Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/220

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chiefly in separating the tar by distillation into naphtha, creosote, oils, and pitch. A few distillers, however, made small quantities of benzene, which had been first shown—by Mansfield, in 1849—to exist in coal-tar naphtha mixed with toluene, cumene, etc. The discovery, in 1856, of the mauve or aniline purple gave a great impetus to the coal tar trade, inasmuch as it necessitated the separation of large quantities of benzene, or a mixture of benzene and toluene, from the naphtha. The trade was further increased by the discovery of the magenta or rosaniline dye, which required the same products for its preparation. In the mean time, carbolic acid was gradually introduced into commerce, chiefly as a disinfectant, but also for the production of coloring matter.

The next most important development arose from the discovery by Graebe and Liebermann that alizarine, the coloring principle of the madder-root, was allied to anthracene, a hydrocarbon existing in coal tar. The production of this coloring-matter from anthracene followed, and is now one of the most important operations connected with tar distilling. The success of the alizarine made in this manner has been so great that it has almost entirely superseded the use of madder, which is now cultivated to only a comparatively small extent. The most important coloring-matters recently introduced are the azo-scarlets. They have called into use the coal-tar hydrocarbons, xylene and cumene. Naphthalene is also used in their preparation. These splendid dyes have replaced cochineal in many of its applications, and have thus seriously interfered with its use. The discovery of artificial indigo by Professor Baeyer is of great interest. For the preparation of this coloring-matter toluene is required. At present artificial indigo does not compete seriously with the natural product; but, should it eventually be prepared in quantity from toluene, a further stimulus will be given to the coal-tar trade.

The color industry utilizes even now practically all the benzene, a large proportion of the solvent naphtha, all the anthracene, and a portion of the naphthaline resulting from the distillation of coal-tar; and the value of the coloring-matter thus produced is estimated by Mr. Perkin at £3,350,000.

The demand for ammonia may be taken as unlimited, on account of its high agricultural value as a manure; and, considering the failing supply of guano and the growing necessity for stimulating the fertility of our soil, an increased production of ammonia may be regarded as a matter of national importance, for the supply of which we have to look almost exclusively to our gas-works. The present production of 1,000,000 tons of liquor yields 95,000 tons of sulphate of ammonia, which, taken at £20 10s. a ton, represents an annual value of £1,947,000.

The total annual value of the gas-works by-products may be estimated as follows: