Letter | Published:

The Constitution of Mercury Derived from Coal Tar


IT will doubtless be a surprise to many readers of NATURE, as it was to me, to hear that the element mercury is obtained in the distillation of coal tar. This fact was recently brought to my notice by Mr. W. Kirby, of the South Metropolitan Gas Co., who kindly provided me with a sample for examination of its isotopic constitution. He informs me that the mercury appears in the lightest of the fractions distilled and occurs to the extent of about one part in seven millions of undistilled tar. Its accumulation in any reasonable quantity will, therefore, take place only in a plant arranged for continuous fractionation.

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