water gas

water gas, colorless poisonous gas that burns with an intensely hot, bluish (nearly colorless) flame. The gas is a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen with very small amounts of other gases, e.g., carbon dioxide, and is almost entirely combustible as a result. Water gas is so named because of the use of water (steam) in its preparation. This process involves treating white-hot hard coal or coke with a blast of steam carbon monoxide and hydrogen are formed. The gas is manufactured in vast quantities for commercial use. It is of much importance in the preparation of hydrogen and as a fuel in the making of steel and in other industrial processes, e.g., the Fischer-Tropsch process .

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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