- Steam Engine
The discovery of Steel introduces the Troopship, a workhouse naval transport that provides basic oversea cargo capacity during the Modern Age.
Steel was made in small quantities almost as soon as men learned to work iron, but it was sporadic and the processes not well understood. Once the iron ’blast’ furnace was introduced (first in China in the 8th century AD, then in Europe by Abraham Darby in 1709) iron could be manufactured in quantity, but steel in quantity and consistent quality remained elusive. Consequently, the first machinery in the factories of the late 18th century were made of wrought and cast iron and wood, and the first steam locomotives and railroad equipment likewise.
In 1851 the Bessemer Process was invented, which allowed large quantities of steel to be made in "converters" that worked iron into steel. The Siemens-Martin Regenerative Smelting Oven followed this in 1863 and in 1864 by the Open Hearth Furnace, which in the early twentieth century was the most common steel-making process. By 1878 the original open hearth processes were modified so that they could also remove impurities from the molten metal, and the era of cheap, mass-produced quality steel began. Skyscrapers, larger railroad engines, longer and safer bridges all became possible with steel as a common, inexpensive building material. The most profound effect, though, was on the ocean. Steel-hulled ships grew enormously in size compared to iron or wood built vessels. By the early 1900s the average cargo ship carried over 8000 tons, whereas its wooden predecessor in 1800 carried only 2000 tons at best. Combined with new steel warships and steel-hulled submarines, this issued in a new chapter in man’s conquest and exploitation of the sea.