Water gas

Water gas

Water gas is a synthesis gas, containing carbon monoxide and hydrogen. It is a useful product but requires careful handling because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. The gas is made by passing steam over red-hot coke:

:C + H2O → CO + H2

The reaction is endothermic so the coke must be continually re-heated to keep the reaction going. This was usually done by alternating the steam stream with an air stream.


Water gas had been made in England since 1828 by blowing steam through red-hot coke, this water gas was carburized by petrol according to a process invented by Thomson and Hind (Singer 119). Charles Singer also states in his "A History of Technology" that, in the United States, natural gases where often used for carburizing (Singer 119).


Water gas had a lower calorific value than coal gas so the calorific value was often boosted by passing the gas through a heated retort into which oil was sprayed. The resulting mixed gas was called carburetted water gas.

Semi-water gas is a mixture of water gas and producer gas made by passing a mixture of air and steam through heated coke. The heat generated when producer gas is formed keeps the temperature of the coke high enough to allow water gas to be formed.

Pure hydrogen can be obtained from water gas by using the Water gas shift reaction.


* Mellor, J.W., "Intermediate Inorganic Chemistry", Longmans, Green and Co., 1941, pp 210-211
* Adlam, G.H.J. and Price, L.S., "A Higher School Certificate Inorganic Chemistry", John Murray, 1944, page 309
* Singer, Charles Joseph; Raper, Richard. A history of technology : edited by Charles Singer ... [et al.] . Clarendon Press, 1954-1978. History e-book project.. ACLS Humanities E-book. Vol 5. "The use of mineral oil" p. 119

ee also

*Town gas
*Wood gas
*Thaddeus S. C. Lowe
*Mond gas

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Water gas — Wa ter gas (Chem.) See under {Gas}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • water gas — water gas, adj. a toxic gaseous mixture consisting chiefly of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, prepared from steam and incandescent coke: used as an illuminant, fuel, and in organic synthesis. Also called blue gas. [1850 55] * * * …   Universalium

  • water gas — n. a fuel gas that is a poisonous mixture of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen, made by forcing steam over incandescent coke or coal …   English World dictionary

  • water gas — vandens dujos statusas T sritis chemija apibrėžtis CO ir H₂ mišinys, gaunamas leidžiant vandens garus pro įkaitintas anglis. atitikmenys: angl. blue gas; water gas rus. водяной газ …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • water gas — /ˈwɔtə gæs/ (say wawtuh gas) noun a poisonous gas used for lighting, etc., made by passing steam over incandescent coal or other carbon fuel, and consisting of a mixture of various gases, chiefly carbon monoxide and hydrogen …   Australian-English dictionary

  • water gas — n. colorless toxic gas that burns with an extremely hot somewhat blue flame and which is composed of a hydrogen and carbon monoxide mixture that has small quantities of other gases …   English contemporary dictionary

  • water gas — noun a fuel gas consisting mainly of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, made by passing steam over incandescent coke …   English new terms dictionary

  • water gas — wa′ter gas n. chem. a toxic mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen used as an illuminant and fuel and in organic synthesis • Etymology: 1850–55 …   From formal English to slang

  • water gas — See wet gas …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • water gas — noun a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide with small amounts of other gases; made by blowing steam over hot coke or coal • Hypernyms: ↑fuel, ↑gas …   Useful english dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”