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Carbide lampDemonstration experiment: Instruction and video
. Bergamot Publishing.ISBN26.
. Westernlore Publications.ISBN43.
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In cave surveys, carbide lamps are favoured for the lead or point surveyor, who must identify suitable points in the cave to designate as survey stations. The sooty carbide flame may be used to mark cave walls with a station label. Especially favoured for this purpose are all-brass lamps or lamps made with noferromagneticmetals, as these lamps do not deflect the needles of amagnetic compass, which is typically read while brightly illuminated from above using the cavers lamp.
Freeman, Horace (1919).Manufacture of Cyanamide.
The acetylene producing reaction isexothermic, which means that the lamps reactor vessel will become quite warm to the touch; this can be used to warm the hands. The heat from the flame can also be used to warm the body by allowing the exhaust gases to flow under a shirt or poncho pulled out from the body, a technique discovered almost immediately by cold miners, and nicknamed by cavers the Palmer furnace.
Journal of the American Chemical Society
A mining or caving lamp has calcium carbide placed in a lower chamber, the generator. The upper reservoir is then filled with water. A threaded valve or other mechanism is used to control the rate at which the water is allowed to drip into the chamber containing the calcium carbide. By controlling the rate of water flow, the production of acetylene gas is controlled. This, in turn, controls the flow rate of the gas and the size of the flame at the burner, and thus the amount of light it produces.
When all of the carbide in a lamp has been reacted, the carbide chamber contains a wet paste of slaked lime (calcium hydroxide). This is emptied into a waste bag and the chamber can be refilled.
Early models of theFord Model Tautomobile used carbide lamps asheadlamps. Acetylene lamps were also used on riverboats for night navigation. TheNational Museum of Australiahas a lamp made in about 1910 that was used on boardPSEnterprise, apaddle steamerwhich has been restored to working order and also in the museums collection.
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In 1892,Thomas Willsondiscovered an economically efficient process for creating calcium carbide in anelectric arc furnacefrom a mixture of lime and coke. The arc furnace provides the high temperature required to drive the reaction.Manufacture of calcium carbide was an important part of the industrial revolution in chemistry, and was made possible in the US as a result of massive amounts of inexpensive hydroelectric power produced atNiagara Fallsbefore the turn of the twentieth century.In 1895, Willson sold his patent toUnion Carbide. Domestic lighting with acetylene gas was introduced circa 1894 and bicycle lamps from 1896. In France,Gustave Trouv, a Parisian electrical engineer, also made domestic acetylene lamps andgasometers.
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Matthews, C. E. (1996). An illuminating reaction. The Science Teacher, 63(5), 30.
Small carbide lamps called carbide candles or smokers are used for blackening rifle sights to reduce glare. They are used because of the sooty flame produced by acetylene.
Fifty-First Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1932, Department of Mines and Minerals. Journal Printing Co.: Springfield, ILL., 1933
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Headlamps (Lamps worn affixed to the head)
Earlycavingenthusiasts, not yet having the advantage of light-weight electrical illumination, introduced the carbide lamp to their hobby.While increasingly replaced by more modern choices, a substantial percentage of cavers still use this method.
The Carbide CaverA website on the history, restoration, and use of carbide lamps for caving.
Carbide lamps, oracetylene gas lamps, are simple lamps that produce and burnacetylene(C2H2) which is created by the reaction ofcalcium carbide(CaC2) withwater.
Acetylene gas lamps were used to illuminate buildings, aslighthousebeacons, and as headlights on motor-cars and bicycles. Portable acetylene gas lamps, worn on the hat or carried by hand, were widely used in mining in the early twentieth century. They are still employed bycavers, hunters, andcataphiles.
Handbook of Inorganic Chemical Compounds
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Paddle Steamer Enterprise, National Museum of Australia
After carbide lamps were implicated in an Illinois coal-seam methane gas explosion that killed 54 miners, the1932 Moweaqua Coal Mine disaster,carbide lamps were less used in United States coal mines. They continued to be used in the coal pits of other countries, notablyRussiaand theUkraine.
The first carbide mining lamp developed in the United States waspatentedinNew Yorkon August 28, 1900 by Frederick Baldwin.Another early lamp design is shown in apatentfromDuluth, Minnesotaon October 21, 1902.In the early 1900s,Gustaf Dalninvented theDaln light. This combined two of Dalns previous inventions: the substrateAgamassanand theSun valve. Inventions and improvements to carbide lamps continued for decades. On March 10, 1925 Andrew Prader of Spokane, Washington was granted a United States Patent, number 1,528,848 for certain new and useful improvements for Acetylene Lamps.
Carbide lighting was used in rural and urban areas of the United States which were not served byelectrification. Its use began shortly after 1900 and continued past 1950.Calcium carbidepellets were placed in a container outside the home, with water piped to the container and allowed to drip on the pellets releasing acetylene. This gas was piped tolighting fixturesinside the house, where it was burned, creating a very bright flame. Carbide lighting was inexpensive but was prone togas leaksand explosions.
A Users Guide to Carbide Cap Lamps.Has many good pictures & videos.
They are also used fornight hunting.
Articles needing additional references from July 2015
This type of lamp generally has a reflector behind the flame to help project the light forward. An acetylene gas powered lamp produces a bright, broad light. Many cavers prefer this type of unfocused light as it improves peripheral vision in the complete dark. The reaction of carbide with water is exothermic and produces a fair amount of heat independent of the flame. In cold caves, carbide lamp users can use this heat to help stave off hypothermia.
Caving equipment and culture(fromTe Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand)
In the birth of thecinema of Iquitos, a carbide lamp was used as light support toprojectthe first film in theCasa de Fierro, in 1900.
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Carbide Light: The Last Flame in American Mines
While LED electric lights have mostly replaced carbide lamps, some still prefer the old-school approach of using carbide lamps during recreationalcavingexcursions.
American Miners Carbide Lamps: A Collectors Guide to American Carbide Mine Lighting
Morehead, J. T. and de Chalmot, G. (1896). The Manufacture of Calcium Carbide.
Apart from their use as cave surveying tools, many cavers favour carbide lamps for their durability and quality of illumination. They were once favoured for their relative illumination per mass of fuel compared to battery powered devices, but this advantage was largely negated with the advent of high-intensityLEDillumination.