[1], Davis was also instrumental in the formation of the Society of Chemical Industry (1881), which he had wanted to name the Society of Chemical Engineering, and was its first Secretary. Moreover, he was generous in providing real-life examples of the practices and problems of the chemical plant. Its purpose was to limit the pollution caused by the nascent chemicals industry, chiefly the Leblanc soda works – the invention of another chemical engineer who changed the world, Nicholas Leblanc (see tce 838, April 2011). Alkali inspectors were appointed by the Crown to enforce the Alkali Act of 1864, arguably the first piece of environmental legislation in the UK. The aim of all chemical procedures should be the utilisation of everything and the avoidance of waste. His assertion that there was a real and urgent need for people properly educated in both engineering and chemistry was rooted in many years of experience working in the chemicals industry, particularly the experience he gained as a plant inspector. In 1872 he was engaged as manager at the Lichfield Chemical Company in Staffordshire. Second, [that the plant is designed] to need a minimum of repairs and, when repairs have to be executed, [this can be done] quickly, easily and, if possible, without disturbing the regular cycle of operations.”. Davis studied at the Slough Mechanics Institute while working at the local gas works, and then spent a year studying at the Royal School of Mines in London (now part of Imperial College, London) before leaving to work in the chemical industry around Manchester, which at the time was the main centre of the chemical industry in the UK. His works included what was at the time the tallest chimney in the UK, with a height of more than 200 feet (61 m). This stood him in good stead when, ten years later, he was offered the position of alkali inspector. Indeed, at the SCI’s first general meeting there were only 15 chemical engineers among the society’s 297 members. [1], He died in West Dulwich, on 20 April 1907. Crop Science OIT Chemical Operator Rotating Shift, © 2020 Institution of Chemical Engineers, www.icheme.org/resources/journal_archive.aspx. What made Davis’ Manchester lectures so special, Lewis said, was that he taught fundamental scientific principles and general engineering application, and not the specific industries that might use them. It is often cheaper to prevent waste than to attempt to utilise a waste product. He also worked as an inspector for the Alkali Act of 1863, a very early piece of environmental legislation that required soda manufacturers to reduce the amount of gaseous hydrochloric acid released to the atmosphere from their factories. In it, he defines the attributes and functions of the chemical engineer and makes a compelling case for why chemical engineering should be considered a stand-alone discipline, separate from applied chemistry, chemical technology or the person who at the time most commonly filled the role we’d now reserve for the chemical engineer, the ‘mechanical engineer with a little knowledge of chemistry’. To curb this, the Alkali Act stipulated that plants should condense at least 95% of ‘muriatic acid’ (the historic term for hydrochloric acid); the inspectors’ role was to ensure this happened. He was also interested in microscopy, founding the journal Northern Microscopist in 1881, and publishing a textbook on the subject, Practical Microscopy. Evidently it did in the case of American professors like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s William H. Walker and Warren K. Lewis. Davis stressed that many of the skills, processes and principles used in chemical engineering are common to a broad swath of industrial applications. [1], Davis was born at Eton on 27 July 1850, the eldest son of George Davis, a bookseller. Davis is the author of the seminal A Handbook of Chemical Engineering, published in 1901. Davis returned to more hands-on work, managing the Rockingham Gas works near Barnsley in Yorkshire, and then as a consultant based in Manchester. During his busy consulting career Davis only taught the one lecture series, and so his handbook had to play the role of creating disciples. Davis was also a moving spirit behind the formation of the Society of Chemical Industry (1881), which he had wanted to name the Society of Chemical Engineering. Writing Davis’ biography, Don Freshwater noted: “He argued that all processes could be broken down into a relatively small number of operations which, when studied in the abstract, revealed certain general principles which were applicable to any process. The Handbook was an instant success – so much so that an expanded and updated second edition followed in 1904. There were already industrial chemistry books written for each chemical industry—for example, alkali manufacture, acid production, brewing, and dyeing—and even a few overviews, but Davis was unique in organizing his text by the basic operations common to many industries—transporting solids, liquids, and gases; distillation; crystallization; and evaporation, to name a few—and heavily illustrating these with the plant machinery then available for purchase.

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