Moreover, according to Professor Riedler, the consumption of steam by the new Schneider engines will be only 5.3 kilos. per horse power and per hour as compared with some of the large engines requiring 9 kilos., and the Cockerill engines - using 8 kilos. per hour, not to speak of the older motors that are very extravagant in the use of steam. The St. Fargeau station is worked under a further disadvantage. The constantly increasing demand from subscribers taxes the resources of the station to their fullest extent, so that practically there is no reserve power.
In the new installation the work will be equally constant, but care will be taken always to have a sufficient reserve. Electric lighting will form a considerable part of the duty to be done from this station, and in all cases it is intended to work with accumulators, so that the resistance to be overcome by the engines, so far as this part of the duty is concerned, will be well known and uniform. The engineers of the Compressed Air Co., of Paris, have during the last five years acquired an experience which could only be attained at a high price and at the expense of a certain amount of failure; this period, it is claimed, is now passed, and in the new installation it is possible to put into practice all the valuable lessons learned at St. Fargeau, to say nothing of the more favorable natural conditions under which the extension is being started and the improvements in the compression of the air made by Mr. Popp and Professor Riedler, and to which we shall refer later.
Chiefly in consequence of the high value of the ground, vertical engines were adopted at the new station; the proximity to the river made the foundations somewhat costly, and the risk of occasional floods rendered it desirable to set the level of the engine bedplates 20 inches above the floor of the building; the foundations of the engines are continuous, but are quite independent of the building. There are three compressing cylinders in each set of engines, one being above each steam cylinder. Two of these are employed to compress the air to about 30 lb. per square inch, after which it passes into a receiver and is cooled; it is then admitted into the third or final compressing cylinder and raised to the working pressure at which it flows into the mains. In the illustrations, h, m, and b are the high, intermediate, and low pressure cylinders of one set of engines; as will be seen, each cylinder is on a separate frame connected by girders; directly above the cylinders are the two low and the one high pressure air cylinders, b¹, m¹, and h¹ respectively.
The former deliver the air compressed to the first stage into the receiver, T¹ (see Fig. 5), whence it passes into the third compression cylinder, and thence by a main into the cylinders, R R, which are in direct communication with the delivery mains; these mains terminate in the subway, T. The water for condensation is brought into the engine house by the channel, C, and the condenser pumps, a, draw direct from this supply; the discharge main back to the river is shown at A. The relative positions of the engine and boiler houses are indicated in Figs. 2 to 5, where F shows the end of one group of boilers; the air supply for the compressors is led from the central raised portion, S, of the roof.
Professor Riedler's first experiments in improving the efficiency of air compressors were made with one of the Cockerill compressors in use at the St. Fargeau Station, and considerable difficulty attended this work, because the machinery was necessarily kept almost in constant operation. These compressors were designed by MM. Dubois and Francois, of Seraing. Two of their leading features were the delivery of the compressed air at as low a temperature as possible, and with a relatively high piston speed of about 400 ft. a minute. The former object is attained by the injection of a very fine water spray at each end of the air cylinder, and its rapid removal with each stroke; the free as well as the compressed air flows through the same passages, one at each end of the cylinder; the inlet valves being placed at the side of these passages, and the outlet or compressed air valves at the top, the compressed air, entering a chamber above the cylinder, common to both valves, and passing thence to the reservoir. The compressed air valves, which are seven in. in diameter, are brought back sharply to their seats at each stroke, by a small piston operated by compressed air flowing through a by-pass from the chamber.
The illustrations published by us on page 686 of our forty-seventh volume show the construction of these compressors. The engravings on page 683 of the same volume illustrate the compressors used in a somewhat older part of the installation; they were made by M. Blanchod, of Vevey, and a passing reference may be made to them. The air is admitted through valves in the cylinder, and is forced out through spring-loaded valves; water is admitted into the cylinder to cool the air.
Fig. 7 indicates the modification made by Professor Riedler in one of the Cockerill compressors: a receiver, A, was placed under the two compressing cylinders, B and C. The first stage is completed in the large cylinder, B, the air being compressed to about 30 lb. per square inch; from this it is discharged into the receiver, A, through the pipe, B¹, where it meets with a spray injection that cools it to the temperature of the water. The final stage is then effected in the smaller cylinder, C, which, drawing the air from the receiver through the pipe, C¹, compresses it to about 90 lb. and delivers it through the pipe, d, to the mains. We hope shortly to publish drawings of this compressor in its final form; in its elementary stage Professor Riedler claims to have obtained some very remarkable results. He says that the waste spaces in his modification were much smaller than in the Cockerill compressor, while the efficiency of the apparatus was largely increased. The actual engine duty per horse power and per hour was raised, as a maximum, to 384 cubic feet of air at atmospheric pressure, and compressed to 90 lb. per square inch, a marked increase on the duty of the compressors in use at the St. Fargeau station.