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History Of Carbon Monoxide

There is a long history of the carbon monoxide compound that dates back nearly eight hundred years. While the compound exists naturally and has likely been present since early in the earth’s formation, it wasn’t until a 14th century Spanish chemist named Arnaldus de Villanova described the gases from burning wood, which we today know as carbon monoxide. Almost three hundred years later, a Belgian chemist, Jan Baptista van Helmont, almost lost his life while inadvertently inhaling a carbon dioxide and monoxide mixture.

By the late 1700’s, a French chemist named Lassone was able to take a coal material and heat up zinc oxide, which emitted a then-unknown gas that made a blue flame in his laboratory – carbon monoxide. It is unclear whether a chemist from England named William Cruikshank clearly identified carbon monoxide first at the turn of the 19th century or another English chemist, Joseph Priestly, did so a few years earlier when he identified both carbon dioxide and monoxide.

Poison value well known

While the early studies of carbon monoxide did indeed indicate that it was a poison to humans in many cases, it wasn’t until the mid-1800’s that French physiologist Claude Bernard specifically studied the deadly characteristics of the gas. For several centuries, many scientists have known of the poisonous nature of carbon monoxide. Tiny doses or naturally occurring amounts of carbon monoxide typically cause vomiting, nausea, an unnatural feeling of exhilaration and other effects. Of course as the amount of carbon monoxide increases, can cause unconsciousness as well as severe intestinal occlusions and eruptions. Ultimately, a high enough level of carbon monoxide can cause death.

the action of carbon monoxide poisoning is a relatively simple process. Oxygen molecules enter the lungs and are carried by red blood cells. the oxygen links up with an iron atom in a molecule called oxyhemoglobin. It is later freed by this molecule to aid other cell functions throughout the body that produce energy. When carbon monoxide enters the body this “transference chain” of oxygen is broken. Carbon monoxide bonds with the hemoglobin as does oxygen but it is much more stable (as carbonmonoxyhemoglobin) and lasts longer than oxygen, thus pushing out oxygen and essentially suffocating cells in the body. Since much less oxygen enters the body, less energy is produced and the body is poisoned.

As a cause of death

Carbon monoxide is so prevalent that, throughout the world, more people die of it than any other type of poison. Since it has no smell and is transparent, it is very hard to detect. Luckily, modern technology has caught up and carbon monoxide detectors are produced in huge volumes for home, office and industrial use. they are installed the same way that smoke detectors are. Some typical sources of carbon monoxide are unventilated charcoal fires, broken gas furnaces or stove connections and, of course, automotive and other combustible engine exhaust. this last example is the most prevalent emission of the gas in the modern world today. Often, in such overpopulated places as Mexico City or New York, car emissions are the most common carbon monoxide source with unusually high levels. those who smoke tobacco also have a direct interaction with carbon monoxide. Nearly ten percent of all of the body’s hemoglobin is locked out by carbon monoxide for those who regularly smoke a pack or more a day of cigarettes.

Since the most common form of carbon monoxide emission is from cars, it is important to note the amount of carbon dioxide/carbon monoxide that emerges and how it happens. Both the temperature and the amount of oxygen in place during the reaction that generates carbon monoxide will determine its amount. Typically, carbon monoxide can form when there is little oxygen and combustion takes place at lower temperatures, so when there is more oxygen present and the temperature is higher, greater amounts are generated.

Ironically, for a number of years following the advent of the Industrial Revolution carbon monoxide was used a fuel for automobiles in parts of the world where gasoline could not be easily found. In these places, charcoal-burning devices were integrated into the combustion engine, so that when coal was burned, a high concentration of carbon monoxide was piped directly to the carburetor to be fired to move engine pistons, etc. the gas has also been used to euthanize animals and humans over the years, but the practice has largely fallen off in recent times. Carbon monoxide has also been used to drive oxygen out of substances to reduce them to their purest form. As an example, if iron oxide is used as a source material, and carbon monoxide is forced to interact with it, pure iron will result from the process.