The Pyréolophore was an early internal combustion engine and the first made to power a boat. It was invented in the early 19th century in Chalon-sur-Saône, France, by the Niépce brothers: Nicéphore (who went on to invent photography) and Claude.
At first, the Niépce brothers used as an explosive a powder made with the spores of a plant: the Lycopodium (broad moss), then they used coal mixed with resin. So they invented the first internal combustion engine, which they named Pyreolophore (pyr=fire, eolo=wind and phore=I carry or I produce).
The Pyréolophore operated as a series of discrete burns at a frequency of about 12 per minute to power a boat. Power was delivered in pulses, each pulse forcing water from the engine's tail pipe set under the boat and pointing toward its stern. The boat was pushed forward at each pulse by the reactive force of the ejected mass of water.
A Pyréolophore engine consists of two principal interconnected chambers: a firelighting chamber and a combustion chamber. There is also a bellows for injecting air, a fuel dispenser, an ignition device, and a submerged exhaust pipe. There is a means of storing energy at each explosion in order to work the mechanism as it prepares itself for the next cycle.
To prove the utility of the Pyréolophore to the patent commission, the brothers installed it on a boat, which it powered upstream on the river Saône. the Commissioners concluded that "the machine proposed under the name Pyreolophore by Mm. Niépce is ingenious, that it may become very interesting by its physical and economical results, and deserves the approbation of the Commission." They obtained a patent for a ten-year duration. This patent was signed by the Emperor Napoléon and was dated July 20th, 1807.
Nicéphore and Claude kept improving the Pyreolophore. On 24th December 1807, they informed Lazare Carnot that they had obtained a highly flammable powder by mixing one part of resin with nine parts of coal. Ten years later, the brothers were the first in the world to make an engine work with a fuel injection system.
According to Wikipedia & photo-museum.org