Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/221

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SCIENCE IN RELATION TO THE ARTS.
Coloring-matter £3,350,000
Sulphate of ammonia 1,947,000
Pitch (325,000 tons) 365,000
Creosote (25,000,000 gallons) 208,000
Crude carbolic acid (1,000,000 gallons) 100,000
Gas-coke, 4,000,000 tons (after allowing 2,000,000 tons consumption in working the retorts) at 12s 2,400,000
—————
Total £8,370,000

Taking the coal used, 9,000,000 tons at 12s., equal £5,400,000, it follows that the by-products exceed in value the coal used by very nearly £3,000,000.

In using raw coal for heating purposes these valuable products are not only absolutely lost to us, but in their stead we are favored with those semi-gaseous by-products in the atmosphere too well known to the denizens of London and other large towns as smoke. Professor Roberts has calculated that the soot in the pall hanging over London on a winter's clay amounts to fifty tons, and that the carbonic oxide, a poisonous compound, resulting from the imperfect combustion of coal, may be taken as at least five times that amount. Mr. Aitken has shown, moreover, in an interesting paper communicated to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, last year, that the fine dust resulting from the imperfect combustion of coal is mainly instrumental in the formation of fog; each particle of solid matter attracting to itself aqueous vapor; these globules of fog are rendered particularly tenacious and disagreeable by the presence of tar-vapor, another result of imperfect combustion of raw fuel, which might be turned to much better account at the dye-works. The hurtful influence of smoke upon public health, the great personal discomfort to which it gives rise, and the vast expense it indirectly causes through the destruction of our monuments, pictures, furniture, and apparel, are now being recognized, as is evinced by the success of recent Smoke Abatement Exhibitions. The most effectual remedy would result from a general recognition of the fact that, wherever smoke is produced, fuel is being consumed wastefully, and that all our calorific effects, from the largest down to the domestic fire, can be realized as completely and more economically, without allowing any of the fuel employed to reach the atmosphere unburnt. This most desirable result may be effected by the use of gas for all heating purposes, with or without the addition of coke or anthracite.

The cheapest form of gas is that obtained through the entire distillation of fuel in such gas-producers as are now largely used in working the furnaces of glass, iron, and steel works; but gas of this description would not be available for the supply of towns owing to its bulk, about two thirds of its volume being nitrogen. The use of water-gas, resulting from the decomposition of steam in passing through a hot chamber filled with coke, has been suggested, but this gas is also objectionable, because it contains, besides hydrogen, the poisonous and inodorous