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Thursday, 13 March 2014

Contemporary Review of Accum's Description of the Process

Description of  the Process of manufacturing Coal ‘Gas for the Lighting of Streets; Houses, and public Buildings; with Elevations, Sections and Plans of the most improved Sorts .Apparatus now employed at the Gas-Works in London, and the provincial Towns of Great Britain; accompanied with comparative Estimates exhibiting the most oeconomceal Mode of procuring this Species of Light. With seven Plates. By Fredrick ACCUM, Operative Chemist, Lecturer on Practical Chemistry, etc. pp. 3:30.  

IT will be remembered that when the art 'of 'lighting by gas was yet in its infancy, Mr. Accum published a Treatise, containing a description of the various processes of the art as far as then understood and practised in the metropolis. Such was the general avidity for information on' the subject, that in the course of a few years four large 'impressions of the work were disposed of, and it was successively transferred into the French, German and Italian languages. Since Mr. Accum wrote that Treatise, however, the art of manufacturing and applying coal gas has undergone many material improvements, all combining to bring it to a degree 'of simplicity, precision, and economy, far surpassing everything which the original mode of practice exhibited. Mr. A., sensible of this, felt, as he informs us, that he should 'have been guilty of an injustice to the constant demand which still exists for his former Treatise" had he not made it his -duty to suit it to the changes -which have taken place; and in execution 'of this design, he has now presented the' public with what is in fact quite a new work, superseding altogether the former publication, but -superseding it; we must readily allow, from circumstances of necessity, and with an undoubted view to the public good. The object which Mr. Accum seems already to have pursued in the present work has been to make it a compendium of all the 'best information which the practice of the art down to the present moment has been able to afford; and We must do him the justice to state it as our opinion that he has fulfilled his object with equal amplitude and exactness. It includes not only the result -of his own experience in this department, which appears to have been extensive, but a great number of valuable data with which ·he has been favoured by other gentlemen practically versant in the 'art; 'and we are well satisfied the ingenious author will not -be disappointed in the hope he expresses of its proving a work of-truly practical utility.

The following are the contents of the work:

Part I. General nature and advantages of the art of procuring light by means of carburetted hydrogen or coal-gas.-

II. Outline of the new art of pro- curing light by means of coal-gas, and theory of the production of gas-lights.-

III. Classification of pit-coal and maximum quantity of gas obtainable from different kinds of coal.-

IV. Form and dimensions of the retorts originally employed for manufacturing coal-gas; application of heat; the plan originally adopted; report on a course of operations made with sets of 66, of; 30, of 116, and of 64 retorts worked on the flue plan; oven plan lately 'adopted; description of the retort oven.-

V. and VI. Account of experiments pursued on a large scale in order to ascertain the most profitable mode of employing the retorts; differences of. opinion which have existed among practical men with respect to the degree of temperature fittest to be applied, and the number of hours at a time during which the retorts may most advantageously be kept in action, with the particular results which the 'experiments instituted into these points have afforded; and various other data calculated to enable the reader to adopt that mode of operation which under every circumstance of locality will be found most advantageous.-

VII. Detailed description of the horizontal rotary retorts} the application of which has led to a more oeconomical, expeditious, and easy method of manufacturing coal-gas than heretofore practised; advantages which those applying them.-

VIII. Purification of coal-gas; comparison between the apparatus for this purpose as originally constructed, .and the improved machinery lately adopted; test apparatus for  certifying the purity of coal-gas and the proper manner of working the lime-machine; best method of preparing the quick-lime. –

IX. Account of the various improved gas-holders which have been invented and are now in  action; gas-holder with governor or  regulating gauge; revolving gas-holder; collapsing gas-holder;  reciprocating safety-valve, &c.

X.: Description of the gas-meter an entirely new machine lately adopted at the Birmingham Chester and other gas-works, which measures and registers the  quantity of gas manufactured in any given time from any given ;quantity of coal, or consumed during any period by any number · of burners or lamps; great services of this machine both to the : manufacturer and consumer of gas; to the manufacturer, by · serving as a complete check on his workmen as to the quantity  of work that ought to be performed,-and to the consumer, as an · exact measure of the quantity of gas he receives and ought to   pay for .-

XI. Governor or gauge for regulating the pressure of the gas before it enters into the main, directions to workmen for fixing it; application of this apparatus for regulating the magnitude of the flames of gas-burners and lamps.-

XII. Gas- mains and branch-pipes; rules to be observed for applying and distributing gas-pipes to the greatest advantage.-

XIII. Most efficient mode of introducing gas to the interior of houses; instructions to workmen for adapting the gas-pipes and insuring success at the least cost under every variety of circumstances.-  

XIV. Illuminating power of coal-gas; quantity of gas consumed in a given time by different kinds of gas-burners and lamps; comparative cost of gas, tallow; and oil lights of different intensities; and most improved method for ventilating apartments  lighted by gas.-

XV. Account of the manufacture of gas from coal tar, vegetable tar, and oil.-And,

XVI. Other products obtainable from coal; viz. coal tar, coal oil, pitch, ammoniacal liquor; manufacture of carbonate of ammonia and muriate of ammonia from- the ammoniacal liquor; London price list of the most essential articles in the manufacture and application of coal gas.  The plates, seven in number, are very elegantly coloured, and present sections, plans and elevations of all the most improved sorts of apparatus now employed at the Gas-works in London and the principal provincial towns in Great Britain.   

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