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1._Introduction___Early_Days_Revised_S08

1._Introduction___Early_Days_Revised_S08 - 1 Oil on the...

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1 1. Oil on the Brain The Beginning
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2 Major Themes Idea of switch-point, transition from whale oil to petroleum Technological innovation is key Boom phenomenon – role of profits Backside is a bust Pennsylvania, 1860-1890, the dominant oil producing region in the world
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3 The Impetus: Demand for Light Productivity gains from light Many different fuels Animal grease Vegetable fat Camphene Town gas Whale oil Whale oil was the highest quality
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4 Depletion of Whales Whale population had been exhausted in the Atlantic Whalers had to continue to travel exceedingly far distances into the Pacific Prices climbed to $2.50 per gallon ($25 / gallon in today’s dollars) Entrepreneurs had an incentive to find a substitute
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5 Backstop Technology: Kerosene Dr. Abraham Gesner Developed a process for extracting an oil from asphalt & refining it into a high quality illuminating oil He named this oil: Kerosene Keros and elaion: Greek for wax and oil, then changed elaion to ene to make it sound familiar to camphene By 1859: About 34 companies in the U.S. were producing $5 million a year worth of kerosene from coal & other sources Eastern Europe was also beginning to produce crude, from which kerosene was obtained; during 1859 about 36,000 barrels had been produced
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6 The Rise of Kerosene The spread of kerosene in the 1850’s faced two significant barriers: No substantial source of supply No cheap lamp well-suited to burning kerosene available Both of these factors were overcome by: Import of the Vienna lamp by a New York salesman The visions of George Bissell
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7 George Bissell The driving force behind the creation of the modern oil industry as we now know it. He knew that oil was flammable and conceived that it could be used as a high quality illuminant.
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