Normal butylene is a readily condensible gas.
The latter possesses the physical property stated above which distinguishes a gas from a fluid, but it differs from a gas by being readily condensible to a liquid, either by lowering the temperature or moderately increasing the pressure.
There is very little doubt that the general course of the decompositions follows these iines; but any such simple explanation of the actions taking place is rendered impossible by the fact that, instead of the breaking-down of the hydrocarbons being completed in the coal, and only secondary reactions taking place in the retort, in practice the hydrocarbons to a great extent leave the coal as the vapours of condensible hydrocarbons, and the breaking down of these to such simple gaseous compounds as ethylene is proceeding in the retort at the same time as the breaking up of the ethylene already formed into acetylene and methane, and the polymerization of the former into higher compounds.
A partly successful attempt to make use of certain portions of the liquid products of distillation of coal before condensation by the second method was the Dinsmore process, in which the coal gas and vapours which, if allowed to cool, would form tar, were made to pass through a heated chamber, and a certain proportion of otherwise condensible hydrocarbons was thus converted into permanent gases.
Undoubtedly the best process which has been proposed for the production of oil gas to be used in the enrichment of coal gas is the" Young "or" Peebles "process, which depends on the principle of washing the oil gas retorted at a moderate temperature by means of oil which is afterwards to undergo decomposition, because in this way it is freed from all condensible vapours, and only permanent gases are allowed to escape to the purifiers.