This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
By J. C. HOADLEY.
The following description of the apparatus used for the determination of high temperatures, up nearly to the melting point of platinum, is offered in answer to several inquiries on the subject:
The object to be attained is a convenient and reasonably accurate application of the method of mixtures to the determination of temperatures above the range of mercurial thermometers, say 500° F., up to any point not above the melting point of the most refractory metal available for the purpose, platinum.
A first requisite is a cup or vessel of convenient form, capable of holding a suitable quantity of water, say about two pounds avoirdupois. Berthelot decidedly prefers a simple can of platinum, very thin, with a light cover of the same metal, to be fastened on by a bayonet hitch. For strictly laboratory work this may be the best form; but for the hasty manipulation and rough usage of practical boiler testing something more robust, but, if possible, equally sensitive, is required. The vessel I have used is represented in section in the accompanying cut, Fig. 1.
The inner cell, or true containing vessel, is 4.25 inches in diameter; and of the same height on the side, with a bottom in the form of a spherical segment, of 4.25 inches radius. It is formed of sheet brass 0.01 inch thick, nickel-plated and polished outside and inside. The outer case is 8 inches diameter and 8.5 inches deep, of 16-ounce copper, nickel-plated and polished inside, but plain outside. There are two handles on opposite sides, for convenience of rapid manipulation. The top, of the same copper as the sides and bottom, is depressed conically. like a hopper, and wired at its outer edge, forming a lip all around for pouring out of. The central cell is connected with the outer case only by three rings of hard rubber (vulcanite), each 0.25 inch thick, the middle ring completely insulating the cell from its continuation upward, and from the outer case. A narrow flange is turned outward at the upper edge of the cell, and a similar flange is also turned outward at the lower edge of the cylindrical continuation of the walls of the cell upward. Between these two flanges, the middle ring of hard rubber is interposed, and the two parts, the cell and its upward continuation, are clamped together by the upper and lower rings of hard rubber, which embrace the flanges and are held together by screws. The joints between the flanges and the middle ring of hard rubber, which might otherwise leak a little, are made tight with asphaltum varnish.
Fig 1 shows two partitions, dividing the space between the cell and the case into three compartments, and a concave false bottom. The cover is also seen to be divided into three compartments, by two partitions, and each compartment of the vessel and of its cover is provided with a small tube for inserting a thermometer. This construction was adopted in the first instruments made, for the purpose of observing the rate of heat transmission through the successive compartments, but these parts are without importance with respect to the practical use of the instrument, and may as well be omitted, as they considerably increase the cost, being nickel-plated and polished on both sides. The top and bottom plates of the cover are of 0.01 inch brass, nickel-plated and polished on both sides, both convex outward, the bottom plate but slightly, the top plate to 4.25 inches radius. A ring of hard rubber connects, yet separates and insulates these plates, and they are bound together with the ring into a firm structure by a tube of hard rubber, having a shoulder and knob at the top, and at the lower end a screw-thread engaging with a thin nut soldered to the upper side of the bottom plate. When the cover is in place, its lower plate is even with the top of the cell; and the contained water, which nearly fills the cell, is surrounded by polished, nickel-plated, brass plates 0.01 inch thick, insulated trom other metal by interposed hard rubber. The spaces between the cell and case (a single space if the partitions are omitted), the space above the hard rubber rings, and the space or spaces in the cover are all filled with eider-down, which costs $1.00 per ounce avoirdupois, but a few ounces are sufficient. Soft, fine shavings, or turnings of hard rubber, are said to be excellent as a substitute for eider-down. Heat cannot be confined by any known method. Its transmission can be in some degree retarded, and in a greater degree, perhaps, regulated. Some heat will be promptly absorbed by the sides, bottom, and cover of the cell, and by the agitator; but this does no harm, as its quantity can be accurately ascertained and allowed for. Some will be gradually transmitted to the eider-down, filling the spaces, and through this to the outer casing; but this can be reduced to a minimum by rapid and skillful manipulation, and its quantity, under normal conditions, can be ascertained approximately, so as not to introduce large errors. But varying external influences, such as currents of air, caused by opening doors, or by persons passing along near the apparatus during the progress of an experiment, which would introduce disturbing irregularities, can best be guarded against by such spaces as I have described, filled with the poorest heat-conductor and the lightest solid substance attainable. Air, although a poor heat-conductor, and extremely light, is diathermous, and offers no obstruction to the escape of radiant heat.
