A history of the international chemical industry - download pdf or read online
By Fred Aftalion
Goals to supply a world point of view on chemistry, integrating the tale of chemical technological know-how with that of the chemical undefined, and emphasizing vital advancements of the 20 th century.
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Extra resources for A history of the international chemical industry
C. The early alchemists included a certain mystical and allegorical quality in this concept. Some of their works were translated into Arabic and were later discovered by Renaissance scholars. For over a thousand years, two main trends characterized alchemy. On the one hand, there was a philosophical pursuit of the transmutation of metals, of the philosopher's stone, and of the elixir of life. This pursuit was shrouded in esoteric terms associated with secret rituals. On the other hand, practical operations were being carried out with constantly improving instruments.
1The process was still empirical. It was not understood at the time that, by producing oxides of nitrogen, saltpeter was playing a purely catalytic role in sulfur oxidation. Page 11 The Demand for Alkalis The second half of the eighteenth century saw an ever-growing demand for alkalis for glassmaking and soapmaking, for dyes for textiles, and for bleach for raw cloth. Demand was particularly strong in France, which already had a firmly established glassmaking industry. Indeed, in France as early as 1665 Colbert had granted a twenty-year license to Manufactures des Glaces et Miroirs in an effort to get around Venice's near monopoly.
Sulfuric acid was used in the preparation of dyes and for the purification of gold and silver. Niter, the potassium salt of nitric acid, was vital in the production of gunpowder, which was invented in China during the ninth century but took three centuries to reach Europe. The composition of gunpowder, a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate, varied very little over time. A very pure quality of sulfur could be obtained in Sicily. Charcoal, which had been used for thousands of years as fuel, was readily available.