Pattinson, Hugh Lee

SUBJECT AREA: Metallurgy
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b. 25 December 1796 Alston, Cumberland, England
d. 11 November 1858 Scot's House, Gateshead, England
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English inventor of a silver-extraction process.
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Born into a Quaker family, he was educated at private schools; his studies included electricity and chemistry, with a bias towards metallurgy. Around 1821 Pattinson became Clerk and Assistant to Anthony Clapham, a soap-boiler of Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1825 he secured appointment as Assay Master to the lords of the manor of Alston. There he was able to pursue the subject of special interest to him, and in January 1829 he devised a method of separating silver from lead ore; however, he was prevented from developing it because of a lack of funds.
Two years later he was appointed Manager of Wentworth Beaumont's lead-works. There he was able to continue his researches, which culminated in the patent of 1833 enshrining the invention by which he is best known: a new process for extracting silver from lead by skimming crystals of pure lead with a perforated ladle from the surface of the molten silver-bearing lead, contained in a succession of cast-iron pots. The molten metal was stirred as it cooled until one pot provided a metal containing 300 oz. of silver to the ton (8,370 g to the tonne). Until that time, it was unprofitable to extract silver from lead ores containing less than 8 oz. per ton (223 g per tonne), but the Pattinson process reduced that to 2–3 oz. (56–84 g per tonne), and it therefore won wide acceptance. Pattinson resigned his post and went into partnership to establish a chemical works near Gateshead. He was able to devise two further processes of importance, one an improved method of obtaining white lead and the other a new process for manufacturing magnesia alba, or basic carbonate of magnesium. Both processes were patented in 1841.
Pattinson retired in 1858 and devoted himself to the study of astronomy, aided by a 7½ in. (19 cm) equatorial telescope that he had erected at his home at Scot's House.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Vice-President, British Association Chemical Section 1838. Fellow of the Geological Society, Royal Astronomical Society and Royal Society 1852.
Bibliography
Pattinson wrote eight scientific papers, mainly on mining, listed in Royal Society Catalogue of Scientific Papers, most of which appeared in the Philosophical
Magazine.
Further Reading
J.Percy, Metallurgy (volume on lead): 121–44 (fully describes Pattinson's desilvering process).
Lonsdale, 1873, Worthies of Cumberland, pp. 273–320 (contains details of his life). T.K.Derry and T.I.Williams, 1960, A Short History ofTechnology, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
LRD

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

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  • Pattinson's process — Pat tin*son s proc ess (Metal.) A process of desilverizing argentiferous lead by repeated meltings and skimmings, which concentrate the silver in the molten bath, the final skimmings being nearly pure lad. The processwas invented in 1833 by Hugh… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pattinson process — ˈpatənsən noun Usage: usually capitalized 1st P Etymology: after Hugh Lee Pattinson died 1858 English metallurgist : a process for desilverizing and purifying lead …   Useful english dictionary

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