Jean Joseph Etenne Lenoir

By: Carter Self

Early Years

Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir was born on January 12, 1822 in Mussy La-Ville, Belgium. In his childhood Lenoir taught himself how to do chemistry and was very good at it. He became an engineer and saw an opportunity. So he took it and he moved to Paris where he started inventing.

The Lenoir Engine

During this time period (1800s) people started to sail boats or drive carriages with steam powered engines. But these engines were dangerous and could set fire or explode at any time. Lenoir wanted to change that. So he invented the Lenoir engine.The engine was unlike like the steam powered engines because the charges were not compressed before ignition. This meant that traveling with this engine instead of the steam powered would be much safer.
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The Struggles

During his 78 year life, Lenoir had some problems. One being that his engine, although it was safe could only travel as fast, if not slower than a walking man. The top speed was 3 miles per hour. Another problem was that his invention didn't get many sales. Only 500 were ever recorded. And the ones that were sold were mostly used for water pumps and power plants. Since the engine was unsuccessful Lenoir was in poverty. He died poor on August 4th, 1900 in La Varenne-Sainte-Hilaire, France.

His Impact Today

Even though Lenoir died poor, his invention impacted us all. Even though his invention failed it was the building block for Otto Nikolaus' Piston chamber, which is used in jet planes today. He is also inspirational because even though he failed he still tried to try again and kept trying until he died. And because he was so determined to get his invention successful he did not have a wife or kids. To honor him there is a cycle named the Lenoir cycle explaining how an internal combustion chamber works.


Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.

"How Products Are Made." How Products Are Made. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.