Argand, François-Pierre Amis

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b. 5 July 1750 Geneva, Switzerland
d. October 1803 London, England
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Swiss inventor of the Argand lamp.
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Son of a clockmaker, he studied physics and chemistry under H.-D. de Saussure (1740– 99). In 1775 he moved to Paris, where he taught chemistry and presented a paper on electrical phenomena to the Académie Royale des Sciences. He assisted the Montgolfier brothers in their Paris balloon ascents.
From 1780 Argand spent some time in Montpellier, where he conceived the idea of the lamp that was to make him famous. It was an oil lamp with gravity oil feed, in which the flame was enlarged by burning it in a current of air induced by two concentric iron tubes. It produced ten times the illumination of the simple oil lamp. From the autumn of 1783 to summer 1785, Argand travelled to London and Birmingham to promote the manufacture and sale of his lamp. Upon his return to Paris, he found that his design had been plagiarized; with others, Argand sought to establish his priority, and Paul Abeille published a tract, Déscouverte des lampes à courant d'air et à cylindre (1785). As a result, the Académie granted Argand a licence to manufacture the lamp. However, during the Revolution, Argand's factories were destroyed and his licence annulled. He withdrew to Versoix, near Geneva. In 1793, the English persuaded him to take refuge in England and tried, apparently without success, to obtain recompense for his losses.
Argand is also remembered for his work on distillation and on the water distributor or hydraulic ram, which was conceived with Joseph Montgolfier in 1797 and recognized by the grant of a patent in the same year.
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Further Reading
M.Schroder, 1969, The Armand Burner: Its Origin and Development in France and England, 1781–1800, Odense University Press.
LRD

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

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