This chance discovery produced a series of products, from improved lighting in remote locations to the synthesis of a host of organic substances.“Discovery of the Commercial Processes for Making Calcium Carbide and Acetylene” commemorative booklet produced by the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program of the American Chemical Society in 1998 (PDF).
Hundreds of thousands of people are investing pensions without legal protection against their own incapacity, and exposing loved ones to a costly ordeal to take control of their funds.Four out of five retirees who have put their pensions in income drawdown schemes, which require ongoing management of investments, don't have this failsafe in place, according to new research by financial giant Zurich.When burned with oxygen, it gave a flame that was 1000° C hotter than any other, leading to the development of commercial oxyacetylene welding and cutting.Most importantly, acetylene later became the starting material in the synthesis of hundreds of aliphatic organic chemicals used worldwide, particularly solvents, plastics, and synthetic rubber.Dedicated May 2, 1998, at Spray Cotton Mills in Eden, North Carolina, USA, and October 15, 1999, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Commemorative Booklet (PDF) In his search for a more economical way to make aluminum, Canadian inventor Thomas Leopold Willson accidentally discovered the first commercially viable process for making calcium carbide, which is used for production of acetylene gas, at a location in North Carolina.
At age 22, he moved to the United States where he held various jobs in the mechanical and electrical trades before settling in Brooklyn, New York, in 1887.
His work over the next three years resulted in six patents, which secured for him the rights in the United States for use of the electric-arc furnace in ore smelting. In December 1890, the Willson Aluminum Company was formed to exploit Willson's patents.
After making small quantities of chloroform and aldehydes, he filed for a patent in February 1894 to cover the use of acetylene in the manufacture of "hydrocarbon products." By borrowing more money, Morehead was able, in August 1894, to complete at Spray the first commercial calcium carbide plant.
Its 8-foot high, double-sided furnace was capable of continuous operation.
The stock market crash in May 1893 and the ensuing depression bankrupted the company, leaving Morehead virtually penniless.