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History of the gas mantle

The gas mantle was invented by Carl Auer von Welsbach, an Austrian scientist and inventor, in around 1885.  He was a student of Robert Bunsen of Bunsen burner fame.  He patented his invention which he called the “Auerlicht”, a name used today by Indo International for their mantles.  His early versions gave a greenish white light and due to this, were not popular.  However he persevered and with his colleague Dr Haittinger produced a new version that gave a much brighter white light.  This new mantle was formed using a cotton mesh impregnated with 99% thorium dioxide and 1% cerium dioxode.  The first time the mantle was used the cotton burnt away leaving a high melting point metal oxide mesh that glowed brightly.  It was also much longer lasting, overcoming another drawback of the earlier version.  This allowed gas lighting to compete successfully with new electric lighting that was just becoming popular.  Ironically von Welsbach also invented the electric filament light bulb which has largely replaced gas lighting, and the flint that is still used in cigarette lighters today.  He combined his skills as a scientist with the ability to capitalise on his inventions commercially.

To be continued


Further interesting information on the history of gas lighting and other gas powered equipment can be found at the following website:-

William Sugg & Co History


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Last modified: 10/07/08                                                                  Hit Counter