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This programme consists predominantly of film shot in 1973 of the chemical plant in Seaton Carew which made sulphuric acid by the lead chamber process. This is the process upon which much of Britai...n's industrial greatness depended in the 19th century, and Seaton Carew was the only remaining site in this country producing acid by this method. Since the filming in 1973, the plant has been demolished, and this film is a unique historical record of this fascinating industrial process.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: AST281, Science and the rise of technology since 1800
Item code: AST281; 03
First transmission date: 21-03-1973
Published: 1973
Rights Statement: Rights owned or controlled by The Open University
Restrictions on use: This material can be used in accordance with The Open University conditions of use. A link to the conditions can be found at the bottom of all OUDA web pages.
Duration: 00:24:23
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Producer: David Jackson
Contributors: Fred Bryan; Leslie Eyre; George Gilchrist; Colin Russell
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Gay Lussac Tower; Glover Tower; Lead chamber plants; Leather Chemical Company; Seaton Carew; Sulphuric acid; Zinc manufacturing plant
Footage description: Colin Russell describes the importance of sulphuric acid to the technology and industry of the 19th century. Colin Russell briefly describes the principal features of the lead chamber plant, (leather's Chemical Company Ltd, Seaton. Carew), the reactions of sulphuric acid, and the 18th century method of distillation. Print of 18th century laboratory. Colin Russell describes the invention of a new method of manufacture. An animated drawing featuring the ingredients expressed in chemical terms aids the explanation. Lemery's experiment of heating sulphur and saltpetre over water in a bell jar is recreated. Portrait of Joshua Ward. Colin Russell describes the first applications of sulphuric acid. A captioned table quoting dates is shown. Shots of copper smelting work, clothes bleaching, both from 18th century prints; also manufacture of chlorine bleach. Colin Russell goes on to describe 19th century uses of sulphuric acid. He then embarks on a description of the problems of lead vessel construction using autogenous welding. Shots of oxy-acetylene blow torch, and of a print of the 19th century plumber's machine, the hydrogen "blow pipe. latter is explained. Shots of lead chambers at Seaton Carew. Colin Russell describes their construction and the problems which are encountered in the building of large lead constructions. Shots inside the chamber. Shots of roof of lead chamber. Leslie Eyre explains the problems that make the roof of the chamber particularly vulnerable. At the beginning of the sequence Colin Russell describes the development of the continuous process system. Colin Russell describes the third problem associated with sulphuric acid manufacture, the supply of raw materials. Photograph of Seaton Carew works when a zinc manufacturing plant was also present on the site Seaton Carew's raw materials are described by Colin Russell and supply discussed with George Gilchrist. Shots of Seaton Carew site and rubbish tips. Shots of furnaces, dust separation and furnace emptying. Aerial view of Seaton Carew. Colin Russell describes the separation of nitrogen dioxide from the effluent gases. Shots of Widnes 100 years ago, showing extreme air pollution by untreated plant exhausts. A Gay Lussac tower is recreated in laboratory, Colin Russell describes. Portrait of John Glover whose successful experiments in the regeneration of the oxides of nitrogen from the purified plant exhausts are described by Colin Russell. Shots of diagram of Glover Tower and of the Glover Tower at Seaton Carew; Fred Bryan describes how the tower is packed. Colin Russell takes stock of the progress made, and discusses the remaining problem, that of purity. The Contact Process is also discussed by Colin Russell with George Gilchrist. Shots of contact plant.
Master spool number: 6HT/70896
Production number: 00525_3030
Videofinder number: 3363
Available to public: no