The foregoing are some of the defects which the author applied himself to remove, and he now desires to draw attention to the way in which the object has been attained by the substitution of a revolving furnace for the massive cement kilns now in general use, and by the application of gaseous products to effect calcination, in the place of coke or other solid fuel. The revolving furnace consists of a cylindrical casing of steel or boiler plate supported upon steel rollers (and rotated by means of a worm and wheel, driven by a pulley upon the shaft carrying the worm), lined with good refractory fire brick, so arranged that certain courses are set so as to form three or more radial projecting fins or ledges. The cylindrical casing is provided with two circular rails or pathways, turned perfectly true, to revolve upon the steel rollers, mounted on suitable brickwork, with regenerative flues, by passing through which the gas and air severally become heated, before they meet in the combustion chamber, at the mouth of the revolving furnace.

The gas may be supplied from slack coal or other hydrocarbon burnt in any suitable gas producer (such, for instance, as those for which patents have been obtained by Messrs. Brook & Wilson, of Middlesbrough, or by Mr. Thwaite, of Liverpool), which producer may be placed in any convenient situation.

The cement mixture or slurry, instead of being burnt in lumps, is passed between rollers or any suitable mill, when, it readily falls into coarse dry powder, which powder is thence conveyed by an elevator and fed into the revolving furnace by means of a hopper and pipe, which, being set at an angle with the horizon, as it turns gradually conveys the cement material in a tortuous path toward the lower and hotter end, where it is discharged properly calcined. The material having been fed into the upper end of the cylinder falls through the flame to the lower side of it; the cylinder being in motion lifts it on its advancing side, where it rests against one of its projecting fins or ledges until it has reached such an angle that it shoots off in a shower through the flame and falls once more on the lower side. This again causes it to travel in a similar path, and every rotation of the cylinder produces a like effect, so that by the time it arrives at the lower and hotter end it has pursued a roughly helical path, during which it has been constantly lifted and shot through the flame, occupying about half an hour in its transit.

To some who have been accustomed to the more tedious process of kiln burning, the time thus occupied may appear insufficient to effect the combinations necessary to produce the required result; but it will be seen that the conditions here attained are, in fact, those best suited to carry out effectively the chemical changes necessary for the production of cement. The raw material being in powder offers every facility for the speedy liberation of water and carbonic acid, the operation being greatly hastened by the velocity of the furnace gases through which the particles pass. That such is practically the case is shown by the following analysis of cement so burnt in the revolving furnace or cylinder:

Per cent.
Carbonic acid, anhydrous0.40
Sulphuric acid, anhydrous0.26
Silica soluble24.68
Silica insoluble0.60
Alumina and oxide of iron10.56
Magnesia, water, and alkalies2.02
- - -

Again, fineness of the particles results in their being speedily heated to a uniform temperature, so that they do not serve as nuclei for the condensation of the moisture existing in the furnace gas. The calcined material, on reaching the lower end of the furnace, is discharged on to the floor or on to a suitable "conveyer," and removed to a convenient locality for cooling and subsequent grinding or finishing. It, however, is not in the condition of hard, heavy clinkers, such as are produced in the ordinary cement kiln, which require special machinery for breaking up into smaller pieces before being admitted between the millstones for the final process of grinding; nor does it consist of an overburnt exterior and an underburnt core or center portion; but it issues from the cylindrical furnace in a condition resembling in appearance coarse gunpowder, with occasional agglutinations of small friable particles readily reduced to fine powder in an ordinary mill, requiring but small power to work, and producing but little wear and tear upon the millstones. The operation is continuous.

The revolver or furnace, once started, works on night and day, receiving the adjusted quantity of powdered material at the upper or feed end, and delivering its equivalent in properly burnt cement at the opposite end, thus effecting a great saving of time, and preventing the enormous waste of heat and serious injury to the brickwork, etc., incidental to the cooling down, withdrawing the charge, and reloading the ordinary kiln.

