The proposition to destroy fire damp in mines is not the mere revival of some neglected and almost abandoned scheme, but altogether an innovation. The great object of all inventors in connection with the safety of mines has been to prevent the burning, and, consequently, the explosion of fire damp. From George Stephenson, in the construction of his "Geordy," to the safety lamp of his more brilliant competitor, and continuing through many inventions to the present day, the idea has ever been to prevent the combustion of the fire damp. If practicable, however, it is quite clear that the destruction of the gas would be infinitely better than its avoidance, and would give vast facilities in the working of mines. The new plan is offered by its inventor, a Frenchman, on highly favorable terms. The sum of $5,000 is to be placed in the hands of a notary in Paris, and paid to the inventor for communicating his secret when he has proved the efficacy of his system by working his apparatus in any coal mine that may be named. The apparatus is said to be permanent, and capable of destroying the fire damp as it rises ; and the inventor will, it is said, prove, by working his invention, that the safety lamp is not indispensably necessary in collieries. We shall rejoice to learn that all this is strictly true, as it will go far to prevent one of the most destructive and distressing classes of accidents that occur among us, and that at present seem very imperfectly under the control of science or good management.
This article was originally published with the title "Burning Explosive Gases of Mines" in Scientific American 13, 33, 260 (April 1858)