Young, James

SUBJECT AREA: Chemical technology
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b. 13 July 1811 Glasgow, Scotland
d. 13 May 1883 Wemyss Bay, Scotland
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Scottish chemist and pioneer petroleum technologist.
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Young's early education took place in the evenings, after the day's work in his father's joinery. From 1830 he studied chemistry at the evening classes in Glasgow given by the distinguished Scottish chemist Thomas Graham (1805–69) and soon afterwards became Graham's assistant. When Graham moved to University College London in 1837, Young accompanied him.
From 1839 he was employed in the chemical industry, first with James Muspratt at St Helens, Lancashire, and from 1843 with Tennant \& Company in Manchester. In 1848 his attention was drawn to an oil seepage in a mine at Alfreton, Derbyshire, of some 300 gallons per day; he set up his own works there to extract an oil that could be used for lighting and lubrication. When this source of oil was exhausted, three years later, Young moved to Lothian in Scotland. By distillation, he extracted oil from the oil-shale deposits there and thus founded the Scottish oil-shale industry: he obtained a high yield of paraffin oil for lighting and heating, and was a pioneer in the use of chemical methods in extracting and treating oil. In 1866 he disposed of his company for no less than £400,000. Young's other activities included measuring the speed of light by Fizeau's method and giving financial support to the expeditions of David Livingstone, who had been a fellow student in Glasgow.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
FRS 1873.
Further Reading
Obituary, 1884, Journal of the Chemical Society 45:630.
LRD

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

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