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Distillation of Coal Gas, 18th Century

Distillation of Coal Gas, 18th Century

C030/4165

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39.3 MB (4.5 MB compressed)

4200 x 3272 pixels

35.6 x 27.7 cm ⏐ 14.0 x 10.9 in (300dpi)

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SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Coal gas was introduced to Great Britain as an illuminating gas by William Murdoch (August 21,1754 - November 15, 1839) a Scottish engineer and inventor who worked for Boulton and Watt at their Soho Foundry steam engine works. In the early 1790s, while overseeing the use of steam engines in tin mining, Murdoch began experimenting with various types of gas, finally settling on coal gas as the most effective. He created a process wherein the coal was gasified by heating the coal in enclosed ovens with an oxygen-poor atmosphere. The fuel gases generated were mixtures of many chemical substances, including hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide and ethylene, and could be burnt for heating and lighting purposes. In 1798, he used gas to light the main building of the Soho Foundry and in 1802 lit the outside in a public display of gas lighting. He died in 1839 at the age of 85. His reputation as an inventor has been obscured by the reputations of Boulton and.

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