Marsh gas installation
About 1850 farmer Wouter Sluis from De Beemster discovered something strange in the water that came from the Norton well. As it came to the surface, the water looked slightly milky white. If you put it in a bucket and let it stand for an hour, the water became clear. The gas bubbles escaped from the water, leaving it clear again. At Westerhem Agricultural Museum there is an almost exact replica of the marsh gas installation made in 1895. The major different is the well pipe that used to be made of wood is now produced in PVC.
After some experimentation, Wouter Sluis discovered that the gas bubbles were of flammable gas. It took almost 45 years to figure out how to make this flammable gas suitable for (household) use. Together with the firm Lankelma, an installation was developed that could separate the gas from the Norton well water. It was now suitable for use.
This marsh gas is a result of bacterial decomposition of organic material, such as plants and algae, in the sandy packages under the Holocene peat and clay layers. The marsh gas contains about eighty percent methane and twenty percent nitrogen and carbon dioxide.
In 1950 there were 816 sources of gas, now there are only a few. Bad weather creates more gas.