« PreviousContinue »
eiffcoal will yient in England and heat
cubic foot of waste gases from blast fur- horse power each for the California Gas naces, which operate the 40,000 horse and Electric Corporation. These are the power plant of the Lackawanna Steel largest gas engines yet built, though any Company at Buffalo and other large one who has the money to foot the bill plants elsewhere, contains only eighty to can find plenty of manufacturers ready one hundred British thermal units as to undertake larger ones. compared with 600 to 650 in a cubic foot The up-to-date gas engine power of illuminating gas. Producer gas is plant has gas producers instead of the hardly less poverty stricken, for it con- boilers of the steam plant. A gas protains only from 125 to 180 British ther- ducer costs about as much as a boiler of mal units to the cubic foot. It is alto- equal power with its accessories; but it gether too poor for lighting purposes, takes up less space, requires less work though it is used for cooking and heat to keep it going, needs no skilled labor ing to some extent in England. A pound and the expense of operation stops at the of coal will yield from seventy-two to same instant the work does. But the eighty feet of such gas.
principal saving is in the fuel bill. It In the last half dozen years the devel- has been claimed by one enthusiast that opment of the gas engine has been re- by using bituminous coal and selling the markable, particularly in the United by-products power could be generated States. European manufacturers were in a gas producer plant fourteen per cent spurred on to the adoption of the gas cheaper than water power. engine by the high price of fuel, while I t is not necessary to substantiate this here the movement has been accelerated roseate allegation to make out a good by the inherent ability of the American case for the gas producer power plant. to recognize a good thing when he sees An engine which can make one pound of it. The largest gas engine shown at the coal do the work of one horse for one World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 hour has a pretty strong claim upon the was of thirty-five horse power. When attention of power consumers who have the Lackawanna Steel Company wanted been taught to believe they were doing to install gas engines of 1,000 to 2,000 fine when they obtained the same result horse power in 1900 but one bid was sub- at four times the cost. In a test conmitted and that was from a foreign ducted at Algona, Iowa, by the State maker. Five years later when the Car- University, a producer gas engine of 150 negie Company wanted to buy similar nominal horsepower developed 156 engines for the Edgar Thomson Steel brake horse power on a coal consumpWorks twelve proposals from American tion of .999 pounds per horse power per builders were received. Today there are hour. Even with such expensive fuel an more than five hundred manufacturers of anthracite pea coal at $6 a ton the cost gas engines in the United States.
of the power developed was 2.99 mills When the United States Steel Cor- per brake horse power per hour. In anporation sent a representative to Europe other test near the mines in which the not so long ago in search of information fuel used was anthracite culm the cost regarding gas engines he was shown over was 1.5 mills per horse power per hour. a number of power plants. At last lie At the coal testing plant of the geosaid he was satisfied as far as he had logical survey at St. Louis in 1905 fourgone ; that what he had inspected would teen samples of coal from nine States do very nicely for small plants, but what were tested simultaneously in steam and he wanted to see was something big- gas producer power plants. The gas prothe biggest gas engine in existence. ducer and engine were found to be two Then the suggestion was delicately con- and a half times as efficient as the steam veyed to him that if he would return engine. In other words a given amount home and hunt up a 4,500 horse power of power could be developed in a gas progas engine he would find in operation ducer for forty per cent of the cost to there his desire would be gratified. Since generate the same amount if the coal then the builders of this engine, the were burned under a boiler. Snow Steam Pump Works, have filled Two motor boats were tested in a tenan order for four gas engines of 5,400 hour run from Hamburg to Kiel and re
turn one stormy day in June, 1905. One, the Gasschlepper, forty-four feet three inches long by ten feet six inches beam, was equipped with a four cylinder, seventy horse power gas engine, with suction gas producer. The other, the Elfreide, was forty-seven feet long and twelve feet beam and had a triple expansion steam engine of seventy-five horse power. The Gasschlepper exerted a pull of 2,140 pounds on the towing meter, the Elfreide 2,020 pounds. The former used only 530 pounds of anthra
cite on the run, the Elfreide 1,820 pounds of steam coal.
W. H. Laurie, a Canadian engineer, gives the cost of one brake horse power for one year from gasoline at $78; from illuminating gas, $46.80; from steam, $37.44; from producer gas from bituminous coal, $5.
A s for care the gas engine only asks to be let alone. Many large engines run ninety-seven per cent of the time, the three per cent of stoppages including those on account of the electric gener
ators to which they are attached. One the increases in capital stock made posfour hundred horse power engine ran sible by them. seven months without stopping. The Producer gas, then, is made with approducers do even better. The Erie paratus which consists of a generator, a Railroad has two producers of 200 horse vaporizer and a scrubber. The generpower each at Jersey City, one of which ator is a steel cylinder lined with firewas in continuous operation for seven brick, and having a revolving grate at the years. With the exception of the en- bottom. The bottom is closed by a water gineer in charge, the work around a gas seal which permits cleaning and removal producer power plant can be done by un- of ashes without interrupting the operaskilled men. If a gas receiver is used, and tion of the plant. At the top is an autoall large plants have them, the engine is matic charger, with double shutters, always ready to start. It can be brought through which coal can be introduced into full service in half a minute to a without interfering with the working of minute, for the cylinder requires no the generator. warming up and no draining as a steam To start up, the generator is filled with engine does. Even the producer can be fuel and lighted and the blower turned put in operation in fifteen or twenty on. Small plants have hand blowers, the minutes instead of the hour or hour and larger ones have blowers operated by a half needed to raise steam under a compressed air, which is stored while the boiler. Finally the gas producer power plant is in operation. When the coal is
plant is quiet and law-abiding. It is not incandescent, the air valve at the bottom forever lying in wait to get a chance to is closed and the valves are opened which blow the plant and everyone around it permit the gas to flow into the vaporizer. into smithereens. Explosions of cylin- This is a water-jacketed pipe or vessel ders or accidental gas explosions doing in which water is maintained at a condamage of any consequence are almost stant level. In passing through tlie unknown.
