The invention of the lead chamber process.

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The lead chamber process is a method of producing sulphuric acid in a series of large, boxlike chambers of lead sheets.


The English industrialist John Roebuck invented the lead chamber process in 1746 because he wanted to create a cheaper way of producing sulphuric acid as it was mainly produced in glass jars (which were expensive) during his time. Here[1] is the process he used:

  • He built a boxlike chamber from riveted sheets of lead as it was the only inexpensive metal known at that time that did not react with sulphuric acid.
  • He then mixed sulpur with small amount of potassium nitrate on a ladle, ignited it, and placed it on a tray in the lead chamber.
  • Water was poured onto the floor of the chamber to absorb the gases released by the reaction in order to form some sulphuric acid.
  • He then mixed the same substances and ignited them again several times to form more concentrated acid.
  • The liquid extracted from the chamber in the end contained 35-45% sulphuric acid.

Here is a portrait[2] of John Roebuck:

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