Within two years we find that several American inventions and discoveries have been appropriated by our brethren across the A tlantic. Among these is one for the manufacture of gas from wood, stubble, straw, etc., which is supposed to be a cheaper method than the same made from coal, oils, rosin, Ic Although I am willing to award credit to the genius of English inventors, and am ready to praise a Watts and an Arkwright, yet I am unwilling to see my own countrymen robbed of their just merits and inventions. Within the last year or so a patent has been issued by the United States for an improvement in making tar, charcoal, gas, etc., from wood. This invention not only embraces the above enumerated productions, but by an ingenious and simple arrangement, collects all the products ot the wood, such as acetic acid, pyrox-yHc spirits, creosote, etc. The whole thilg appeared in a practical form previous to any claim by the English, and the enterprismg among the oldest residents of Wilmington have new in process of erection an establishment to manufacture wood gas, or pyroligne-ous gas, to illuminate their streets and houses. In this respect North Carolina has been wide awake, and proves hersel! something more than the "Rip Van Winkle of the South." Her unfailing 10rests may yet drive from the market the coal of England for gas, for it may not be known that even in this city English coal lights it up. The pine forests of North Carolina, which have been exhausted of their turpentine, the pine straw all over the grounds, a nd pine saw-dust are the articles which can be made available for lightilg our cities cheaply, and the other articles produced by the destructive distillation of wood, such as charcoal, tar, acids, w ood naphtha, etc., will more than pay all expens e s and bring the i l luminating gas down to a m e re song.-LNa-' tIonal Intelligencer. [The National Intelligencer has certainly been made the subject of a light joke. It has long been known to every chemist that bodies containing carbon and hydrogen possess the constituent elements of gas illumination. The economy of any substance for making gas consists in the amount of carbon and hydrogen in the proper quantities for making good light contained in it according to its bulk and weight. Wood, straw, and stubble, are just about as suitable for makllg gas as cork is for ship building.
This article was originally published with the title "New Discovery" in Scientific American 8, 22, 170 (February 1853)