Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

Origin of the cooker

In 1689, Papin suggested that a force pump or bellows could maintain the pressure and fresh air inside a diving bell.

The pressure cooker is an integral part of the modern kitchen globally, and has revolutionised the cooking process. Its inception, however, goes to the invention of a ‘steam digester’, the brainchild of French physicist Denis Papin. Papin was born on August 22, 1647, in Chitenay, France, and went on to study at the University of Angers, graduating with a medical degree in 1669. In 1673, Papin worked with Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens and German polymath Gottfried Leibniz in Paris, and became interested in using vacuum to generate motive power.

Papin assisted Huygens with his air-pump experiments and visited London in 1675 to work with English physicist Robert Boyle. In 1679, Papin invented his steam digester, an enclosed vessel with a tightly fitting lid that arrests the steam until a high pressure is generated, raising the boiling point of the water within, considerably. A safety valve that he himself invented, prevented explosions. Observing that the enclosed steam in the digester tended to raise the lid, Papin conceived the use of steam to drive a piston in a cylinder, the basic design for early steam engines and pressure cookers.

In 1689, Papin suggested that a force pump or bellows could maintain the pressure and fresh air inside a diving bell. In 1705, Leibniz sent Papin a sketch of the first practical steam engine, built by English engineer Thomas Savery. The sketch stimulated Papin to experiment with further work in the realm of steam technology, culminating in his ‘Ars Nova ad Aquam Ignis Adminiculo Efficacissime Elevandam’ (The New Art of Pumping Water by Using Steam - 1707). In 1709, Papin introduced a man-powered paddle-wheel boat that successfully demonstrated the practicality of using the paddle wheel instead of oars on steam-driven ships. Papin died on August 26, 1713, in London.

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