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Fixed Air (Gas Sylvestre). Fixed air had first been synthesised by Joseph Black in 1750-1752 by heating magnesium carbonate He named it so because it was “fixed” (absorbed) by alkalis It was identical to van Helmont’s, Gas Sylvestre, discovered in 1648 We call it carbon dioxide.

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fixed air gas sylvestre
Fixed Air(Gas Sylvestre)
  • Fixed air had first been synthesised by Joseph Black in 1750-1752 by heating magnesium carbonate
  • He named it so because it was “fixed” (absorbed) by alkalis
  • It was identical to van Helmont’s, Gas Sylvestre, discovered in 1648
  • We call it carbon dioxide
fizzy water 1772
Fizzy Water (1772)
  • Priestley realised that the vats in which beer was being made in his local brewery were giving off "fixed air"
  • The air was identical to that given off in his laboratory when “common air” was spoiled by having candles burnt in it
  • He found that it would dissolve to give an "exceedingly pleasant sparkling water".
dephlogisticated air 1774
Dephlogisticated Air: 1774
  • By heating red oxide of mercury (and red lead) Priestley produced isolated, “dephlogisticated air”
  • It supported breathing in mice about….”five or six times as good as common air”
  • It supported burning and was indeed Scheele’s “fire air”
  • Priestley also showed that it was produced by plants such as mint and thereby discovered photosynthesis
  • He visited Antoine Lavoisier in Paris to discuss his findings
burnt out in birmingham
Burnt Out in Birmingham

The Laboratory of “Gunpowder Joe” Priestley was set on fire by rioters in 1791. (Ironically given his scientific interests in combustion!)It happened because of his religious beliefs and sympathies toward revolution. He emigrated to America in 1794.