Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/608

This page needs to be proofread.


592

��Popular Science Monthly

��are being exported. In case of war, for- tunately, our forests would be able to furnish the raw material for unlimited supplies of alcohol. The cellulose of the wood when treated with acids gives con- siderable quantities of glucose which can be readily fermented to alcohol. Experiments conducted by the Forest Service have shown that twenty-five gallons -of grain alcohol can be obtained from one ton of sawdust, and it is probable that this yield can be still further increased.

But wood has other military uses besides that of furnishing raw material for ex- plosives. Millions of gunstocks are made from American walnut, which is the best wood yet found for the purpose.

The Germans Brought Sawmills with Them Into France

With characteristic foresight the Germans brought portable sawmills with them into France, and have utilized their enemy's forests to supply their need for timber at the front, while reserving their own forests for home demand.

��The development of trench warfare, when vast armies of men dig them- selves in on fronts hundreds of miles long, calls for an amount of timber for trench walls, floors, and braces that it is difficult to estimate. Mil- lions of feet of lumber are re- quired also for temporary build- ings behind the fighting line and for housing non- combatants made homeless by the fortunes of war. Still more goes into bridges,

wharves, and the like. High explosives have made it possible for a retreating army to destroy stone and steel structures behind them in short order, and such structures the pursuing army must have the means of quickly rebuilding. Wood is, in most cases, the only material that will answer the purpose. It served the German army in good stead recently during the

��pursuit of the Russians through Poland. Turning from the materials needed for actual fighting to the no less important ones required for the proper care of the wounded, we find Germany, fully prepared for Eng- land's embargo, making a soft, absorbent surgical cotton from wood cellulose. Two factories in Sweden also are making this substitute. Slings are made from tough crepe paper, and splints from fiber boards.

"To Be Without Wood Is Almost as Bad as Being Without Bread"

Wood is also contributing to the personal comfort of the men at the front. Russian soldiers are wearing paper skirts made in Japan, where such clothing has been in use for many years. The chief raw material for the manufacture of paper is, of course, wood pulp. Paper clothing is warm and cheap, and special waterproofing processes are overcoming its tendency to tear when wet. It may be discarded when soiled — an advantage to the soldier from the stand- point of hygiene. The Germans and

Austrians, mainly

���A portable saw-mill brought by the Germans into France so that the enemy's forests could be utilized

��the poorer classes of the civilian population, use paper vests, socks, and handker- chiefs. Blankets and coats are pad- ded with cellulose wadding. So many paper arti- cles, in fact, are produced for the comfort of the people of Ger- many and Austria as to lead the socialist organ "Vorwaerts" to declare, "To be without wood is almost as bad as being without bread."

The demand for newspapers and periodicals oi all kinds in- creases enormously in a time of national crisis. The bulk of print papers is made from spruce and balsam* fir. Experiments ■ have shown , however , that satisfactory news- print paper can be made from some seven or eight other American woods, which places the United States in a position of prepared- ness as far as paper is concerned.

�� �