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A brief history of gas regulators

Shop for Gas regulators and hoses

Victorian man in a London street at night lit by gas lamp Gas regulators were invented in Victorian times, when a patent was filed in 1825 for a device to make gas flow through pipes more smoothly.

The idea was to solve the problem of London’s gas-fired street lamps, which had only been installed only a few years earlier and were having teething troubles.

Victorian man lighting a gas lamp in a London street near Big Ben The lamps needed a lot of maintenance and worked erratically because gas was flowing unevenly through the pipes. This was partly due to pipes being laid at different street levels, which meant gas had to flow up and down hill.
Victorian gas lamp with flames shooting out Also, demand for gas varied according to the time of day. When some lamps were extinguished because they were no longer needed, others would shoot out much higher flames because the pressure was raised in the rest of the system. This was not only dangerous but also a big waste of gas.
Diagram showing high pressure gas flowing through pipe High pressure was required to push the gas through the pipework, and because the pipes were laid in long lengths they offered a lot of resistance. The longer the pipe, the greater the resistance that had to be overcome, so the more pressure was needed.

Gas regulators were brought in to reduce the pressure to a safe and usable level.

Wonkee Donkee says gas regulators work like electrical transformers
Early diver with regulator backpack, brass helmet and air hose Gas regulators for other purposes emerged later that century. The first regulator for use with breathing apparatus was invented in 1860 by Benoît Rouquayrol, a French mining engineer, to help miners survive poisonous gas leaks.

Just a few years later, in 1864, he got together with a French navy lieutenant to adapt it for use underwater. However, divers could only walk a short distance as they were attached to a hose fed from the surface.

Diver with aqualung cylinders on his back about to go into the sea More sophisticated diving regulators arrived when the famous French diver Jacques Cousteau brought out the AquaLung in 1943.

The regulator was attached directly to cylinders on the diver’s back, rather than air tanks on board a boat or a harbour wall. This gave divers the freedom to roam much greater distances underwater, and scuba diving (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) was born.

Small Campingaz stove with cylinder Regulators for use with outdoor cooking and heating appliances made their first appearance in France in 1949, when the Campingaz Company started making small refillable gas canisters with special stoves attached to the top.

This made camping much more popular as people didn’t have to struggle with lighting fires to heat up food and water.

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