Imágenes de páginas

Ramsay and Cameron tried radium emanation on electrolysis of water, and obtained a larger amount of hydrogen than should have been obtained. They next tried three experiments. (1) Dry radium gave nearly all hydrogen; (2) radium on a saturated solution of an acid copper salt, no hydrogen was obtained but the element lithium; (3) effect of radium on electrolysis of water, no heavy hydrogen was evolved nor light argon, but the element neon between the two. Radium emits a gas with explosive violence.

The results described above led to the conclusion that elements may be changed one into another, but this change is always a degradation or breaking down of heavier into lighter matter; e. g., radium, atomic weight 227, into helium, atomic weight 4, or into lithium, atomic weight 7. The farreaching possibilities of such observations cannot be estimated; it involves transformations of matter of which we have no conception. It indicates moreover subtle transformations in energy far exceeding anything in our former experience, but in strict accordance with the powerful forces of nature in their quiet but never ceasing operation.

In view of the universal extravagance and waste of priceless resources and the astounding loss now in progress, it would seem that man is scarcely worthy of his claim to be an animal endowed with reason. This reckless waste and utter disregard of future consequences is well nigh incomprehensible. It requires the most rigid enforcement of the state law to prevent man from polluting his water supplies by his own sewage and refuse until they become a danger and menace to health; witness the condition of our own water supply taken from a source in close proximity to the dumping ground of the city's sewage. With no restraint it appears that our timber and wood supplies will practically disappear within two decades. It is merely a question of a limited time when the present abundant supplies of coal and oil will be only memories.

Another present prominent point of attack is our atmosphere. mentioned above, this storehouse is now being drawn on for the manufacture of commercial oxygen and nitrogen. Stimulated by the estimated exhaustion of the supply of nitrogen for fertilizer in the Chile deposits of niter within the next thirty years, many vigorous attempts are now in progress and it is said with commercial success in Norway, to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a fertilizing form. With the world drawing on the atmosphere for oxygen and nitrogen for manufacturing purposes, a limit may be reached when man will be concerned as to where he will get his breath.

In view of the prospective destruction of his supply of coal, his water supply shut off by the destruction of the forests, or so far polluted that he cannot use it, and his atmosphere harnessed for commercial purposes, man may well be ready in the not far distant future with the Seventh Day Adventist to close up his earthly accounts and be ready for the horn of Gabriel. Consider the immense loss in energy in coal from the time the mine is


opened until the energy from the coal burned under the boiler is utilized as power. A very large proportion of the veins is not taken out at all, but the mine is filled up with refuse after the readily removable portions are taken out. Another large portion is thrown aside as fine slack not convenient for transportation. In the production of steam for power doubtless 10% of the total energy in the coal is in excess of what is realized as power.

With the present low prices of run of mine coal the manufacturer considers it more economical to push his boilers to their utmost capacity regardless of loss due to incomplete combustion. But in this respect he is working to his own disadvantage, for it has been clearly demonstrated that it is not good business economy to allow incomplete combustion. Recent results in the mechanical laboratory of the Illinois State University afford abundant and conclusive proof that no factory can economically neglect the precautions necessary to insure perfect combustion. It would be an immense saving in coal and a great conservation of energy if the production of power could be carried on at the mine, where the finest slack could all be used in the powdered form with an air blast such as is used in cement rotary kilns, which is the most economical way to burn coal.

Either in the form of gas or electricity the energy may be transported to the manufacturing or the larger populated centers. This is sure to follow the more complete exhaustion of natural gas, which cannot stand the present immense drain many years. It is not easy to realize what a change in the city atmosphere would result from the removal of the combination of coal. The consumption of coal has increased enormously within recent years; fifteen years ago the total annual consumption in this city was 1,000,000 tons; at present the total is not far from 5,000,000 tons. The coal used here contains from 1 to 2 per cent of sulphur; taking 12 per cent as the average, the amount of sulphur contained in the coal yearly consumed ist 75,000 tons, which is ultimately converted into sulphuric acid, and exists in the atmosphere in this form. This weight of sulphuric acid derived from the sulphur is 230,000 tons a year or 63 tons for every day in the year. Is it any wonder that bindings deteriorate, that fabrics are destroyed, and that nails on roofs are quickly destroyed under the influence of the most destructive acid we know, when its presence may be detected in the leaves and bark of trees, in soot and dust everywhere? No doubt the situation may be somewhat relieved by the prevention of smoke, for the acid collects in the soot. In a clear atmosphere the acid is more quickly and generally distributed and causes less damage. But in a heavy, damp, sooty atmosphere, with little wind, the effects are serious. The effects of a soot-laden atmosphere on vegetation are readily recognized by the most ordinary observation. The blackening of tree trunks, the early decay of foliage by soot, which always carries sulphuric acid, are apparent on every hand. It is well understood by physicians that soot finds its way into the lungs and produces irritation of

the membranes; such effects are not acute, but gradual accumulation inevitably leads to a diseased condition more or less marked.

It is not possible to realize economical results in a boiler plant when reducing conditions are present, as indicated by the escape from the stack of large volumes of soot, even at the present low prices for fuel. As mentioned above, it is a serious loss to the manufacturer as well as to the general public. Formerly the manufacturer took refuge behind the situation with reference to lack of suitable and reliable appliances for smoke prevention. But this excuse is no longer available, and really was not then adequate, for there were large boiler plants from which the escape of black smoke was prevented by the very simple device of preheating and more intense afterheating. At present there is not the slightest excuse for the escape of soot, for the construction and firing have been perfected to a point where only the most ordinary care is necessary.

