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An experiment is now m progress m the go-ahead little borough of Gore itt the success of which every business man and every ratepayer m every town m New Zealand has a distinct interest, for if success be assured, as there seems good reason to hope that it will, the cost of illuminating our streets and dwellings will be reduced enormously. In All well-regulated towns oil has long ago given place as an iliuminant to coal-gas, destined m its turn, no doubt, to be superseded by electricity, though the adoption of this latest and most method of lighting will certainly* not become general until the cost of producing the necessary power has bsen greatly reduced. The towns lighted by electricity are the exception and not the rule, and for many years to come m all probability the smaller centres of population will have to depend for artificial illumination upon gas of some sort. We say of some sort because it does not by any means follow that coal gas is necessarily the best and cheapest obtainable. 35very *yrp m chemistry knows that water is composed of two gases, hydrogen and oxygen, the first inflammable, and the second an adjunct to combustion, but to produce an illuminating gas the addition of carbon to the hydrogen is necessary. Watergas, that is to say gas produced from [ water, has therefore always been an evident possibility, nay, during recent years it has been extensively manufactured under various patents,- and turned to useful account m many directions. But hitherto it has been more or less a failure as an iliuminant, while the process of manufacture has been also moi'e or less complicated. But all difficulties, it is said, have been overcome m Gore, where it is claimed that under a local patent they are now able to produce gas of high illuminating power at a cost which is a mere bagatelle as compared with that of coal gas. The inventor (who by-the-bye has an inventor's name, for he is a namesake of the inventor of the steam engine), a Mr Watt, has been for some two years experimenting m this direction, and has devised a retort or vessel m which water and fat ate subjected to one simple process with the result of converting the carbon and hydrogen which they contain into carbufetted hydrogen gas which gives a brilliant light and it is claimed can be produced, for large quantities, at something like Is Gd per 1000 ft. We understand that Mr Watt, having demonstrated practically the value of his invention, sold the patent to Mr Valentine, who has entered into a contract to light the borough of Gore for a period of years; the rate paid per 1000 ft being 7s 6d. One day last week the borough lamps were lit for the first time with .the new. iliuminant <which it would seem gave!:eVery satistion. Should no hitch afterwards occur Gore will have shown the way to other Boroughs to effect a very considerable saving m their annual exenditure, while private consumers will also see before them the pleasant prospect of the reduction of their gas bills by at least one-half. In Ashburton, for example, the charge for coalgas is 15s per thousand, and if watergas can be had for half or perhaps a quarter the money, it Avill mean a considerable difference to the outgoings of business establishments. All the fittings now used for the coal-gas will suit for the water-gas, and the only alterations necessary are the substitution at the gasworks of the new form of retort. We learn also that the new gas is equally available for gas engines and for cooking purposes —indeed for all the purposes to which coal gas is applied. We, therefore^ heartily hope that Mr Watt's invention will stand the test of the more extensive trial to which it is now being put, and should it do so, as it is confidently believed it will, the problem of using water-gas for illuminatr ing purposes will have been finally solved to the advantage of the world at large and to the well-deserved advantage of the patentee.

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Bibliographic details

A CHEAP ILLUMINANT., Ashburton Guardian, Volume X, Issue 2557, 30 October 1890

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A CHEAP ILLUMINANT. Ashburton Guardian, Volume X, Issue 2557, 30 October 1890