Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/223

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

temperature to which the particles of solid carbon in the flame are raised, and Dr. Tyndall has shown that, of the radiant energy set up in such a flame, only the 125 part is luminous; the hot products of combustion carry off at least four times as much energy as is radiated, so that not more than one hundredth part of the heat evolved in combustion is converted into light. This proportion could be improved, however, by increasing the temperature of combustion, which may be effected either by intensified air-currents or by regenerative action. Supposing that the heat of the products of combustion could be communicated to metallic surfaces, and be transferred by conduction or otherwise to the atmospheric air supporting combustion in the flame, we should be able to increase the temperature accumulatively to any point within the limit of dissociation; this limit may be fixed at about 2,300° C., and can not be very much below that of the electric arc. At such a temperature the proportion of luminous rays to the total heat produced in combustion would be more than doubled, and the brilliancy of the light would at the same time be greatly increased. Thus improved, gas-lighting may continue its rivalry with electric lighting both as regards economy and brilliancy, and such rivalry must necessarily result in great public advantage.

In the domestic grate radiant energy of inferior intensity is required, and I for one do not agree with those who would like to see the open fire-place of this country superseded by the Continental stove. The advantages usually claimed for the open fire-place are, that it is cheerful, "pokable," and conducive to ventilation; but to these may be added another of even greater importance, viz., that the radiant heat which it emits passes through the transparent air without warming it, and imparts heat only to the solid walls, floor, and furniture of the room, which are thus constituted the heating surfaces of the comparatively cool air of the apartments in contact with them. In the case of stoves, the heated air of the room causes deposit of moisture upon the walls in heating them, and gives rise to mildew and germs injurious to health. It is, I think, owing to this circumstance that upon entering an apartment one can immediately perceive whether or not it is heated by an open fire-place; nor is the unpleasant sensation due to stove-heating completely removed by mechanical ventilation; there is, moreover, no good reason why an open fire-place should not be made as economical and smokeless as a stove or hot-water apparatus.


In the production of mechanical effect from heat, gaseous fuel also presents most striking advantages, as will appear from the following consideration. When we have to deal with the question of converting mechanical into electrical effect, or vice versa, by means of the dynamo-electrical machine, we have only to consider what are the equivalent values of the two forms of energy, and what precautions are necessary to avoid losses by the electrical resistance of conductors and by fric-