Chemical and Analytical Aspects of the Early Alkali and Bleaching Industries in Britain
thesisposted on 22.04.2013, 10:03 by Frederick Granville Page
Chemical analysis is a continuous thread in the history of chemistry. This thesis, which concentrates on the period from the mid-eighteenth century until the time of the Alkali Acts of the 1860s, assesses the role of chemical analysis in terms of developing methodology, its adoption during what has become known as the industrial revolution, and especially its contextual setting within the early alkali and bleaching industries. The thesis traces the development of volumetric analysis from its early beginnings to the time when standard solutions became the accepted means of measuring an unknown component in the process of titrimetry. The research has focused on a range of industrial entrepreneurs (Lewis, Watt, Macintosh, Crum, Keir, Clark, Ure and Griffin) who pursued economic rewards by the application of chemical knowledge, and shows how their intuitive and innovative practical efforts created the means by which their chemically based processes could be controlled and nurtured by analytical means. Simple though some of these methods now seem, nevertheless they satisfied the technical and commercial needs of the period. One standard test, using indigo blue, has been shown to have developed into a routine method that allowed the growing demand for textiles to be met. The thesis concludes that industrial chemists and chemical consultants were successful in their analytical methods without depending upon a knowledge of atomic weights or chemical equations. The exploitation of simple measurements, and the quantitative relationships between reactants and the products of reactions, provided information and a set of technical resources sufficiently useful for the control and management of raw materials, purchasing, and quality control of saleable products.