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BELLOWS AND BLOWING MACHINES


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Fig. 7.—Günther’s Blowing Fan.


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Fig. 8.—Günther’s Blowing Fan.


The useful effect of rotary fans, that is to say the proportion of the total power used to drive the fan which is actually utilized in producing the current of air, is very low for the smaller sizes, but may rise to 30-70% in sizes above 5 ft. in diameter. It has its maximum value for any given fan at a certain definite speed. Fans are most suitable in cases where it is required to move or deliver comparatively large volumes of air at pressures which are little above that of the atmosphere. Where the pressure of the current produced exceeds a quarter of a pound on the square inch the waste of work becomes so great as to preclude their use. The fan is not the most economical form of blower, but it is simple and inexpensive, both in first cost and in maintenance. The largest fans are used for ventilating purposes, chiefly in mines, their diameters rising to 40 or even 50 ft. The useful effect of some of these larger fans, as obtained from experiments, is as high as 75%. In the case of the Capell fan, which differs from other forms in that it has two series of blades, inner and outer, separated by a curved blank piece between the inner wings, dipping into the fan inlet, and the outer wings, very high efficiencies have been obtained, being as great as 90% in some cases. Capell fans are used for ventilating mines, buildings, and ships, and for providing induced currents for use in boiler furnaces. In the larger fans the casing, instead of having a curved section, is more often built of sheet steel and is given a rectangular section at right angles to the periphery. The Sirocco blowing fan, of Messrs Davidson of Belfast, has a larger number of blades, which are relatively narrow as measured radially, but wide axially. It can be made much smaller in diameter than fans of the older designs for the same output of air—a great advantage for use in ships or in buildings where space is limited—and its useful effect is also said to be superior. (See also Hydraulics, § 213.)

Helical or screw blowers, often called “air propellers,” are used where relatively large volumes of air have to be moved against hardly any perceptible difference in pressure, chiefly for purposes of ventilation and drying. Most often the propeller is used to move air from one room or chamber to another adjoining, and is placed in a light circular iron frame which is fixed in a hole in the wall through which the air is to be passed. The propeller itself consists of a series of vanes or wings arranged helically on a revolving shaft which is fixed in the centre of the opening. The centre line of the shaft is perpendicular to the plane of the opening so that when the vanes revolve the air is drawn towards and through the opening and is propelled away from it as it passes through. The action is similar to that of a steamship screw propeller, air taking the place of water. Such blowers are often driven by small electric motors working directly on the end of the shaft. For moving large volumes of air against little pressure and suction they are very suitable, being simpler than fans, cheaper both in first cost and maintenance for the same volume of air delivered, and less likely to fail or get out of order. To obtain the best effect for the power used a certain maximum speed of rotation must not be exceeded; at higher speeds a great deal of the power is wasted. For example, a propeller with a vane diameter of 2½ ft. was found to deliver a volume of air approximately proportional to the speed up to about 700 revolutions per minute, when 8000 cub. ft. per minute were passed through the machine; but doubling this speed to 1400 revolutions per minute only increased delivery by 1000 cub. ft. to 9000. At the lower of these speeds the horse-power absorbed was 0.6 and at the higher one 1.6.

Other Appliances for producing Currents of Air.—In its primitive form the “trompe” or water-blowing engine adopted in Savoy, Carniola, and some parts of America, consists of a long vertical wooden pipe terminating at its lower end in an air chest. Water is allowed to enter the top of the pipe through a conical plug and, falling down in streamlets, carries with it air which is drawn in through sloping holes near the top of the pipe. In this way a quantity of air is delivered into the chamber, its pressure depending on the height through which the water falls. This simple arrangement has been developed for use in compressing large volumes of air at high pressures to be used for driving compressed air machinery. It is chiefly used in America, and provides a simple and cheap means of obtaining compressed air where there is an abundant natural supply of water falling through a considerable height. The pressure obtained in the air vessel is somewhat less than half a pound per square inch for every foot of fall.

Natural sources of water are also used for compressing and discharging air by letting the water under its natural pressure enter and leave closed vessels, so alternately discharging and drawing in new supplies of air. Here the action is the same as in a blowing engine, the water taking the place of the piston. This method was first thoroughly developed in connexion with the Mt. Cenis tunnel works, and its use has since been extended.


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Fig. 9.—Steam-jet Blower.


In the jet blower (fig. 9) a jet of steam is used to induce a current of air. Into one end of a trumpet-shaped pipe B projects a steam pipe A. This steam pipe terminates in a small opening, say, one-eighth of an inch, through which the steam is allowed to