 – 407, Milan 1863.
The report, entitled “A New Gas Engine invented by Mr. Barsanti and Mr. Matteucci”, was done in 1863 by a commission nominated by the Institute made up of Professor Codazza, Hajech and Magrini. The Commission completed test for the fuel consumption of their engine, which had been built in the Bauer Workshops, and compared it to the official findings of the Lenoir engine, published on April 4 1861, in the Mechanical School Acts of the Conservatory of Arts and Crafts of Paris and the Encouragement Society.
(original stamp of the relation conserved at the Ximenian Observatory) Certificate for second prize awarded by the Commission of the Royal Lombard Institute for the engine built by the Barsanti and Matteucci Society.
The opinion expressed by the Commission of the Royal Lombard Institute of Science, Literature and Arts, based on a thorough examination of the engine and confirmed by the test done, spurred the two inventors to continue their studies and research. But the two scientists were really expecting to win the contest.
Certificate which extended to all the Provinces of the State (May 6 1864 – vol. 5. No. 109) the industrial patent granted on December 30 1857 (vol. 2. No. 39) to Barsanti Eugenio and Matteucci Felice at Florence, entitled : Explosion of an explosive liquid to obtain a work force, Industrial Bulletin of the Reign of Italy, Volume I., page 434, No. 173.
1864 Certificate which extended to all the Provinces of the State (May 6 1864 – vol. 5. No. 110)the industrial patent granted on October 28 1861 (vol. 3. No. 141) to Barsanti Eugenio, Matteucci Felice and Babacci Gio. Battisti at Florence, entitled : New improved method of using the explosion of a mixture of air and an inflammable gas or in general an explosive liquid to obtain a useful force, Industrial Bulletin of the Reign of Italy, Volume I., pa 434, No. 174. 1864
Barsanti and Matteucci, after having made the prototype of their engine, continued their research and at the same time felt the need to patent their invention before others could copy its principles and usurp the merit. Thus, they began the procedures for obtaining a patent in England, the European leader in trade and industry.
So they turned to Haehner, the consul of Saxony in Leghorn, who had commercial relations with England, so that the procedures for obtaining the patent could be initiated.
After a short time Haehner informed our scientists that the British Patent Office had suspended the granting practices because other patents, similar to theirs, had been granted in the country (Brown, Wright, Barnett and Johnton and others); in addition, Eng. May, a talented technician of the Office itself, had expressed a clearly negative opinion on their invention.
Barsanti vigorously opposed this decision, in his opinion absurd, and asked Haehner to point out to the English Patent Office that his engine was not original in principle, as it used a gas explosion to get energy, but in the mechanical system utilized to ransform the explosion itself into mechanical work.
As a result, Barsanti and Matteucci obtained the long-awaited certificate, which was granted to them on 12 June 1854; the certification, which bears the n ° 1072, was published in the Morning Journal of London with the title Specifications of Eugene Barsanti and Felix Matteucci Obtaining Motive Power by the Explosion of Gases.
In a letter dated June 26, 1854, Haehner informs Matteucci of the achievement of the certification.
Encouraged by the achievement of the certificate and also by the experimental tests on the engine built by Officine Benini, on 21 October 1854, Barsanti and Matteucci formed the Association for the Construction of a new engine in order to exploit in the best way the future patents and the profits of the application of the invention.
The Association was open “to those who may like to contribute to this enterprise with profit sharing in proportion to the economic commitment”. This was a preview of the Company that would start up 5 years later.
In 1854, or perhaps the following year, Barsanti and Matteucci probably built an engine according to the English certificate project: a two-cylinder, delayed action engine, with twin cylinders operating on the same driving shaft.
Certainly, in 1856 a twin-cylinder engine complying with the English certificate of 1854 was built by the Benini Foundry, capable of developing a power of 8 horsepower.
The engine was used to drive some machine tools in the workshop of the Maria Antonia railway station in Florence, as reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Lombard Institute of Sciences, Letters and Arts, vol. III, fasc. XVII, Milan 1863.
