| The 1856 Pike Catalogue describes the Fire
Syringe: "This instrument is used for producing instantaneous light, by
means of the condensation of air. It consists of a stout condensing syringe,
having a solid piston with a hole, for containing a small piece of tinder,
at the end. Upon forcing down the piston quickly, the air within the tube
is rapidly condensed, and the condensation occasions so great an evolution
of heat as to light the tinder." The deluxe model cost $6.00.
Presumably Rudolf Diesel knew of this demonstration when he started developing his compression engine.
These two unmarked examples are in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.
|| The description of this Fire Syringe in the 1941 Central
Scientific Catalogue notes that the apparatus is used “for demonstrating
in a striking manner the conversion of molecular kinetic energy into heat.
In other forms, the difficulty has been to fit the plunger tightly to the cylinder and yet provide for rapid compression. Furthermore, the syringes have been lightly constructed and not easily handled. In the Cenco-Improved form, the piston fits snugly but without sticking on the down-thrust. The bottom of the piston is formed into a cup in which the tinder is placed. The outfit is mounted on a stable base and the handle is made large for comfort and convenience of operation.
In use, some dry tinder is placed in the cup at the bottom of the piston. The piston is started gradually into the cylinder and then suddenly and vigorously forced down as far as it will go. When quickly withdrawn, the tinder will be found burning, having been kindled by the head developed by compression of the air in the cylinder.
Dimensions: Length of cylinder, 30 cm, diameter 17 cm [this is probably 17 mm}”
The price of this piece of apparatus was $5.00, and it
is in the collection of the University of Vermont.