Coffey, Aeneas

SUBJECT AREA: Chemical technology
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b. 1779/80 England
d. 26 November 1852 Bromley, England
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English inventor of the Coffey still for fractional distillation.
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As Surveyor and Inspector General of Excise in Ireland, Coffey was responsible for the suppression of the illicit distilling of alcohol. In 1818 he published a pamphlet refuting charges of oppression and brutality brought against him by Irish revenue officers. He seems to have hunted with the hounds, for as a distiller himself in Dublin, he patented in 1831 the improved form of still that bears his name. The still was quickly adopted by the whisky industry as it accomplished in a single operation what had previously required several stages using the old pot stills. It is still used in the making of potable spirits, and consists of two adjacent columns, an analyser and a rectifier. Steam is passed through the liquor in the analyser, which removes the volatile fraction, and is then fractionally condensed in the rectifier column; almost pure alcohol could be produced by this means.
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Further Reading
E.J.Rothery, 1968, Annals of Science 24:53.
LRD

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

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