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The Oesper Collections in the History of Chemistry, Apparatus Museum, University of Cincinnati
Burning Lens with Pneumatic Trough and Bell Jar—Use

This apparatus is similar to that used by Priestley to prepare Mercurius praecipitatus per se or mercuric oxide by heating mercury in a bell jar full of dioxygen gas using a burning glass. The reaction, as represented by the modern equation:

Hg(s) + O2(g) —> HgO(s) + heat

is inherently exothermic, so the burning lens in actually acting as a source of activation energy. Priestley did not provide a period woodcut of his apparatus, and the figure shown here is actually taken from the 1789 edition of Antoine Lavoiser' Traité élémentaire de chimie..

 


 
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