Thomas, Sidney Gilchrist

SUBJECT AREA: Metallurgy
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b. 16 April 1850 London, England
d. 1 February 1885 Paris, France
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English inventor of basic steelmaking.
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Thomas was educated at Dulwich College and from the age of 17, for the next twelve years, he made his living as a police-court clerk, although he studied chemistry in his spare time as an evening student at Birkbeck College, London. While there, he heard of the difficulties encountered by the Bessemer steelmaking process, which at that time was limited to using phosphorus-free iron. Any of this element present in the iron was oxidized to phosphoric acid, which would not react with the acidic lining in the converter, with the result that it would remain in the iron and render it too brittle to use. Unfortunately, phosphoric iron ores are more common than those free of this harmful element. Thomas was attracted by the view that a fortune awaited anyone who could solve this problem, and was not discouraged by the failure of several august figures in the industry, including Siemens and Lowthian Bell.
Thomas's knowledge of chemistry taught him that whereas an acidic lining allowed the phosphorus to remain in the iron, a basic lining would react with it to form part of the slag, which could then be tapped off. His experiments to find a suitable material were conducted in difficult conditions, in his spare time with meagre apparatus. Finally he found that a converter lined with dolomite, a form of limestone, would succeed, and he appealed to his cousin Percy Carlyle Gilchrist, Chemist at the Blaenavon Ironworks in Monmouthshire, for help in carrying out pilot-scale trials. In 1879 he gave up his police-court job to devote himself to the work, and in the same year they patented the Thomas- Gilchrist process. The first licence to use it was granted to Bolckow, Vaughan \& Co. of Middlesborough, and there the first steel was made in a basic Bessemer converter on 4 April 1879. The process was rapidly taken up and spread widely in Europe and beyond and was applied to other furnaces. Thomas made a fortune, but his health did not long allow him to enjoy it, for he died at the early age of 34.
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Bibliography
Further Reading
L.G.Thompson, 1940, Sidney Gilchrist Thomas, an Invention and Its Consequences, London: Faber.
T.G.Davies, 1978, Blaenavon and Sidney Gilchrist Thomas, Sheffield: Historical Metallurgy Society.
LRD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Thomas, Sidney Gilchrist — ▪ British metallurgist born April 16, 1850, London, Eng. died Feb. 1, 1885, Paris, Fr.       British metallurgist and inventor who discovered (1875) a method for eliminating phosphorus (a major impurity in some iron ores) in the Bessemer… …   Universalium

  • Thomas, Sidney Gilchrist — ► (1850 85) Técnico británico. Inventó un procedimiento de eliminación del fósforo contenido en el hierro en el convertidor Bessemer …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Sidney Gilchrist Thomas — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Thomas. Sidney Thomas Sidney Gilchrist Thomas (Canonbury à côté de Londres 16 avril 185 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sidney Gilchrist Thomas — Infobox Scientist name = Sidney Gilchrist Thomas box width = image width =150px caption = Sidney Gilchrist Thomas birth date = April 16, 1850 birth place = Canonbury, London death date = February 1, 1885 death place = residence = citizenship =… …   Wikipedia

  • Thomas — Thomas, Albert Thomas, André Antoine Thomas, Ch. L. Ambroise Thomas, Dylan Thomas, Sidney Gilchrist Thomas, Theodore * * * (as used in expressions) Adès, Thomas …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • thomas — (1625 1709) frère du préc.; poète dramatique français; auteur d un Dictionnaire des arts et des sciences (1694) et d un Dictionnaire géographique et historique (1708). Acad. fr. (1685). Thomas (1875 1955) frère du préc., écrivain allemand. Son… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Sidney Thomas — Sidney Gilchrist Thomas (* 16. April 1850 in Canonbury (London); † 1. Februar 1885 in Paris) war ein bedeutender britischer Metallurg. Sidney Thomas erfuhr eine humanistische Ausbildung und wurde zunächst Gerichtsschreiber. In seiner Freizeit… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gilchrist — is a surname of Scottish origin, having originated in Islay. According to several genealogy websites, it literally means servant of Christ. Some variations known to exist are Gillecrist , Gilcreest , Gilcrest , and Gilcress . Gilchrist may refer… …   Wikipedia

  • Gilchrist — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Sommaire 1 Patronyme 1.1 Prénom 1.2 P …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Thomas — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom.  Pour l’article homophone, voir Tomas. Thomas est un nom propre qui peut désigner : Sommaire …   Wikipédia en Français

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