John Mayow Discoverd Combustion Accelerator Factor

John Mayow – discoverer of combustion accelerator factor

Category : Personalities
Published by : Data Research Analyst, Worldofchemicals.com

Biography & contributions

John Mayow was a chemist, physician, and physiologist born on May 24, 1640 – died on October 1679. Mayow contributed his work towards pneumatic chemistry.

His areas of studies include

  • Problems of atmospheric composition
  • Combustion
  • Respiration

Mayow described the muscular actions around the chest cavity. He discovered the important constituents of combustion process i.e., spiritus igneo-aereus or nitro-aereus (potassium nitrate). Mayow was given the explanation for anatomical description of the mechanism of respiration.

Mayow’s first experiment involved placing a candle in an inverted jar and placing the jar in a tub of water. The purpose of the water was to seal the vessel. To equalize the initial air pressure on both sides of the jar, Mayow used a straw, but quickly withdrew the straw once the pressures were equalized. As the candle burned, the water in the jar was drawn slightly upward until the candle was extinguished (because it had consumed the oxygen, not because the water had extinguished it).

Mayow correctly explained that the air inside the jar had lost some of its “elasticity” and was no longer able to supply a force to the water equal to the atmospheric pressure. He suggested that this occurred because the air had been “deprived of nitro aerial and elastic particles” by the burning of the flame “so that the air there is not able as before to resist the pressure of the atmosphere”.

Mayow was an incredibly scrupulous experimentalist. He was among the first to emphasize the importance of precise quantification in chemical experiments. He recognized the connection between respiration and combustion in a deeper sense than Boyle or Hooke. Mayow performed experiments with calcination, as well. Calcination is an old term for the oxidation of metals (M + O2 -> MO2). Rust is considered a calx of iron.

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