By Prof. VIVIAN B LEWES.

IV

Continued From Supplement, No. 793, Page 12669

Mr. Frank Livesey, in the concluding sentence of a paper read before the Southern District Association of Gas Managers and Engineers during the past month, on "A Ready Means of Enriching Coal Gas," speaking of enrichment by gasolene by the Maxim-Clarke process, said "it should, in many cases, take the place of cannel, to be replaced in its turn, probably, by a water gas carbureted to 20 or 25 candle power." And now, having fully reviewed the methods either in use or proposed for the enrichment of gas, we will pass on to this, the probable cannel of the future.

Discovered by Fontana, in 1780, and first worked by Ibbetson, in England, in 1824, water gas has added a voluminous chapter to the patent records of England, France, and America, no less than sixty patents being taken out between 1824 and 1858, in which the action of steam on incandescent carbon was the basis for the production of an inflammable gas.

Up to the latter date the attempts to make and utilize water gas all met with failure; but about this time the subject began to be taken up in America, and the principle of the regenerator, enunciated by Siemens in 1856, having been pressed into service in the water-gas generator under the name of fixing chambers or superheaters, we find water gas gradually approaching the successful development to which it has attained in the United States during the last ten years. Having now, by the aid of American skill, been brought into practical form, it is once more attempting to gain a foothold in Western Europe - the land of its birth.

When carbon is acted upon at high temperatures by steam, the first action which takes place is the decomposition of the water vapor, the hydrogen being liberated, while the oxygen unites with the carbon to form carbon dioxide:

Carbon. Water.
C + 2HO = CO + 4H

And the carbon dioxide so produced interacts with more red-hot carbon, forming the lower oxide - carbon monoxide:

CO + C = 2CO

So that the completed reaction may be looked upon as yielding a mixture of equal volumes of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, both of them inflammable but non-luminous flames. This decomposition, however, is rarely completed, and a certain proportion of carbon dioxide is invariably to be found in the water gas, which, in practice, generally consists of a mixture of about this composition:

WATER GAS.
Hydrogen48.31
Carbon monoxide35.93
Carbon dioxide4.25
Nitrogen8.75
Methane1.05
Sulphureted hydrogen 1.20
Oxygen0.51
- - -
100.00

The above is an analysis of water gas made from ordinary gas coke in a Van Steenbergh generator.

The ratio of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide present entirely depends upon the temperature of the generator, and the kind of carbonaceous matter employed. With a hard, dense anthracite coal, for instance, it is quite possible to attain a temperature at which there is practically no carbon dioxide produced, while with an ordinary form of generator and a loose fuel like coke, a large proportion of carbon dioxide is generally to be found.

The sulphureted hydrogen in the analysis quoted is, of course, due to the high amount of sulphur to be found in the gas coke, and is practically absent from water gas made with anthracite, while the nitrogen is due to the method of manufacture, the coke being, in the first instance, raised to incandescence by an air blast, which leaves the generator and pipes full of a mixture of nitrogen and carbon monoxide (producer gas), which is carried over by the first portions of water gas into the holder. The water gas so made has no photometric value, its constituents being perfectly non-luminous, and attempts to use it as an illuminant have all taken the form of incandescent burners, in which thin mantles or combs of highly refractory metallic oxides have been heated to incandescence. In carbureted water gas this gas is only used as the carrier of illuminating hydrocarbon gases, made by decomposing various grades of hydrocarbon oils into permanent gases by heat.

Many forms of generator have been used in the United States for the production of water gas, which, after or during manufacture, is mixed with the vapors and permanent gases obtained by cracking various grades of paraffin oil, and "fixing" them by subjecting them to a high temperature; and in considering the subject of enrichment of coal gas by carbureted water gas, I shall be forced, by the limited time at my disposal, to confine myself to the most successful of these processes, or those which are already undergoing trial in this country.

In considering these methods, we find they can be divided into two classes:

1. Continuous processes, in which the heat necessary to bring about the interaction of the carbon and steam is obtained by performing the operation in retorts externally heated in a furnace; and

2. Intermittent processes, in which carbon is first heated to incandescence by an air blast, and then, the air blast being cut off, superheated steam is blown in until the temperature is reduced to a point at which the carbon begins to fail in its action, when the air is again admitted to bring the fuel up to the required temperature, the process consisting of alternate formation of producer gas with rise of temperature, and of water gas with lowering of the temperature.

Of the first class of generator, none, as far as I know, have as yet been practically successful, the nearest approach to this system being the "Meeze," in which fire clay retorts in an ordinary setting are employed. In the center of each retort is a pipe leading nearly to the rear end of the retort, and containing baffle plates. Through this a jet of superheated steam and hydrocarbon vapor is injected, and the mixture passes the length of the inner tube, and then back through the retort itself - which is also fitted with baffle plates - to the front of the retort, whence the fixed gases escape by the stand pipe to the hydraulic main, and the rich gas thus formed is used either to enrich coal gas or is mixed with water gas made in a separate generator. In some forms the water gas is passed with the oil through the retort. In such a process, the complete breaking down of some of the heavy hydrocarbons takes place, and the superheated steam, acting on the carbon so liberated, forms water gas which bears the lower hydrocarbons formed with it; but inasmuch as oil is not an economical source of carbon for the production of water gas, this would probably make the cost of production higher than necessary.