After obtaining the certificate in England, Barsanti and Matteucci let it lapse due to non-payment of the installment or ignorance of the English laws regarding patents or for any unknown reason.
Meanwhile, the engine underwent new and continuous improvements, that enabled our scientists to apply for another and new patent in the same country.
This operation, according to the experts in the sector, had to be carried out in the strictest silence, without advertising even from the press or otherwise. In these terms, Mr Newton, a clerk at the London Patent Office, expressed himself.
On 12 June 1857, Barsanti and Matteucci finally obtained a second English patent, n ° 1655. The provisional certificate of the patent was sent to them on June 29th of the same year.
On 12 December 1857, the Great Seal Patent Office grants patent n° 1655 to Barsanti and Matteucci for the invention of an Improved Apparatus For Obtaining Motive Power From Gases.
The construction solutions for this patent were two: the first equipped with an auxiliary piston, the so-called counter piston, the second without the auxiliary piston.
The engine, which was of the delayed action type, still employed a rack and a spool equipped with a pawl for converting the longitudinal motion of the piston into a rotary one.
The cylinder was placed vertically with the head down; it was open at the top so as to allow the piston to move in the air. The lower part was closed by a steady iron cap fixed by bolts (similar to the heads of current engines).
The cap housed two conical valves (like those of current engines) with springs that open outwards. In the lower part of the cylinder (explosion chamber), where the explosion of the gaseous mixture took place, there were a second piston (counter piston), driven by a cam moved by the motor shaft; its function was to suck in the gaseous mixture and expel the products of the previous combustion from the cylinder.
A device similar to the slide valve of steam engines was placed on the side of the combustion chamber, which regulated the introduction of air and hydrogen into the combustion chamber through two communicating openings. The slide valve was put into action by two rods commanded by two cams rotated by the motor shaft.
In the same patent, Barsanti and Matteucci also presented the design of a simpler engine that could produce faster rotation. The engine did not have an auxiliary piston and the single piston ran the entire length of the cylinder, performing the same functions as the auxiliary one, that is, aspirating the gaseous mix and expelling it at the end of the cycle; the various phases were organized by a slide valve which would close the air and gas entrances. Substantially, it was the same engine which had been experimented in the Maria Antonia railroad station workshop at Florence, even though it differed because it had only one cylinder.
The electric spark in the gaseous mix occurred when the openings of the chamber were closed and the piston was rising in the cylinder, and not linked to the driving shaft by the pinion pawl that engaged the piston rack.
It should be noted that the text of this patent had never been brought to the attention of those who have been interested in the work of Barsanti and Matteucci (even if its existence was known). It precedes the French patent by a very short time and can therefore be considered the first important official patent of the Barsanti and Matteucci engine.
In addition to the above, two observations are reported.
First, Barsanti and Matteucci intended to address the issue of applying their engine to the locomotive. In fact, they write:
“ … when applying this Invention to a locomotive engine, as it is intended to supply the place of two double action (or high-pressure) cylinders, four cylinders must be employed, one on each of two pairs of driving wheels, the main shafts being made to drive these wheels by means of connecting rods or gearing combined in such a manner as to change the direction of rotation by means of clutches.”
Secondly, since the engine reached very high temperatures during operation, the combustion chamber was expected to be surrounded by a jacket where water could flow for cooling:
“…This cylinder is divided into two unequal parts, the smallest of which u,v,s,x, is intended for the working of the piston. This chamber is surrounded with a racket filled with water for the purpose of preventing it from attaining too high a temperature.”
On 9 January 1858, Barsanti and Matteucci also obtained the patent in France. The drawings contained therein are absolutely identical to those of the English patent, except for some symbols, which in some parts of the drawings are different. It is therefore the French patent for the same engine already patented in England.
The French patent was preceded by a similar patent obtained in the state of Piemonte on December 30, 1857 with No. 579 of Volume VI of the Savoy Patent Office. Barsanti and Matteucci had turned to the agency of Capuccio and Latini, which had carried out the related procedures.
