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814
IRON AND STEEL


shape is needed in order that, in spite of the pastiness of the slag in this formative period of incipient fusion, this layer may descend freely as the lower part of the column is gradually eaten away. To this very plausible theory it may be objected that in many slowrunnin furnaces, which work very regularly and show no sign of scaffolding, the outward Hare of the boshes continues (though steepened) far above this region of pastiness, indeed nearly half-way to the top of the furnace. This proves that the regular descent of the material in its pasty state can take place even in a space which is narrowing downwards. To this objection it may in turn be answered that, though this degree of freedom of descent may suffice for a slow running furnace, particularly if the slag is given such a composition that it passes quickly from the solid state to one of decided fluidity, yet it is not enough for swift-running ones, especially if the composition of the slag is such that, in melting, it remains ong in a very sticky condition. In limiting the diameter at the tuyeres to 12% ft., the height of the boshes to one which will keep their upper end below the region of pastiness, and their slope to one over which the burning coke will descend freely, we limit the width of the furnace at the top of the boshes and thus complete the outline of the lower part of the furnace.

The height of the furnace is rarely as great as loo ft., and in the belief of many metallurgists it should not be much more than 80 ft. There are some very evident disadvantages of excessive height; for instance, that the weight of an excessively high column of solid coke, ore and limestone tends to crush the coke and jam the charge in the lower and narrowing part of the furnace, and that the frictional resistance of a long column calls for a greater consumption of power for driving the blast up through it. Moreover, this resistance increases much more rapidly than the height of the furnace, even if the rapidity with which the blast is forced through is constant; and it still further increases if the additional space gained by lengthening the furnace is made useful by increasing proportionally the rate of production, as indeed would naturally be done, because the chief motive for gaining this additional space is to increase production.

The reason why the frictional resistance would be further increased is the very simple one that the increase in the rate of production implies directly a corresponding increase in the guantity of blast forced through, and hence in the velocity of the rising gases, be cause the chemical work of the blast furnace needs a certain quantity of blast for each ton of iron made. In short, to increase the rate of production by lengthening the furnace increases the frictional resistance of the rising gases, both by increasing their quantity and hence their velocity and by lengthening their path. Indeed, one important reason for the difficulties in working very high furnaces, e.g. those loo ft. high, may be that this frictional resistance becomes so great as actually to interrupt the even descent of the charge, parts o which are at times suspended like a ball in the rising jet of a fountain, to fall perhaps with destructive violence when some shiftipig condition momentarily lessens the friction. We see how powe ul must be the lifting e ect of the rising gases when we reflect that their velocity in a Ioo ft. furnace rapidly driven is probably at least as great as 2000 ft. per minute, or that of a “ high wind.” Conceive these gases passing at this great velocity through the narrow openings between the adjoining lumps of coke and ore. Indeed, the velocity must be far greater than this where the edge or corner of one lump touches the side of another, and the onlly room for the passage of this enormous quantity of gas is that le t by the roughness and irregularity of the individual lumps. The furnace is made rather narrow at the top or “ stock line, ” in order that the entering ore, fuel and flux may readily be distributed evenly. But extreme narrowness would not only cause the escaping gases to move so swiftly that they would sweep much of the fine ore out of the furnace, but would also throw needless work on the blowing engines by throttling back the rising gases, and would lessen unduly the space available for the charge in the upper part of the furnace.

From its top down, the walls of the furnace slope outward at an angle of between 3° and 8°, partly in order to ease the descent of the charge, here impeded by the swelling of the individual particles of ore caused by the deposition within them of great quantities of fine carbon, by the reaction of 2CO=C+CO2. To widen it more abruptly would indeed increase the volume of the furnace, but would probably lead to grave irregularities in the distribution of the gas and charge, and hence in the working of the furnace.

When we have thus fixed the height of the furnace, its diameter at its ends, and the slope of its upper and lower parts, we have completed its outline closely enough for our purpose here.

69. H ot Blast and Dry Blast.-On its way from the blowing engine to the tuyeres of the blast-furnace, the blast, i.e. the air forced in for the purpose of burning the fuel, is usually pre-heated, and in some of the most progressive works is dried by Ga.yley's refrigerating process. These steps lead to a saving of fuel so great as to be astonishing at first sight-indeed in case of Gayley's blast-drying process incredible to most writers, who proved easily and promptly to their own satisfaction that the actual saving was impossible. But the explanation is really so very simple that it is rather the incredulity of these writers that is astonishing. In the hearth of the blast furnace the heat made latent by the fusion of the iron and slag must of course be supplied by some body which is itself at a temperature above the melting point of these bodies, which for simplicity of exposition we may call the critical temperature of the blast-furnace process, because heat will flow only from a hotter to a cooler object. Much the same is true of the heat needed for the deoxidation of the silica, SiO-fi-2C=Si+2C02. Now the heat developed by the combustion of coke to carbonic oxide with cold air containing the usual quantity of moisture, develops a temperature only slightly above this critical point; and it is only the heat represented by this narrow temperature-margin that is available for doing this critical work of fusion and deoxidation. That is the crux of the matter. If by pre-heating the blast we add to the sum of the heat available; or if by drying it we subtract from the work to be done by that heat the quantity needed for decomposing the atmospheric moisture; or if by removing part of its nitrogen we lessen the mass over which the heat developed has to be spread-if by any of these means we raise the temperature developed by the combustion of the coke, it is clear that we increase the proportion of the total heat which is available for this critical work in exactly the way in which we should increase the proportion of the water of a stream, initially Ioo in. deep, which should flow over a waste weir initially I in. beneath the stream's surface, by raising the upper surface of the water IO in. and thus increasing the depth of the water to no in. Clearly this raising the level of the water by 10% increases tenfold, or by 1000%, the volume of water which is above the level of the weir.

The special conditions of the blast-furnace actually exaggerate the saving due to this widening of the available temperature-margin, and beyond this drying the blast does great good by preventing the serious irregularities in working the furnace caused by changes in the humidity of the air with varying weather.

7o. Means of Heating the Blast.-After the ascending column of gases has done its work of heating and deoxidizing the ore, it still necessarily contains so much carbonic oxide, usually between zo and 26 % by weight, that it is a very valuable fuel, part of which is used for raising steam for generating the blast itself and driving the rolling mill engines, &c., or directly in gas engines, and the rest for heating the blast. This heating was formerly done by burning part of the gases, after their escape from the furnace top, in a large combustion chamber, around a series of cast iron pipes through which the blast passed on its way from the blowing engine to the tuyeres. But these “iron pipe stoves” are fast going out of use, chiefly because they are destroyed quickly if an attempt is made to heat the blast above tooo” F. (538° C.), often a very important thing. In their place the regenerative stoves of the Whitwell and Cowper types (figs. IO and 1 1) are used. With these the regular temperature of the blast at some works is about 1400° F. (760°C.), and the usual blast temperature lies between 900° and 1200° F. f480 and 650 C.).

Like the Siemens furnace, described in § 99, they have two distinct phases: one, “ on gas, ” during which part of the waste gas of the blast-furnace is burnt within the stove, highly heating the great surface of brickwork which for that purpose is provided within it; the other, “on wind, ” during which the blast is heated by passing it back over these very surfaces which

have thus been heated. They are heat-filters or heat-traps for