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James Dewar

James Dewar

Inventor of the vacuum flask

An experimental scientist, Dewar’s speciality was liquefying and freezing gasses, and he devised a vacuum jacket to maintain their temperature. Known as the Dewar flask, it was later marketed commercially as the Thermos flask. He also developed cordite, the explosive propellant.

More About James Dewar. Sir James Dewar was born at Kincardine-on-Forth in 1842 and was educated at Dollar
Academy and Edinburgh University. Remembered mainly for his invention of the vacuum flask, Dewar was also an eminent chemist and brilliant experimental physicist with particular interests in low temperature chemistry, the liquefaction of gases and spectroscopy. He jointly discovered cordite with Sir Frederick Abel.

It was his work at low temperatures which led to the idea of the vacuum flask or Dewar flask in 1892. His invention was brought to consumers in 1904 when it was realised the 'Thermos', as it became commonly known, could be used equally well to keep liquids for consumption hot as well as cold.

Dewar was also the first to demonstrate that metals conduct electricity better at very low temperatures, a discovery which led eventually to the use of superconductors in the computing industry. He received many honours and awards during his distinguished career, and was knighted in 1904.

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