On January 2, 1858, they filed a patent request for the first version of the opposing piston engine in Turin: the patent bears the number 700 of Volume VII of the Patent Office of the Kingdom of Piemonte.
In August 1861, Barsanti, Matteucci and Babacci, (the latter had begun to collaborate since February 1857), presented to the Patent Office of the Kingdom of Piemonte the request for a patent relating to a new type of deferred action engine with opposing pistons.
The patent was granted on October 28, 1861, Volume III No. 141, entitled New improved method to use the explosion of a mixture of atmospheric air and a flammable gas to achieve a useful force.
The examination of the patent shows that the text is similar to that of the English patent of December 31, 1861 n ° 3270, entitled Improved apparatus for obtaining motive power from explosive compounds, registered on April 29, 1862.
This patent also contains a reference to a machine already built by the inventors, which undoubtedly corresponds to the engine built by Escher-Wyss of Zurich.
In March 1862, Matteucci went to Paris on account of the New Engine Society, with the aim of renewing expired patents and claiming the priority of the invention over Lenoir’s direct-acting engine. On 31 March he filed a second French patent, n ° 53609, which was issued only in the name of Felice Matteucci, entitled Un systéme perfectionné de moteurs à air et à gaz, registered on 24 May 1862.
On July 16, 1862, the English patent was also registered in Belgium with the number 12922, issued to Barsanti, Matteucci and Babacci, with the wording “Brevet d’importation” and entitled Nouveaux Systèmes perfectionnés pour obtenir une force motrice par la détonnation d’un mélange d’air atmosphérique et d’un gaz inflammable et par une autre composition détonnante quelconque.
After Barsanti’s death and Matteucci’s ouster from the technical management of the New Engine Society, Felice continued to take care of the engine and to imagine new solutions, which he patented in Italy on 25 June 1866 with the patent n ° 3096, issued to Felice Matteucci and companions of Florence, entitled Double-acting igneous-pneumatic engine, registered in the Industrial Bulletin of the Kingdom of Italy Volume VI n ° 485.
Even Babacci, who had abandoned the New Engine Society in 1862, had continued to be interested in the internal combustion engine, so much so that on 5 April 1868 he presented in Italy the patent no.3849 entitled New gas engine systems, Babacci systems, registered in the Industrial Bulletin of the Kingdom of Italy on 7 May 1868 Volume VIII n ° 195.
The patents documented to date obtained by Barsanti, Matteucci and Babacci are summarized below.
|June 5, 1853
|Memorial lodged in the Gerogofili Academy in Florence
Report relating to some new experiments done by Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci
|May 13, 1854
|English Patent no. 1072
|Obtaining motor force with an explosion of gas
|June 12, 1857
|English Patent no. 1655
|Device for obtaining motor force
|December 30, 1857
|Piedmont Patent no. 579
|New method of using the explosion of a mixture of air and an inflammabole gas to obtain a motor force or a useful force
|January 2, 1858
|Piedmont Patent no. 700
|Engine with counter pistons
|January 9, 1858
|French Patent no. 35009
|New method of using the detonation of a mixture of air and an inflammable gas as a motor force
|October 28, 1861
|Piedmont Patent no. 1397
|New improved method of using the explosion of a mixture of air and an inflammabile gas or in general an explosive liquid to obtain a useful force.
|December 31, 1861
|English Patent no. 3270
|Improved device for obtaining motor force from explosive mixtures.
|March 31, 1862
|French Patent no. 53609
|Improved system of air and gas engine invented by Felice Matteucci
|July 16, 1862
|Belgian Patent no. 12922
|New improved systems for obtaining mortor force by means of an explosion of a mixture of air and an inflammable gas invented by Eugenio Barsanti, Felice Matteucci and Giovan Battista Babacci.
|June 25, 1866
|Italian Patent no. 3096
|Igneous-pneumatic engine invented by Felice Matteucci and collegues in Florence.
|May 7, 1868
|Italian Patent no. 3849
|New systems for gas engine, Babacci system.
The documentation for the English Patents were always prepared by the Newton Agency of London. The Belgian Patents were prepared by the Bosquet Agency.