The Journal of Physical Chemistry
The selective action of the catalytic agent is shown admirably in the fractional combustion of gases, though the data are by no means so complete as one would like. A very interesting study of the effect of platinum on the fractional combustion of gases was made by Henry1 over ninety years ago; and it is still of fundamental importance. "Several years have elapsed since the President of the Royal Society [Sir Humphry Davy], in the further prosecution of those researches on flame which had
... ame which had already led him to the most important practical results, discovered some new and curious phenomena in the combustion of mixed gases, by means of fine wires of platinum introduced into them at a temperature below ignition. A wire of this sort being heated much below the point of visible redness, and immersed in a mixture of coal gas and oxygen gas in due proportions, immediately became white-hot, and continued to glow until all that was inflammable in the mixture was consumed. The wire, repeatedly taken out of the mixture and suffered t o cool below the point of redness, instantly recovered its temperature on being again plunged into the mixed gases. The same phenomena were produced in mixtures of oxygen with olefiant gas, with carbonic oxide, with cyanogen, and with hydrogen; and in the last case there was an evident production of water. When the wire was very fine, and the gases had been mixed in explosive proportions, the heat of the wire became sufficiently intense to cause them to detonate. In mixtures which were non-explosive from the redundancy of one or other gas, the combination of their bases went on silently, and the same chemical compounds were formed as by their rapid combustion. Phil. Mag., 65, 269 (1825) .