Hermann Blau
Hermann Blau

Blau gas (German: Blaugas) is an artificial illuminating gas, similar to propane, named after its inventor, Hermann Blau[1][2] of Augsburg, Germany. Not or rarely used or produced today, it was manufactured by decomposing mineral oils in retorts by heat, and compressing the resulting naphtha until it liquefied. It was transported in liquid condition, and, like LPG, when released returns to a gaseous state.[3]

Blau gas has a rather water-like color. It was historically stored in steel cylinders for shipment, and, around the turn of the century, had the advantage of possessing the highest specific energy of all artificially produced gases. Chemically, Blau gas is similar to coal gas, but, unlike coal gas, is free from carbon monoxide. Furthermore, Blau gas is difficult to bring to explosion.[4][5]

Blau gas was burned for lighting and heating; a less-pure form known as Pintsch gas fuelled illuminated buoys and beacons (for navigation), railroad car lights and stoves in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Blau gas is most famous, however, as the buoyancy compensating fuel for the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin.[6] Because it weighs approximately the same as air, burning Blau gas and thereby replacing its volume with air does not lighten the gas cells of an airship, thereby eliminating the need to adjust buoyancy or ballast in-flight.[7]

Blau gas contains about 50% olefins (alkenes), 37% methane and other alkanes, 6% hydrogen, while the rest is air. The heat of combustion is 122 MJ/m3.[4]

See also


  1. ^ John Bonner; George William Curtis; Henry Mills Alden; Samuel Stillman Conant; John Foord; Montgomery Schuyler; John Kendrick Bangs; Richard Harding Davis; Carl Schurz; George Brinton McClellan Harvey; Henry Loomis Nelson; Norman Hapgood (1908). Harper's weekly. Harper's Magazine Co. Retrieved 3 May 2012. hermann Blau blaugass.
  2. ^ Chamber of Commerce journal of Maine. 1913. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  3. ^ The Modern world encyclopaedia : illustrated. Home Entertainment Library. 1935. OCLC 1091880941.
  4. ^ a b "Blau Gas".
  5. ^ Teed, P. L. (1931). "Gas Fuels for Airships: The Manufacture of Blau Gas, with Details of Some Possible Alternatives". Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology. 3 (2): 41–42. doi:10.1108/eb029368.
  6. ^ Graf Zeppelin site Archived 25 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Blue Gas & Hydrogen". Time, 15 October 1928