Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/222

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

gas, carbonic oxide, the introduction of which into dwelling-houses could not be effected without considerable danger. A more satisfactory mode of supplying heating separately from illuminating-gas would consist in connecting the retort at different periods of the distillation with two separate systems of mains for the delivery of the respective gases. Experiments made some years ago by Mr. Ellisen, of the Paris gas-works, have shown that the gases rich in carbon, such as defiant and acetylene, are developed chiefly during an interval of time, beginning half an hour after the commencement and terminating at half the whole period of distillation, while during the remainder of the time, marsh gas and hydrogen are chiefly developed, which, while possessing little illuminating power, are most advantageous for heating purposes. By resorting to improved means of heating the retorts with gaseous fuel, such as have been in use at the Paris gas-works for a considerable number of years, the length of time for effecting each distillation may be shortened from six hours, the usual period in former years, to four, or even three hours, as now practiced at Glasgow and elsewhere. By this means a given number of retorts can be made to produce, in addition to the former quantity of illuminating-gas of superior quality, a similar quantity of heating-gas, resulting in a diminished cost of production and an increased supply of the valuable by-products previously referred to. The quantity of both ammonia and heating-gas may be further increased by the simple expedient of passing a streamlet of steam through the heated retorts toward the end of each operation, whereby the ammonia and hydrocarbons still occluded in the heated coke will be evolved, and the volume of heating-gas produced be augmented by the products of decomposition of the steam itself. It has been shown that gas may be used advantageously for domestic purposes with judicious management even under present conditions, and it is easy to conceive that its consumption for heating would soon increase, perhaps tenfold, if supplied separately at say one shilling a thousand cubic feet. At this price gas would be not only the cleanest and most convenient, but also the cheapest form of fuel, and the enormous increase of consumption, the superior quality of the illuminating-gas obtained by selection, and the proportionate increase of by-products, would amply compensate the gas company or corporation for the comparatively low price of the heating-gas.

The greater efficiency of gas as a fuel results chiefly from the circumstance that a pound of gas yields in combustion twenty-two thousand heat-units, or exactly double the heat produced in the combustion of a pound of ordinary coal. This extra heating power is due partly to the freedom of the gas from earthy constituents, but chiefly to the heat imparted to it in effecting its distillation. Recent experiments with gas-burners have shown that in this direction also there is much room for improvement.

The amount of light given out by a gas-flame depends upon the