Cement, when taken from the furnace, weighed 110 lb. per bushel. Cement, when ground, leaving 10 percent. on sieve with 2,500 holes to the inch, weighed 121 lb. per bushel, and when cold 118 lb. per bushel. When made into briquettes, the tensile breaking strain upon the square inch:

At4 dayswas410lb. per square inch.
At6 days"610"
At14 days"810"
At49 days"900"
At76 days"1,040"

A cylindrical furnace, such as the author has described, is capable of turning out at least 20 tons of good cement per day of twenty-four hours, with a consumption of about 3 tons of slack coal. It will be readily understood that these furnaces can be worked more economically in pairs than singly, as they can be so arranged that one producer may furnish a sufficient quantity of gas for the supply of two cylinders, and the same labor will suffice; but in order to provide for possible contingencies the author advises that a spare gas producer and an extra furnace should be in readiness, so that by a simple arrangement of valves, etc., two cylinders may always be in operation, while from any cause one may be undergoing temporary repairs, and by this means any diminution in the output may be avoided.

The author considers it unnecessary here to discuss either the advantages or the economy of fuel effected by the employment of gas producers for such a purpose. These have been abundantly proved in steel and glass making industries, where a saving of from 50 to 70 per cent. of the fuel formerly employed has been made. Their cost is small, they occupy little room, they can be placed at any reasonable distance from the place where the gas is to be burnt; any laborer can shovel the slack into them, and they do not require constant skilled supervision. It is claimed by the author of this paper that the following are among the many advantages derivable from the adoption of this method of manufacturing Portland cement, as compared with the old system:

(1) Economy of space - the furnaces, with their appurtenances, requiring only about one-fourth the space of what would be occupied by the ordinary kilns for producing the same quantity of finished cement.

(2) Continuous working, and consequent economy of fuel lost by cooling and subsequent reheating of the kiln walls.

(3) Economy of repairs, which are of a simple and comparatively inexpensive character, and of much less frequent occurrence, as the continuous heat avoids the racking occasioned by the alternate heating and cooling.

(4) Economy in first cost.

(5) Economy in grinding, a friable granular substance being produced instead of a hard clinker, whereby crushers are quite abolished, and the wear and tear of millstones greatly reduced.

(6) Economy of labor, the conveyance to and removal from, the revolving furnace being conducted automatically by mechanical elevators and conveyers.

(7) Improved quality of the cement, from non-mixture with fuel, ash, or other impurities, and no overburning or underburning of the material.

(8) Thorough control, from the facility of increasing or diminishing the flow of crushed slurry and of regulating the heat in the furnace as desirable.

(9) Absence of smoke and deleterious gases.

It is well known that in some localities the materials from which Portland cement is made are of such a powdery character that they have to be combined or moulded into balls or bricks previous to calcination in the ordinary way, thus entailing expense which would be entirely obviated by the adoption of the patent revolving furnace, as has been proved by the author in producing excellent cement with a mixture of slag sand from the blast furnaces of the Cleveland iron district, with a proper proportion of chalk or limestone, which, in consequence of the friable nature of the compound, he was unable to burn in the ordinary cement kiln, but which, when burnt in the revolving furnace, gave the most satisfactory results. The cement so made possessed extraordinary strength and hardness, and it has been a matter of surprise that iron masters and others have not adopted such a means of converting a waste material - which at the present time entails upon its producers constant heavy outlay for its removal - into a remunerative branch of industry by the expenditure of a comparatively small amount of capital. The demand for Portland cement has increased and is still increasing at a rapid ratio.

It is being manufactured upon a gigantic scale.

Great interests are involved; large sums of money are being expended in the erection and maintenance of expensive plant for its production; and the author submits that the development of any method which will improve the quality and at the same time reduce the cost of manufacture of this valuable material will tend to increase the prosperity of one of our great national industries, and stimulate commercial enterprise. Works are in progress for manufacturing cement by this improved process, and the author trusts the time is not far distant when the unsightly structures which now disfigure the banks of some of our rivers will be abolished - the present cement kilns, like the windmills once such a common feature of our country, being regarded as curiosities of the past, and cement manufacturers cease to be complained of as causing nuisances to their neighbors.


A paper recently read before the British Association.