1857 Philadelphia: what are these structures?

Feralimal

Active member
Messages
108
Reactions
210
They look like gas holders to me.

These used to be working until even recently in the UK. The holder rises as it is filled with gas (apparently), and then drops as the gas is used up. The whole thing riding and falling is about keeping the gas pressure regular.

Some are very pretty actually and are even listed monuments, eg:
Gasholder Park - the new park at King's Cross

Not to say that these don't raise questions for me anyway. Eg these are old structures, 100 years or so. Once the gas ran out, how did they fill it back up? They brought the gas from where? How did they even collect the gas in the first place? Actually, how do w collect gas now?

This article from the bbc about their decommissioning, says we have been using them for 200 years.
Will the UK's gas holders be missed?

Hmmm....
 
Last edited:
OP
KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

Negotiator
Messages
4,790
Reactions
19,608
Thank you.
They brought the gas from where?
All from here.
  • William Murdoch joined Boulton and Watt, at the Soho manufactory in Birmingham in 1777, and in 1792 he built a retort to heat coal to produce gas that illuminated his home and office in Redruth. The system, however, lacked a storage method.
  • The system, however, lacked a storage method. James Watt Junior adapted a Lavoisier gazomètre for this purpose. A gasometer was incorporated into the first small gasworks built for the Soho manufactory in 1798.
  • William Murdoch and his pupil Samuel Clegg installed retorts in individual factories and work places. The earliest example was in 1805, at Lee and Phillips, Salford Twist Mill, where eight gas holders were installed.
  • A gas holder provided storage for the purified, metered gas. It acted as a buffer, removing the need for continuous gas production.
  • Safety concerns expressed by the Royal Society limited the size of gas holders to 6,000 cubic feet (170 m3) and saw them being enclosed in gasometer houses. This concern proved unfounded, and any small leak from an enclosed gas holder created a potentially explosive buildup of air and gas within the building, a far greater danger, and the practice discontinued. In the United States, however, where the gas needed to be protected from extreme weather, gasometer houses continued to be built and were architecturally decorative.
  • By the 1850s, every small to medium-sized town and city had a gas plant to provide for street lighting. Private customers could also have piped lines to their houses. By this era, gas lighting became accepted.
  • The telescopic gas holder was first invented as early as 1824. The cup and dip (grip) seal was patented by Hutchinson in 1833, and the first working example was built in Leeds. The benefits of the greatly increased storage the holders provided for local gas works were quickly appreciated, and gas holders were built all around the country in great numbers from the middle of the century.
 

Feralimal

Active member
Messages
108
Reactions
210
By the 1850s, every small to medium-sized town and city had a gas plant to provide for street lighting. Private customers could also have piped lines to their houses. By this era, gas lighting became accepted.
I know this is somewhat at a tangent to the original point about the structures, but all this pressurised gas piping raises more questions.

Piped water is leaky - perhaps as much as 20% is lost:
Water companies losing vast amounts through leakage, as drought fears rise

I've certainly seen flooded roads on account of water leaks. A serious amount of water can be seen! Perhaps we can presume that gas pipes are just as leaky. Perhaps even more gas is leaked, as water is easy to notice, whereas gas is not.

Why aren't there issues with gas leaks though? And why aren't there gas explosions all the time? You'd think there would be, when dealing with such a combustible yet imperceptible material...
Post automatically merged:

Coal gasification - the process of creating gas from coal is also intriguing to me. I hadn't realised that this was a way to get energy - to create gas by heating coal. Sounds potentially environmentally friendly too!
 
Last edited:
Top