François Isaac de Rivaz
François Isaac de Rivaz (Paris, December 19, 1752 – Sion, July 30,
1828) was an inventor and a politician. He invented a hydrogen-powered
internal combustion engine with electric ignition and described it in
a French patent published in 1807. In 1808 he fitted it into a
primitive working vehicle – "the world's first internal combustion
2 Internal combustion engine
3 Alternative claims for internal combustion engines
4 See also
6 External links
Isaac was born in
Paris to a family from Valais. In 1763 the family
Savoy (Kingdom of Sardinia). The last two
boys, Anne Joseph and Isaac, came to settle in St. Gingolph in Valais.
It is not known at which schools he studied, but he became fluent in
Latin plus mastering mathematics and geometry, whilst continuing his
study of mechanics throughout his life. He qualified as both a
surveyor and notary and worked for the state of Valais.
Isaac had many interests plus an intuitive and extremely curious mind
which was driven by the demon of discovery. His experimental work was
overflowing. He experimented with steam-powered vehicles in the late
18th century. He also studied the ignition of combustible gases.
Internal combustion engine
Main article: de Rivaz engine
After retirement from the Army, living in Switzerland, he invented a
primitive internal combustion engine which he constructed in 1807.
It was powered by a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen manually ignited by
electric spark, but the engine neither involved the in-cylinder
compression, the crank, nor the connecting rod. A year later, Isaac
built an early automobile for his new engine to power. His
engine was never commercially successful.[clarification needed]
Alternative claims for internal combustion engines
Coincidentally, in 1807
Nicéphore Niépce installed his 'moss,
coal-dust and resin'-fueled
Pyréolophore internal combustion engine
in a boat and powered up the river
Saone in France to be granted a
patent by the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The discrete, virtually
simultaneous, implementations of these two designs of internal
combustion in different modes of transport means that the de Rivaz
engine can be correctly described as "the worlds first use of an
internal combustion engine in an auto-mobile (in 1808)", whilst the
Pyréolophore (in 1807) was the world's first use of an internal
combustion engine in a ship".
Although de Rivaz's early work is credited as the first use of the
internal combustion engine in an automobile, the further development
and mass production of the invention never truly began until the late
In 1824, the French physicist Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot
scientifically established the thermodynamic theory of idealized heat
engines. This highlighted the shortcoming of these
pioneering designs, whereby they needed a compression mechanism to
increase the difference between the upper and lower working
temperatures and potentially unlock sufficient power and efficiency.
Gasoline was not used for internal combustion engines until 1870 when
carburetors were invented to convert non-combustible liquid fuels into
a combustible gaseous mixture form.
De Rivaz engine
Timeline of transportation technology
Timeline of hydrogen technologies
History of the internal combustion engine
^ a b c d Eckermann, Erik (2001). World History of the Automobile.
Warrendale, PA: Society of Automotive Engineers.
^ a b c Michelet, Henri (1965). L'inventeur Isaac de Rivaz: 1752 -
1828. Editions Saint-Augustin. Retrieved 2011-05-28. In French
^ About.com: Inventors: The History of the
Automobile - The Internal
Combustion Engine and Early Gas-Powered Cars
^ US 7137366 Page 10: : In the early nineteenth century,
Francois Isaac de Rivaz of Switzerland invented a hydrogen-powered
internal combustion engine.
1807 Francois Isaac de Rivaz - internal combustion engine