Edmond ('Edmund') Davy


Edmund Davy (1785–1857) was a English chemist known for his significant contributions to the field of chemistry and electrochemistry during the 19th century. He was the second son of William Davy and a cousin of Sir Humphry Davy, a renowned chemist who invented the Davy safety lamp for miners.

Edmund’s early career involved working alongside his cousin, Humphry Davy, at the Royal Institution in London, where he managed the laboratory and the Royal Society’s mineralogical collection. He made notable discoveries, including the detection of metallic poisons through electricity and the catalytic properties of finely divided platinum, which could ignite in the presence of coal gas and air, and turn alcohol vapours into acetic acid.

One of his most significant contributions was the discovery of acetylene gas in 1836, which he recognised as a new carburet of hydrogen. He foresaw its potential as an illuminating gas for artificial light.

Davy was also involved in research related to corrosion prevention, using zinc blocks to protect iron structures from rust, and he promoted scientific knowledge, particularly in agriculture. He published papers on topics such as manures, the use of peat for deodorising, and the effects of arsenic on plant growth.

Despite his contributions, his work often remained overshadowed by other scientists, and modern principles modified some of his chemical views. Nevertheless, his diligence, thoroughness, and contributions to science earned him recognition, including a fellowship in the Royal Society.

Edmund Davy passed away in Kimmage Lodge (now called Northbrook) situated close to the Kimmage Cross Roads. In the 1800s and 1900s, the Davy’s had significant influence in the village of Crumlin, with one descendant serving as the village priest and another as the local doctor, both living in Kimmage Lodge.
Edmund Davy’s legacy includes pioneering work in chemistry, electrochemistry, and catalysis, as well as an enduring influence on the study of gases and the practical applications of chemistry.

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Connection with area: Chemist who lived in Kimmage Lodge