The Discovery of Oxygen

For much of the eighteenth century chemists believed that when a substance burned in air a substance called phlogiston was released.  It was thought that a flame eventually went out in a closed container because the air became saturated with phlogiston. In August 1774, Priestley heated a red solid powder (mercury oxide) by using a…

Read More

Automobile Air Bags

Air bags are now widely used in automobiles in North America to protect the occupants in the event of a collision.  It is essential that the bag inflate very quickly: that is, within a few one-hundredths of a second.  Thus, the gas used must be produced by some very rapid reaction.  Moreover, that gas should…

Read More

Blast Furnaces

The Blast Furnace Iron ore, coke, and limestone are added at the top of the furnace, and air is blown in at the bottom.  The oxygen of the air reacts with the hot coke to form carbon monoxide.  This gas passes up the furnace, changing the iron oxide to iron as it moves down.  Liquid…

Read More