(b. Paris, France, 8 April 1808; d. Paris, 29 September 1884)
Bourdon was the son of a merchant who, expecting him to enter business, sent him to Nuremberg for two years in order to learn German. After his father’s death in 1830, however, Bourdon spent two years in an optician’s shop and, in 1832, set up his own instrument and machine shop. He moved in 1835 to 71 Faubourg du Temple, and continued to work there until 1872, when his sons took over its management. After his retirement, Bourdon continued to perform experiments that interested him. He died from a fall that occurred while he was testing an anemometer he had designed, one that employed a venturi tube.
In 1832 Bourdon made and presented to the Société d’Encouragement pour l’Industrie Nationale a model of a steam engine with glass cylinders; subsequently he built perhaps two hundred small steam engines. His major contributions were in instrumentation, however, and the most important single innovation was his “metallic manometer,” which in his patent of 18 June 1849 was described as a “pressure gauge without mercury.” This gauge is by far the most widely used for indicating pressures in the range of 15 to 100, 000 pounds per square inch. The sensing element, or transducer, of the gauge was and is the Bourdon tube, which is a metal tube with an elliptical cross section. This tube, bent into a C, a helix, or a spiral, or simply twisted about its central axis (all except the spiral were used by Bourdon in 1851), tends to straighten out when pressure is applied to a fluid within it. When one end will indicate variation of pressure. Obituary notices repeat the story that Bourdon was led to the principle of the Bourdon tube by observing the action of a lead cooling coil under internal pressure. Judging from his painstaking attention to detail, this explanation is not unreasonable. Important aspects of the design of Bourdon tubes are still based upon empirical evidence rather than mathematical analysis.
In 1851, as a result of the success of his gauges at the London International Exhibition, Bourdon was awarded the Legion of Honor.
A paper by Bourdon on his most famous instrument is “Description de manométres métalliques sans mercure, pour indiquer la pression de la vapeur dans les chaudiéres,” in Bulletin de la Siciété d’encouragement pour l’industrie nationale, 50 (1851), 197–200.
A definitive review of theoretical treatment (17 references) is Robert W. Bradspies, “Bourdon Tubes,” in Glannini Technical Notes (Jan.-Feb., 1961), pp. 1–10, published by the Giannini controls Corp., Duarte, Calif.
Obituary notices are “Eugéne Bourdon,” in Revue scientifique. 3rd ser., 21 (1884), 542–543; and “Notice sur M. Eugéne Bourdon, par M. Henri Tresca,” in Bulletin de la société d’encouragement pour l’industrie nationale, 83 (1884), 515–519.
Eugene S. Ferguson
"Bourdon, Eugène." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 21, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/bourdon-eugene
"Bourdon, Eugène." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Retrieved November 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/bourdon-eugene
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.