Videnskabshistorisk Selskab


Professor emeritus, FD Anders Lundgren,

Institutionen för idé och lärdomshistoria, Uppsala Universitet:

How to Build a Chemical Industry. The Role of Science and Other Forms of Knowledge During the End of the 19th Century


It is a common view that technology is applied science. At the same time, there has been a constant cry for more science in the chemical industry since the very beginning of the industry. Should one listen carefully to all these arguments, science was never a part of chemical industry, because the argument in general go “now, finally, industry is based on science” where “now” can be any time in history. But regardless of such statements, chemical industry has endlessly developed something which seems to disprove the view that technology is applied science.

In this paper, I will argue, using examples from the Swedish sulphuric acid, phosphate, paper, and electrochemical industries during the end of the 19th century, that the knowledge needed to develop and to run such industries (so-called production knowledge) consists of many different parts. Contrary to general belief, academic science is but a small part. Whereas academic chemical knowledge functions on a laboratory level, production knowledge should function in large scale operations. The differences between these two forms of knowledge are considerable. Theoretical calculations do rarely if ever coincide with actual yield. Furthermore, industrial processes involve such things as hands-on knowledge of running processes, qualitative judgments of the raw material used, adaption to changing outer conditions like weather and season, work organization and not least economic considerations. This knowledge is essential for the industry, but is not learned in an academic laboratory or by theoretical studies, but only on-the-spot at the industrial plant itself.

Katrinedal     Goldschmidt & Nordholms Farveri     Silkeborg Papirfabrik

tirsdag den 5. marts 2013

Info om selskabet
In English