Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Ottawa Carbide Mill

The ruins of the Ottawa Carbide Mill are just a lonely echo of the 19th century when Victoria Island was bustling with industry. The mill is also a monument to the brilliance of a Canadian inventor, Thomas "Carbide" Willson.

In a short lifetime, Willson registered over 60 patents for inventions ranging from arc lights to a revolutionary fertilizer - superphosphate.

In 1892 he discovered how to make acetylene gas from merging of calcium carbide and water. He also found that acetylene, when mixed with oxygen, could power torches strong enough to cut through steel and illuminate buoys that were visible for miles at sea.

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