Fighting firedamp

With a beautiful, explosive experiment, Ri Demo Technician Andy Marmery demonstrates how Humphry Davy's simple invention saved hundreds of lives from firedamp.

Firedamp is a flammable gas found in coal mines that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of miners, who used open flames to light their way. Humphry Davy, a chemist at the Royal Institution, found a solution to the problem in 1815. He discovered that a flame could not penetrate a wire mesh, meaning that any explosions could be safely contained within a lamp if some metal gauze surrounded the candle.

Andy demonstrates in spectacular fashion exactly how this invention, which in many ways fuelled the industrial revolution, works, and celebrates a beautiful example of applied science in action.

This film is part of the Tales From The Prep Room series. Watch more like this on the Royal Institution YouTube channel.

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