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Bathgate Chemical Works

 

These works have lately been erected Boghead, near Bathgate. They belong to Messrs J. Young &Co of Manchester ; but being conducted strictly as a secret work," little known in the district regarding the articles produced at them, and less of the means by which they are produced. Indeed, all that is known on the subject is, that in them there is used large quantities of the Boghead cannel coal, from which it is understood that oil and various other valuable substances are, by some chemical process, extracted. The following extracts from the recent publication by the Commissioners of the Reports the Jurors on the Works of Industry of all Nations, which were shown the late exhibition, will not be uninteresting to our readers, particularly those resident the district, as what is therein stated tends still farther to establish the great commercial value of the Boghead parrot coal for other purposes besides the manufacture of gas, for which it unrivalled and that it may consequently be expected that it will continue, for many years yet to come, to be a source of profit and advantage not only to the district of Bathgate, but to all those more immediately connected with it.

In the reports as to the Stearic Manufactures," exhibited under Class 29, it is stated at page 625 of the publication alluded to—" Paraffin would much too costly to be converted into candles, made from wax, as its preparation entails a considerable loss of material; it is nevertheless desirable that it should be obtained cheaply from some source, as it is better adapted than any other substance for illuminating purposes, from its containing element besides carbon and hydrogen, which are united equal equivalents ; it is, therefore, exactly of the same composition hundred parts of olefiant gas, which gives to the ordinary coal and oil gases their illuminating power. Examples of paraffin candles are exhibited Masse and Tribouillet, in the French section; but far more interesting specimens are sent by James Young, which seem to realise the great problem which the rare sagacity of pointed out so far back ten years ago. ' It would certainly be esteemed one of the greatest discoveries of the age,' says he. 'if any one could succeed condensing coal gas into a white, dry, solid, colourless substance, portable, and capable of being placed upon candlestick, or burned in a lamp.' Now. this very problem Young appears to have accomplished, by distilling coal a comparatively low temperature, whereby he obtains instead of gas —which the product of intense heat —a mixture of liquid and solid substances, —the former capable of being burned in lamps, like sperm oil, of being used for lubricating machinery ; the latter yielding a beautiful mould candle, as solid and white any prepared from paraffin from other sources.

The reporters have not, as yet, been able to obtain a fuller account of the economical bearings Mr Young's process; although, according to a statement furnished to them, 100 parts of cannel coal from Bathgate yielded parts of oil, and 10 parts of paraffin. The reporters, however, confidently hope, that this truly beautiful discovery will not meet with similar difficulties as the plan proposed some years ago for making paraffin candles out of Irish peat. If coal paraffin can actually obtained in sufficient quantity and at moderate cost, may witness another revolution in the process of illumination; and the brilliant discoveries of Chevreul, but lately threatened by the splendour of the electric light, may be eclipsed by the general adoption of solidified coal-gas candles." Besides this very favourable statement the reporters, awarding prize medal to Young for the paraffin and oils exhibited him (and which he extracts from the Boghead gas-coal), state their report, at page 43—" The process adopted by Young is one of great importance, which has only been fully developed since the jury made its awards. By distilling the cannel coal of Boghead, near Bathgate, in Scotland, at the lowest red heat, Young obtains a quantity of oil amounting to about per cent, of the weight of the coal. This oil, after rectifying off a small portion of its more volatile part, is exceedingly well adapted for lubricating machinery. It does not oxidate in air, and is equal to the best sperm oil for the purpose stated, being a rich solution of paraffin more volatile oils. It is difficult to estimate the advantage, in a variety of points of view, of so valuable a discovery." We may add that Mr Young's manufactory is carried on under a patent, dated 17th October, 1850, wherein the mode in which he treats the gas-coal and its products to accomplish the extraction and purification of the oil, paraffin, &c, are very particularly specified.

 

The Falkirk Herald 9th September 1852

 

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