The challenges of effectively burning natural gas date back much further than one might think. Natural gas seeps were first discovered in China as early as 900 B.C. Surprisingly, natural gas was not discovered in the United States until around 1815 during the digging of a salt brine well in Charleston, W.V., and it was not until 1886 when natural gas was first discovered in the northeastern states.
Some of the early issues with burning natural gas for industrial use included difficulty in keeping the flame consistently lit and achieving the higher temperatures necessary for melting glass and metals. “As early as the 1800s a chemist named T.R. Bunsen invented a burner that produced a very hot — and practically non-luminous — flame by permitting air to enter at the base of the burner to mix with gas before igniting.”1 It was not until the early 1900s, however, that these principles of premixing gas and air were applied to industrial burners.