Albert, Wilhelm August Julius

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b. 24 January 1787 Hannover, Germany
d. 4 July 1846 Clausthal, Harz, Germany
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German mining official, successful applier of wire cable.
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After studying law at the University of Göttingen, Albert turned to the mining industry and in 1806 started his career in mining administration in the Harz district, where he became Chief Inspector of mines thirty years later. His influence on the organization of the mining industry was considerable and he contributed valuable ideas for the development of mining technology. For example, he initiated experiments with Reichenbach's water-column pump in Harz when it had been working successfully in the transportation of brine in Bavaria, and he encouraged Dörell to work on his miner's elevator.
The increasing depths of shafts in the Harz district brought problems with hoisting as the ropes became too heavy and tended to break. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, iron link chains replaced the hempen ropes which were expensive and wore out too quickly, especially in the wet conditions in the shafts. After he had experimented for six years using counterbalancing iron link chains, which broke too easily, in 1834 he conceived the idea of producing stranded cables from iron wires. Their breaking strength and flexibility depended greatly on the softness of the iron and the way of laying the strands. Albert produced the cable by attaching the wires to strings which he turned evenly; this method became known as "Albert lay". He was not the first to conceive the idea of metal cables: there exists evidence for such cables as far back as Pompeii; Leonardo da Vinci made sketches of cables made from brass wires; and in 1780 the French engineer Reignier applied iron cables for lightning conductors. The idea also developed in various other mining areas, but Albert cables were the first to gain rapidly direct common usage worldwide.
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Bibliography
1835, "Die Anfertigung von Treibseilen aus geflochtenem Eisendraht", Karstens Archiv 8: 418–28.
Further Reading
K.Karmarsch, "W.A.J.Albert", Allgemeine deutsche Biographie 1:212–3.
W.Bornhardt, 1934, W.A.J.Albert und die Erfindung der Eisendrahtseile, Berlin (a detailed description of his inventions, based on source material).
C.Bartels, 1992, Vom frühneuzeitlichen Montangewerbe zur Bergbauindustrie, Bochum: Deut sches Bergbau-Museum (evaluates his achievements within the framework of technological development in the Harz mining industry).
WK

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

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