Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bunsen's Burner -- September 13, 2011

Doctor Peter Henri Van Der Weyde wrote the series of articles which gave this blog its name. This article, from the 16-June-1860 Scientific American describes a meeting of the Polytechnic Association of the American Institute where Doctor Van Der Weyde performed an early demonstration of the Bunsen burner. Robert Bunsen had published a description of the device in 1857.

The image comes from the first installment of his memoirs, in the February, 1893 issue of Manufacturer and Builder.

Dr. Van Der Weyde exhibited "Bunsen's burner," which is chiefly used by chemists for producing an intense heat. The common Bunsen burner is a gas jet, over which is placed a tube (open at the top), about six inches high and one-half inch in diameter; the tube terminates at the bottom in a foot, through which the gas passes to the inclosed jet. The lower part of the inclosing tube is pierced with three or four holes, about a quarter of an inch in diameter, for the supply of air to the gas. In this burner, the gas burns with a blue flame, giving no more light than alcohol; but if the air-holes be stopped, the light becomes whitish and smoky. When a large volume of heat is desired, two or more of these burners are combined on the same foot. The doctor also exhibited the gas blow-pipe by which the gas is burned from an annular aperture within which is an air jet. If oxygen be used instead of air, the most refractory substances—as platinum, for example—are melted with ease. The Bunsen burner and the gas blow-pipe are now in common use among chemists, and have taken the place of the spirit lamp and mouth blowpipe wherever gas is convenient.

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