Talk:Leblanc process

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This article needs more citations. One problem with the Kiefer reference I added, which is certainly helpful, is that it doesn't use any citations itself. So it's difficult to verify the surprising fact that the last Leblanc process plant closed in the 1920s, for example.EAS 11:02, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Interesting article that addresses exactly the point about the slow transition from Leblanc to Solvay: Howells, John: "The Response of Old Technology Incumbents to Technological Competition - Does the Sailing Ship Effect Exist?," Journal of Management Studies, No 7, vol 39, pp 887-906, 2002. It also provides a reference that apparently agrees with the Kiefer assertion about the 1920s closing.EAS 11:45, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

A slightly later Howells reference (on Google Books in bleeding chunks) [1] has a reference to Leblanc soda ash ceasing towards the end of WW1. Conversely, this [2] has a photo caption saying Allhussens' at Gateshead were the last Leblanc producers and stopped production in 1926.
Likewise, what do we have as a reliable source on which Losh(es) were involved in the early alkali works on the Tyne, and when it was built? I have seen dates as early as 1795 quoted (but it is clear that the Loshes tried other processes for alkali production before and in parallel with the Leblanc process) and biographical details for John Losh which say he died in 1814Rjccumbria (talk) 20:47, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
A good book on this topic is Fred Aftalion's A History of the International Chemical Industry, which I used to expand the article a bit. Aftalion gives a date of the first UK Leblanc plant as 1816, not 1807 as the article said before (uncited), so I altered that. It seems odd to us today that the Solvay process didn't take hold sooner, but Aftalion makes it clear that ammonia was not a cheap commodity as it is today. The production of chlorine from the HCl helped the process struggle on a bit longer, but the Haber process and the chloralkali process together sounded the death knell. On page 107, Aftalion states that by 1915 British Leblanc soda production had dwindled to a mere 50,000 tons, that seems to be consistent with the last plant closing in 1920. Walkerma 02:28, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
I have added a reference to the ICI official history or rather pre-history, since it's the volume on the precursors of ICI. One of those was the United Alkali Company - a clubbing together of all the main British Leblanc producers to compete with (in reality to come to an understanding with) Brunner Mond. The historian's interest is clearly with Brunner Mond (and post-merger ICI don’t seem to have been too interested in preserving UAC history) , but the facts seem to be that even up to WW1 (almost 20 years after chloralkali came onto the scene) the UAC was producing more chlorine products (by LP) than the electrolysers; however they weren't making any money from it (or from anything else), and the British Leblanc industry was dying on its feet. The war may have temporarily increased demand for chlorine, but it also led to a massive expansion of electrolytic chlorine production which wasn't going to go away post-war. The survival of the Leblanc industry until well into WW1 is well attested, and its final collapse near or soon after the end of WW1 looks highly likely. (The Haber process is probably guiltless; it only started up in the UK post-WW1 and well before then Leblanc soda ash had proved totally uncompetitive with Solvay soda ash made using non-synthetic ammonia (of which there were ample supplies from gasworks & coke-ovens))
The 1922 edition of Mellor’s ‘Inorganic and Theoretical Chemistry’ talks of the Leblanc process as still going on (but that may of course just be textbook lag; a lot of the detail of the process looks to come from a 1911 source), and notes that it wouldn’t be except for the chlorine products and the sulphur recovery.
This link ( [3] to part of the holdings of ‘Catalyst’ - a ‘museum of the' (Mersey basin) 'chemical industry’ based in the old Gossage factory in Widnes) would suggest to me that there could be some difficulty in establishing a firm time of death for Leblanc soda ash.
For example, over the river at Weston [ where ICI Rocksavage was later] there was a large plant operating the Leblanc process from the 1840's onwards,; the plant continued to produce sulphuric acid, saltcake, and hydrochloric acid ‘until at least 1926’ [the last works manager, interviewed by ICI in 1952, said it closed in 1931]. Weston was a major site at a major centre of the UK chemical industry, and yet within 20-25 years of its closure there were differing accounts of when it closed. Takeover of a firm or closure of a site is fairly unambiguous and might be expected to be detectable from the records; but if you are only making soda ash to use up saltcake you simply might not know you’ve processed your last batch of blackash until some time afterwards. Rjccumbria (talk) 20:47, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
  1. ^ Howells, John; 'The Management of Innovation and Technology: The Shaping of Technology and Institutions of the Market Economy', SAGE, 2005, ISBN 076197024X
  2. ^ Russell, Colin Archibald ; 'Chemistry, society and environment: a new history of the British chemical industry', Royal Society of Chemistry (Great Britain), 2000,ISBN 0854045996
  3. ^

Potassium Carbonate usage[edit]

I have modified my text in view of the fact that my information was admittedly a bit thin. My 1945 Brittanica says that "most commercial K2CO3" was made by Leblanc process, but the article can't be dated. A 1964 textbook (Morris & Cooper Intermediate In organic Chemistry, Cassell & Co) says "K2CO3 is manufactured by 1) LP, 2) electrolytic methods". Again, one can't be sure whether the process was in fact out of use by 1964. 1970s textbooks (shows my age) don't mention LP. None of this is worth citing. I put in the original edit because the article seems to ignore the fact that LP was (and is? BaS, etc) used for products other than Na2CO3. Citation is not required in the case of "common knowledge". I guess most of the rest of the article comes into this category. I will re-expand it if I stumble across better info. . . .LinguisticDemographer 11:47, 6 March 2007 (UTC)


The article states there is a "strong case for arguing that Leblanc process waste is the most endangered habitat in the UK, since only four sites have survived the new millennium".What are these 4 sites? Do they include the huge site at Flint (which is not protected as local nature reserve)? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:11, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Leblanc process/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Last edited at 18:43, 22 June 2007 (UTC). Substituted at 21:46, 29 April 2016 (UTC)