James Young (1811-1883) was a Scottish inventor who first extracted paraffin from oil-rich shales and coals. He went on to set up a successful industry based on these principles. In 1848, he established an oil refinery at Alfreton, Derbyshire. Then, in 1850, he patented a process for extracting oil from cannel coal. Beginning in 1851, he established refineries in the Lothians, processing cannel-coal and oil shale years before the first American or Middle Eastern oil well was drilled. His patent, in which cannel coal was heated to a specified temperature within an enclosed vessel or "retort" in order to release an oil vapor, was the forerunner of modern oil shale conversion technologies.
- Gateway to Archives of Scottish Higher Education. Young, James 1811-1883, Chemist.