William John Macquorn Rankine

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Rankine, William John Macquorn


Born July 5, 1820, in Edinburgh; died Dec. 24, in Glasgow. Scottish engineer and physicist.

After graduating from the University of Edinburgh, Rankine worked on the construction of ports and railroads. In 1855 he became a professor at the University of Glasgow. One of the founders of the science of thermodynamics, he wrote a monograph, which appeared in the 1850’s, dealing with the technical application of the thermodynamic properties of steam. Rankine and R. J. E. Clausius worked out the theoretical cycle of the steam engine. In 1854, Rankine laid the basis for the theory of the regenerative process, which came to be used in engines requiring heated air. Rankine proposed a method for designing steam engines with multiple expansion and for determining the indicated efficiency of engines. A number of Rankine’s works are devoted to the theory of elasticity and waves.


A Manual of the Steam Engine and Other Prime Movers, 15th ed. London, 1902.
A Manual of Civil Engineering, 22nd ed. London, 1904.
Shipbuilding, Theoretical and Practical. London, 1866. (With others.)
A Manual of Machinery and Millwork. London, 1869.
Miscellaneous Scientific Papers. London, 1881.
In Russian translation:
Rukovodstvo dlia inzhenerov-stroitelei. St. Petersburg, 1870.


Radtsig, A. A. Istoriia teplotekhniki. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936.
Rosenberger, F. Istoriiafiziki, part 3, fase. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936. (Translated from German.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Not so for Professor William John Macquorn Rankine, engineer, scientist, educator, communicator, and much more.
William John Macquorn Rankine, born in 1820 in Edinburgh, is best remembered in the engineering field for the Rankine Cycle, a thermodynamic cycle applied as a model for generating power in plants.