A few days ago I discovered the sponsorship of a very interesting scientific and technological project. This is the campaign to get the money needed to complete the project Ictineu 3 carried out by Ictineu Submarins, consisting of a manned submarine, the ninth of its kind in terms of the depth that can be achieved when diving (1,200 meters), which will be a world revolution because the technologies used (developed entirely in Catalonia, Spain) and which its civilian and scientific use is expected to be very important once built.
The name of the submarine, Ictineu,arises from combining the Greek words ichtus (fish) and naus (boat), is an echo of the past that takes us back in time to year 1859...
On September 23rd of that year was held in the port of Barcelona's the first public dive of the Ictineu I, designed and built by the company founded by the politician and writer who later became engineer Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol (1819-1885).
The Ictineu I was initially conceived to help coral fishermen to develop their work safely and met many of the basic features that will be part of the later models of submersibles, such as the double hull and flotation tanks.
The popular enthusiasm for Ictineo, the economic contributions of Economic Societies of Friends of the Country and governmental committees to study possible support to continue the project did not mean, however, that Isabel II government will end up providing support.
Monturiol didn't ceased pursuing his objectives and managed to raise 300,000 pesetas with a national subscription campaign to establish a company named La Navegación Submarina and built Ictineu II in 1864, an upgraded and larger version that could have industrial and even military applications.
The improved design of the Ictineu incorporated various technical advancements, the most important being the design of an anaerobic engine (in this case a steam engine) which also produced the oxygen needed to allow the crew to breathe underwater and lighten up the ship. No other submarine used anaerobic propulsion until the German Navy experiments in 1940 with the Walter turbines fitted to the experimental V-80 submarine, being years later the Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine, the first to successfully apply the anaerobic propulsion designed by Monturiol.
But the problems did not stop to come and Monturiol and his company ended up bankrupt, Ictineu II being sold as scrap in 1868. Then he dedicate himself to politics and printed press again, he also created several inventions (such as a machine for making cigarettes, the only he patented, in 1866).
Monturiol completely ruined and forgotten, died in 1885 in the town of San Martí de Provençals (now part of Barcelona), leaving behind many writings, the most important being Ensayo sobre el arte de navegar por debajo del agua, published posthumously in 1891 which explains all technical and scientific reasoning that allowed him to design and build Ictineus.
Returning to the present I would like to invite you to participate in the sponsorship of this project because it shows that regardless of the situation we are in, we still can do first-rate science in this country and this deserves our support, either financially or helping publicizing the initiative.
If you want to integrate Ictineus I and II in an adventure of the Steampunk kind I offer you their characteristics as a download for D20 OGL game mechanics (Link to Goggle Docs and Link to 4shared).
If you want to obtain more information about Monturiol and Ictineu submarines besides the links appearing in the article I suggest the following ones:
Ensayo sobre el arte de navegar por debajo del agua, available in the website of Instituto Cervantes, Europeana and Google Books (in Spanish).
The exhibition marking the Monturiol Year (2009-2010) (in Catalan).
Entries in Enciclopèdia Catalana for Monturiol and Ictineu (in Catalan).
Article published in issue 1129 of the Cavall Fort magazine (in Catalan).
Blog El Senyor Narcís, dedicated to the figure and work of Monturiol (in Catalan and Spanish).
Article A steam powered submarine: the Ictíneo, by Low-tech Magazine (in English).
Article Monturiol The Forgotten Submariner, of the magazine Undersea Warfare (in English).
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