Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/105

This page has been validated.

6. The cost of the copper wire, reckoned at eight pence per pound, is £37,000; the interest on which at five per cent, is £1,900 a year. If 5,250 horse-power at the Niagara end costs more than £1,900 a year, it would be better economy to put more copper into the conductor; if less, less. I say no more on this point at present, as the economy of copper for electric conduction will be the subject of a special communication to the section.

I shall only say, in conclusion, that one great difficulty in the way of economizing the electrical transmitting power to great distances (or even to moderate distances of a few kilometres) is now overcome by Faure's splendid invention. High potential, as Siemens, I believe, first pointed out, is the essential for good dynamical economy in the electric transmission of power. But what are we to do with 80,000 volts when we have them at the civilized end of the wire? Imagine a domestic servant going to dust an electric lamp with 80,000 volts on one of its metals! Nothing above 200 volts ought on any account ever to be admitted into a house or ship or other place where safeguards against accident can not be made absolutely and for ever trustworthy against all possibility of accident. In an electric workshop 80,000 volts is no more dangerous than a circular saw. Till I learned Faure's invention I could but think of step-down dynamos, at a main receiving-station, to take energy direct from the electric main with its 80,000 volts, and supply it by secondary 200 volt dynamos or 100 volt dynamos, through proper distributing wires, to the houses and factories and shops where it is to be used for electric lighting, and sewing-machines, and lathes, and lifts, or whatever other mechanism wants driving power. Now the thing is to be done much more economically, I hope, and certainly with much greater simplicity and regularity, by keeping a Faure battery of 40,000 cells always being charged direct from the electric main, and applying a methodical system of removing sets of fifty, and placing them on the town-supply circuits, while other sets of fifty are being regularly introduced into the great battery that is being charged, so as to keep its number always within fifty of the proper number, which would be about 40,000 if the potential at the emitting end of the main is 80,000 volts.



CAN man reach and pass the age of a hundred years? is a question concerning which physiologists have different opinions. Buffon was the first one in France to raise the question of the extreme limit of human life. In his opinion, man, becoming adult at sixteen, ought