W.E. Kuentzel demonstrating use of an apparatus for the removal of carbon monoxide from water gas by means of preferential combustion at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory located in Washington, D.C. The term "water gas" commonly refers to the mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen and was popularly used in industrial reactions to manufacture ammonia, hydrocarbons, methanol, and hydrogen in the early 20th century.
The Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory (F.N.R.L.) was established at American University in 1919 under the directorship of Arthur B. Lamb. Initially part of the War Department, the F.N.R.L. was the successor to several wartime initiatives to develop a secure domestic supply of nitrate compounds necessary for the manufacture of explosives during World War I. With a staff of about 110 individuals, including 35 to 50 chemists, the F.N.R.L. focused on the manufacture, production, and development of products of atmospheric nitrogen, including munitions and fertilizers.
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“Removal of Carbon Monoxide from Water Gas,” April 1926. Travis P. Hignett Collection of Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory Photographs, Box 1. Science History Institute. Philadelphia. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/fx719m51x.
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