The Pyreolophore engine

The Pyréolophore was the world’s first internal combustion engine. It was invented in the early nineteenth century in Chalon-sur-Saône, France, by the Niépce brothers: Nicéphore (who went on to invent photography) and Claude.

In 1807 the brothers ran a prototype internal combustion engine. On 20 July 1807, Napoleon Bonaparte granted a patent after the engine had successfully powered a boat upstream on the river Saône.

The Pyréolophore ran on what were believed to be “controlled dust explosions” of various experimental fuels, although technically they were deflagrations (rapid burns). The fuels included mixtures of Lycopodium powder (the spores of lycopodium, or clubmoss), finely crushed coal dust, and resin.