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long attracted the attention of those persons most concerned in the naval history of the country. o had my inquiries directed to this important object by the Commissioners of the Navy Board, and a Committee of the Royal Society having been appointed to consider of it, I entered into an experimental investigation of the causes of the action of sea water upon copper. In pursuing this investigation, I have ascertained many facts which I think not unworthy of the notice, of the Royal Society, as they promise to illustrate some obscure parts of electro-chemical science; and likewise seem to offer important practical applications. (2.) It has been generally supposed that sea water had little or no action on . copper, and that the rapid decay of copper on certain ships was owing to its impurity. On trying, however, the action of sea water upon two specimens of copper sent by John Vivian, Esq. to Mr Faraday for analysis, I found the specimen which appeared absolutely pure, was acted upon even more rapidly than the specimen which contained alloy; and on pursuing the inquiry with specimens of various kinds of copper which had been collected by the Navy Board, and sent to the Royal Society, and some of which had been considered as remarkable for their durability, and others for their rapid decay, I found that they offered very inconsiderable differences only in their action upon sea water; and, consequently, that the changes they had undergone must have depended upon other causes than the absolute quality of the metal. (3.) To enable persons to understand fully the train of these researches, it will be necessary for me to describe the nature of the chemical changes taking glace in the constituents of sea water by the agency of copper. When a piece of polished copper is suffered to remain in sea water, the first effects observed are, a yellow tarnish upon the copper, and a cloudiness in the water, which takes place in two or three hours: the hue of the cloudiness is at first white; it gradually becomes green. In less than a da a bluish green precipitate appears in the bottom of the vessel, which constantly accumulates, at the same time that the surface of the copper corrodes, appearing red in the water, and §Tass-green where it is in contact with air. Gradually carbonate of soda forms upon the grass-green matter; and these changes continue till the water becomes much less saline. The green precipitate, when examined by the action of solution of ammonia and other tests, appears principally to con: sist of an insoluble compound of copper, (which may be considered as a hydrated submuriate.) and hydrate of magnesia. According to the views which I developed fourteen years ago, of the nature of the compounds of chlorine, and which are now generally adopted, it is evident that soda and magnesia cannot appear in sea water by the action of a metal, unless in consequence of an absorption or transfer of oxygen. It was therefore necessary for these changes, either that water should be decomposed, or oxygen absorbed from the atmosphere. I found that no hydrogen was disengaged, and consequently no water decomposed: necessarily, the oxygen of the air must have been the agent concerned, which was made evident by many experiments. Copper in sea water deprived of air by boiling or exhaustion, and exposed in an exhausted receiver or an atmosphere of hydrogen gas, underwent no change; and an absorption in atmospherical air was shown when copper and sea water were exposed to its agency in close vessels. (4.) In the Bakerian Lecture for 1806, I have advanced the hypothesis, that chemical and electrical changes may be identical, or dependent upon the same property of matter: And I have farther explained and illustrated this hypothesis in an elementary work on chemistry, published in 1812. Upon this view, which has been adopted by M. Berzelius and some other philosophers, I have shown that chemical attractions may be exalted, modified, or destroyed, by changes in the electrical states of bodies; that substances will only combine when they are in different electrical states; and that, by bringing a o naturally positive, artificially into a negative state, its usual powers of combination are altogether destroyed: and it was by an application of this principle that, in 1807, I separated the bases of the alkalies from the oxygen with which they are combined, and preserved them for examination; and decomposed other bodies formerly supposed to be simple. It was in reasoning upon this general hypothesis likewise that I was led to the discovery which is the subject of this paper. Copper is a metal only weakly positive in the electro-chemical scale; and, according to my ideas, it could only act upon sea water when in a positive state; and consequently, if it could be rendered slightly negative, the corroding action of sea water upon it would be null, and whatever might be the differences of the kinds of copper sheeting and their electrical action upeach other, still every effect of chemical action must be prevented, if the whole surface were rendered negative. But how was this to be effected ? I at first thought of using a voltaic battery; but this could be hardly applicable in practice. I next thought of the contact of zinc, tin, or iron : but I was for some time prevented from trying this, by the recollection that the copper in the voltaic battery, as well as the zinc, is dissolved by the action of diluted nitric acid; and by the fear thattoo large a mass of oxidable metal would be required to produce decisive results. After reflecting, however, for some time on the slow and weak action of sea water on copper, and the small difference which must exist between their electrical powers; and knowing that a very feeble chemical action would be destroyed by a very feeble electrical force, I resolved to try some experiments on the subject: I began with an extreme case. I rendered sea water slightly acidulous by sulphuric acid, and plunged into it a polished piece of copper, to which a piece of tin was soldered equal to about # of the surface of the copper. Examined after three days, the copper remained perfectly clean, while the tin
was rapidly corroded: no blueness appeared in this liquor; though, in a comparative experiment, when copper alone and the same fluid mixture was used, there was a considerable | corrosion of the copper, and a distinct blue tint in the liquid. | If 'o part of the surface of tin prevented the action of
sea water rendered slightly acidulous by sulphuric acid, I had
tom of the vessel in which the experiment was made. The
ty of copper in a ship, as an infinitely extended conductor, | endeavoured to ascertain whether this circumstance would influence the results; by placing two very fine copper wires, one undefended, the other defended by a particle of zinc, in a very large vessel of sea water, which water might be considered to bear the same relation to so minute a portion of metal as the sea to the metallic sheeting of a ship. The result of this experiment was the same as that of all the others; the defended copper underwent no change; the undefended tarnished, and deposited a green powder. Small pieces of zinc were soldered to different parts of a a large plate of copper, and the whole plunged in sea water ; it was found that the copper was preserved in the same manner as if a single piece had been used. A small piece of zinc was fastened to the top of a plate of polished copper, and a piece of iron of a much larger size was soldered to the bottom, and the combination placed in sea water. Not only was the copper preserved on both sides in the same manner as in the other experiments, but even the iron; and after a fortnight, both the polish of copper and the iron remained unimpaired. (1) I am continuing these researches, and I shall communicate such of them as are connected with new facts, to the Royal Society. The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, with their usual zeal for promoting the interests of the Navy by the ap plication of science, have given me permission to ascertain the practical value of these results by experiments upon ships of war; and there seems every reason to expect (unless cauits should interfere of which our present knowledge gives no indications) that small quantities of zinc, or which is much cheaper, of malleable or cast iron, placed in contact with the o sheeting of ships, which is all in electrical connexion, will entirely prevent its corrosion. And as negative elecsity cannot be supposed favourable to animal or vegetable He; and as it occasions the deposition of magnesia, a sub*nce exceedingly noxious to land vegetables, upon the copfor surface; and as it must assist in preserving its polish, there is consideraqle ground for hoping that the same appli*tion will keep the bottoms of ships clean, a circumstance of got importance both in trade and naval war. t will be unnecessary for me to dwell upon the economital results of this discovery, should it be successful in actual Police, or to point out its uses in this great maritime and *mmercial country.