Wed Jan 06, 2021 12:09 pm
ISTR reading it came about because crude petroleum would seep out of the ground in parts of Pennsylvania, preventing use of the land for crops. It smelt volatile, so some farmer had the bright idea of burning it to get rid of it. It burnt, but more came, so some entrepreneur had the idea of selling it for lamp oil, as locally cheaper than the then more usual whale oil. But its smoke was dirty, so someone devised away of refining it to make it cleaner. The result, however, was more volatile and led to explosions. Then some mechanical engineer tried controlling the explosion in a strong metal vessel, and found it was possible to create motive power using mechanism similar to that used in coal powered steam engines. This was cleaner, more controllable, requiring smaller pressure vessels than steam, so suggested applications in smaller vehicles than railway locomotives.. so a series of successive leaps of imagination, each arguably small in itself.
Pennsylvania origin is reflected in the name of one of the largest early gasoline companies, Penn Oil
Happy, as ever, to be corrected.
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