The agitator is an important part of the apparatus. Its object, in this instrument, is twofold. First, it serves to produce a uniform temperature throughout the body of water in the instrument; and secondly, it answers as a support to the heat-carrier of platinum or other metal, often intensely hot, which would injure or destroy the delicate metal of the bottom if allowed to fall on it. For this second purpose, no spiral revolving agitator, such as that commended by Berthelot, would suffice. The best form is such as I have shown in Fig. 1. A concave disk of sheet-brass, made to conform to the shape of the bottom of the cell, with a narrow rim turned up all around, of about 0.02 inch thickness, is liberally perforated with holes to lighten it, and to give free passage to water. The concave form causes the streams of water, produced by slightly raising and lowering the agitator, to take a radial direction downward or upward, so as to cross each other and promote rapid mixing. By a slight modification small vanes might be turned outward from the surface of the metal, which would produce mixing currents if the agitator were given a slight reciprocatory revolving motion, thus avoiding the alternate withdrawal and re-immersion of any part of the stem so strongly deprecated by Berthelot; but for several reasons I think an up and down motion of the agitator desirable in this instrument. The platinum heat carrier, sometimes at a temperature of 2,500° to 2,800° F., is thereby brought into more rapid and forcible contact with the water, steam or water in the spherical condition is washed away from its surface, and by cooling it more rapidly, the duration of the observation is lessened, and errors due to transmission of heat through the walls of the instrument are diminished. The upper part of the agitator stem is of hard rubber, and the brass portion, which terminates at the under side of the cover when the agitator is in its lowest position, suspended by the shoulder at the upper end, need never be lifted for the purpose of mixing out of the hard rubber tube at the cover, so that loss of heat from this cause must be very slight. The brass tube is very freely perforated with holes to admit water, streaming radially through the holes in the agitator, to contact with the thermometer. The hole in the stem at the top is flared, to receive a cork, through which the thermometer is to be passed. The bulb of the thermometer should be elongated, and very slightly smaller in diameter than the stem. After passing it through the cork, a very slight band--a mere thread--of elastic rubber should be put around the bulb, near its lower end, or a thin, narrow shaving of cork may be wound around and tied on, to keep it from contact with the brass tube, for safety; and a little tuft of wool, curled hair, or hard rubber shavings should be put in the bottom of the brass tube to avoid accidents. For the same purpose, a light, but sufficient fender of brass wire, say 0.03 inch diameter, might be judiciously placed around the brass tube at a little distance, to protect it and the thermometer inside of it from shocks from the platinum ball when hastily thrown in, as it must always be. I have had delicate and costly thermometers broken for want of such a fender. Thermometers cannot be too nice for this work. For accurate work at moderate temperatures, they should be about 14 inches long, having a "safe" bulb at the upper end, with a range of 20° F.--32° to 52°--in a length of 10 inches, giving half an inch to a degree F., and carefully graduated to tenths of a degree, so that they can be read to hundredths, corresponding to single degrees of the heat-carrier in the normal use of the instrument.
For the determination of the highest temperatures, up closely to 2,900° F., it will be convenient to have thermometers of greater range, say 32° to 82° F., 50° in a length of 12.5 inches, or a quarter of an inch to a degree F., also graduated to tenths, or at the least, to fifths of a degree. Such thermometers will be about 17 inches long.
It is very satisfactory to have two instruments and a good outfit of thermometers and heat-carriers, in order to take duplicate observations for mutual verification and detection of errors.