One of the worst features of soot as a nuisance in this city is the great quantities sent forth during the passage of heavy freight trains through the center of the select residential section. With the use of soft coal in locomotives pushed to their utmost capacity, and with firing forced by the aid of steam, it is practically impossible to prevent the escape of black smoke. The only remedy at present seems to be the substitution of electric motors within the city limits, and no doubt that will sooner or later be adopted as it has been in New York.

Fifteen years ago determinations of the quantities of soot in the atmosphere of this city were made under my direction at various points. From general observation of the downtown districts it often seems as if the condition is not much different, yet it must be remembered that nearly five times as much coal is now consumed.

In a democratic government the prime moving force is public opinion or the general expression of a sentiment which leads to the exertion of adequate power, especially for the correction of public abuses or those affecting a large proportion of the community. Unlike the conditions in a European monarchy under the centralized power, individual rights are more in evidence, but affected by the slower action of the community.

This convention is a result, and the existence of this Society for the Prevention of Smoke the outcome of the vigorous expression of the feeling that the public must be protected from discomfort, inconvenience and loss due to imperfect combustion of soft coal.

That the efforts put forth have been partially successful is evident from the improved conditions. Furthermore if some restriction had not been enforced, it is readily evident that the conditions in our own city atmosphere would have become unbearable.

But in what concerns immediate pecuniary details in large financial or manufacturing operations, adequate control of the situation is often only reached by vigilant and vigorous enforcement of any ordinance.

An English traveler in this country concludes that we are a much oppressed people; he observes that our costly highways are literally sucked up and destroyed by the high-speeded automobile, in the face of an ordinance that prohibits the destructive high speed. He sees residents annoyed and subjected to loss by black smoke without complaint or without protection if complaint be made. He notes a loss of life by railroads exceeding that of any other country, and that no effectual attempts are made toward protection. He returns home better satisfied with his own routine, and convinced that the boasted freedom of democratic government is a delusoin and a snare. While we may not agree with our English friend in all his conclusions, it is pretty evident that individual rights and comforts and personal safety are not protected as they should be in the modern exploitation and expansion of great enterprises and the eager pursuit of large financial


At Kensington, a suburb of Pittsburg, The Pittsburg Reduction Co. has installed a continuous mill for rolling aluminum sheets, the only one of its kind in existence. This mill is said to have a larger capacity for rolling sheets than any mill in the country. The company is also making some additions to its power plant at this place, including one 400 h. p. Parker boiler and two 300 h. p. Westinghouse gas engines. With the completion of this work the power capacity of the New Kensington works will have been about doubled.

A new rolling and sheet mill has been also in course of construction at Niagara Falls, and will be one of the largest and most complete sheet rolling mills in America. At Niagara Falls the lower plant, using power supplied from the canal of the Niagara Falls Power and Manufacturing Co., has been increased to use 45.000 h. p. divided into five units of 9,000 h. p. each.

At Massena the company has purchased the entire plant of the St. Lawrence Power Co., with its canal and power house of 40,000 h. p. capacity, and is preparing to dredge out the canal to double this capacity. A new power house for this enlarged capacity was started in 1907, and eight large water wheels to absorb the capacity of the first canal have been purchased for installation in the old power house.

Last year's production of copper, for the first time in 15 years, shows a decrease; the world's total output in 1907 was 713,000 tons, the principal producers contributing as follows: United States 421,400, England 72,400, Central and South America 57,000, Germany 31.900, Japan 45,000, Austria 32,500, Russia 15,000. The consumption, as estimated, was in tons : United States 232,600, Germany 149,800, Great Britain 108,200, France 65,000, Russia 18,000, and Asia, Africa and Australia together 32,600.



In a paper read by me before the Manchester Section of the Society in 1903 (this J. 1903, 1331) it was stated that the sulphuric acid factory of the future might appear small and different from the present ones, but that it ought to have a high producing capacity, and that all expenses and amortisations would amount to a small quota on the cost of manufacture. Then, as now, the whole struggle between the contact and the chamber systems of sulphuric acid manufacture resolves itself into a question of economy, and, therefore, if the chamber process is to hold its own against the contact process, the producing capacity of a plant of a given size must be improved, and its cost be much lessened. To increase the yield of sul

Chem Eng

Fig. 1 Method of Suspending Sides of Lead Chamber.

phuric acid monohydrate per pound of sulphur burnt is hardly possible, since this is already very near theory and the cost of an attempt to improve on it would be disproportionate. Mechanical burners, Meyer's round tangential chambers, fans in various places, and atomized water instead of steam, have now become frequent, and several works in this country have altered their plant with good results. In the same paper it was stated that smaller chambers instead of very long ones had become the rule, and now the tendency is to make the height greater than the length and width. A plant was then mentioned with chambers 5.5 meters wide and 9 meters high, the longest chamber in the set being 25 m., whilst the shortest was only 7 m. Meyer's chambers have so far been built with a maximum diameter of 34 ft. and of about the same height. Now a rectangular chamber has been rebuilt which originally was, as usual, 20 ft. high, producing 3.4 kilos. of sulphuric acid per cb. m. (equivalent to 14 cb. f. of chamber space per

1Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry, July 15, 1908.

« AnteriorContinuar »