Alexandru Ciurcu was a Romanian inventor and publisher, famous for his invention with Just Buisson of a reaction engine. It used rocket propulsion and was successfully used to power to boat in 1886.The two men envisioned that such motors would later be used for air travel.
After high school, Alexandru Ciurcu studied Law at the University of Vien (1873), but he also continued to study technical sciences. Back in Romania, as a journalist, he attacked the Government, and was forced to flee to Paris, France. There Alexandru Ciurcu met an old friend, Just Buisson, also a journalist with a passion for technical subjects.
Together, they designed and built an engine based on the propulsive force due to the gases produced by combustion in a small chamber. The chamber was smaller than any other gas generator of its time. The engine consisted of a 2 liter volume recipient that had a hole of 3 mm diameter. The burning gases produced an internal pressure of 10-15 atmospheres.
On August 13, 1886, they successfully operated their engine on a boat that sailed for 15 minutes against the flow of river Sena. It was the first boat with an reactive engine.
In December 16, 1886, they built another engine, with a larger boiler in order to develope a higher pressure and increased velocity of exhausted gases. Unfortunately, the engine exploded, killing Just Buisson and a third young man who was steering the boat. Alexandru Ciurcu was put on trial for murder, but found not guilty.
At the request of a Mr. Gaston Tissandier, Ciurcu made other experiments on reactive engine, at the Scoran - Livry military base. This time he was helped by Emil Sarrau and Paul Vieille (white powder inventor). They succesfully mounted the engine on a small rail wagon.