Illustration of Roots blower

1860 Roots blower

The book of science

Tom Sharp

Philander Roots, Francis Marion Roots mechanics Illustration of Roots blower

Roots blower

The Roots brothers, Philander and Francis, promoted the Roots blower as an air pump for blast furnaces. Instead of a fan, the Roots blower uses intermeshed lobed gears that turn in opposite directions to move air around the crankcase. Gottlieb Daimler incorporated a Roots blower in an engine in 1900, leading to its widespread use in engines as a supercharger.

Legend of origin

Philander Roots designed the Roots blower as an impeller to exploit water power for their mill on Whitewater Canal in Connersville, Indiana. However, since he made the lobed impellers of wood, they warped in the water and jammed the motor. Investigating the device out of water, they discovered that when one brother rotated the shaft, the device forcefully blew off the other’s hat.


Huffers in hot rods compress air to burn fuel more efficiently, burning more fuel, exciting hot-rodders with their burn, burning hot.

A catalog should be written on accidental discoveries in science, which would include the discoveries of vulcanized rubber, radioactivity, penicillin, Teflon, the microwave oven, Velcro, and CorningWare. But the catalog introduction should emphasize that we know of these accidents only because they occurred in the context of trained people and work environments that were able to take advantage of them.

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