vaporizer the gas gives up its heat and in The instrumentality through which doing so generates a little steam in the such economic miracles are wrought surrounding water, which, mixed with possesses a lively interest for all. Rad- air is fed to the generator. The gas then ical reductions in the expense of power flows into the scrubber where impurities means a cheapening in the cost of pro- are washed out in a cylinder of coke upon duction of manufactured articles. Of which water is sprayed, through a water course the ordinary citizen does not seal and then over trays filled with sawdirectly profit by these economies, nor dust, when it is ready to go into the should he expect to do so ; but he is freely engine cylinder or into the receiver to welcome to the pleasure of reading about wait until wanted. The process is auto
apparatus requires to be more elaborate weighed but 250 pounds. The space octhan if anthracite or coke is used. In cupied was a negligible factor, as may large plants the gas is stored in a re- be inferred by the fact that the appearceiver as it is made. In small plants a ance of the automobile was not materisuction producer is used. In this case ally changed. In a test run the producer the suction of the engine draws off the consumed nineteen and one-eighth gas just as it is required, thus doing pounds of coke and two gallons of water away with the necessity for a receiver. per hour, making the cost six cents an The same operation which draws off the hour as compared with forty cents for gas sucks sufficient air and steam into gasoline. the generator to combine with the carbon A German manufacturer has turned and keep up the supply of gas. Only out a portable gas producer and engine anthracite and coke can be used in the on wheels to take the place of the portsuction producer. Bituminous coal con- able steam engine. The hopper carries tains too much tar. Suction gas pro- coal enough to keep the generator going ducers are particularly adapted to any for forty-eight hours. Narrow gauge work where small power is required, in- locomotives using producer gas are built cluding automobiles and motor boats; by the same manufacturer. but plants as large as 500 horse power The gas engine itself has been radically improved. It is no longer the cylinder only twenty-five per cent is single acting single cylinder affair of its utilized in work. Of the rest forty per callow days. Ten years ago a Scotch- cent goes into the water jacket and man found out how to make double act- thirty-five per cent is lost in the exhaust ing gas engines. Then others discovered and in radiation. that by driving two single acting cylin- There are many who feel sure that the ders tandem they could get as many in- next step in advance in power producpulses on a single crank as with a simple tion will be the gas turbine. A number steam engine, and, with twin tandems, have been tried, but none have proved as many impulses as from a cross- successful. The most recent was built in compound steam engine, and at the same France. In a trial last September it contime have a motor that was just as steady trived to turn into effective work eighrunning as the best regulated steam en- teen per cent of the heat value of the gine. This was all that was required to fuel supplied to it. One of the great adapt the gas engine perfectly to driving problems confronting the inventor who electric generators or doing other work would produce a gas turbine is how to requiring smooth, steady running. Large keep his machine from melting. The engines are started by compressed air temperature in an internal combustion which is stored for the purpose while engine sometimes reaches 2,000 degrees the engine is at work.
Centigrade, which is above the melting No large vessels have yet been point of platinum, to say nothing of cast equipped with gas producers and en- iron. The ordinary gas engine can be gines; but it has been demonstrated on kept cool with a water jacket; but the paper, at least, that such installation is swiftly revolving blades of a turbine are entirely practicable.. Vertical gas en- a different matter. The Frenchman regines of 3,000 to 5,000 horse power have ferred to kept the temperature of his turbeen built. Reversing, which is essen- bine blades down by introducing low tial in a marine engine, may be effected pressure steam. From this it may be by the use of compressed air. It is esti- seen that the gas turbine has a long way mated that the saving on the initial cost to go to get out of the woods. Indeed, of a 10,000 horse power producer gas The-Man-Who-Knows-It-Isn't-So has engine installation on shipboard would demonstrated the utter impossibility of be in the neighborhood of $45,000, that ever producing a practical gas turbine, the annual saving in operating expenses. just as conclusively as he proved that, would be somewhere near $60,000, and steamboats wouldn't go, that the first that the additional space saved if occu- transcontinental railroad could never be pied by cargo would pay ten per cent on built, or that the automobile was imposthe investment.
sible and dangerous and ought not to be While the producer gas engine is able allowed, any way. to show a record of results so far su- Edison says we know nothing now, but perior to the best performances of the that five hundred years hence we may steam engine there is still abundant begin to suspect. Perhaps the final soluscope for the exercise of inventive talent. tion of the power problem may fall under Of the heat generated in the gas engine suspicion in even less time.