Deacon, Henry

Deacon, Henry
b. 30 July 1822 London, England
d. 23 July 1876 Widnes, Cheshire, England
English industrial chemist.
Deacon was apprenticed at the age of 14 to the London engineering firm of Galloway \& Sons. Faraday was a friend of the family and gave Deacon tuition, allowing him to use the laboratories at the Royal Institution. When the firm failed in 1839, Deacon transferred his indentures to Nasmyth \& Gaskell on the Bridgewater Canal at Patricroft. Nasmyth was then beginning work on his steam hammer and it is said that Deacon made the first model of it, for patent purposes. Around 1848, Deacon joined Pilkington's, the glassmakers at St Helens, where he learned the alkali industry, which was then growing up in that district on account of the close proximity of the necessary raw materials, coal, lime and salt. Wishing to start out on his own, he worked as Manager at the chemical works of a John Hutchinson. This was followed by a partnership with William Pilkington, a former employer, who was later replaced by Holbrook Gaskell, another former employer. Deacon's main activity was the manufacture of soda by the Leblanc process. He sought improvement by substituting the ammonia-soda process, but this failed and did not succeed until it was perfected by Solvay. Deacon did, however, with his Chief Chemist F.Hurter, introduce improvements in the Leblanc process during the period 1866–70. Hydrochloric acid, which had previously been a waste product and a nuisance, was oxidized catalytically to chlorine; this could be converted with lime to bleaching powder, which was in heavy demand by the textile industry. The process was patented in 1870.
Further Reading
D.W.F.Hardie, 1950, A History of the Chemical Industry in Widnes, London. J.Fenwick Allen, 1907, Some Founders of the Chemical Industry, London.

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

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