"The results of this chemical investigation show that the chief advantages of this system of putrefaction are:

"First. - The active agent, hydrated ferrous oxide, is prepared within the sewage itself as a flocculent precipitate. (It is scarcely necessary to add that the inorganic salts in solution are not increased, as in the case where chemicals in solution are added to the sewage.) Not only does it act as a mechanical precipitant, but it possesses the property of combining chemically with some of the soluble organic matter and carrying it down in an insoluble form.

"Second. - Hydrated ferrous oxide is a deodorizer.

"Third. - By this process the soluble organic matter is reduced to a condition favorable to the further and complete purification by natural agencies.

"Fourth. - The effluent is not liable to secondary putrefaction."

Mr. Alfred E. Fletcher also investigated the process subsequently, and reports as follows:

"The treatment causes a reduction in the oxidizable matter in the sewage, varying from 60 to 80 per cent. The practical result of the process is a very rapid and complete clarification of the sewage, which enables the sludge to separate freely.

"It was noticed that while the raw sewage filters very slowly, so that 500 c.c. required 96 hours to pass through a paper filter, the electrically treated sewage settled well and filtered rapidly.

"Samples of the raw sewage, having but little smell when fresh, stank strongly on the third day. The treated samples, however, had no smell originally, and remain sweet, without putrefactive change.

"In producing this result two agencies are at work, there is the action of electrolysis and the formation of a hydrated oxide of iron. It is not possible, perhaps, to define the exact action, but as the formation of an iron oxide is part of it, it seemed desirable to ascertain whether the simple addition of a salt of iron with lime sufficient to neutralize the acid of the salt would produce results similar to those attained by Webster's process.

"In order to make these experiments, samples of fresh raw sewage were taken at Crossness at intervals of one hour during the day. As much as 10 grains of different salts of iron were added per gallon, plus 15.7 grains of lime in some cases and 125 grains of lime in another, and the treated sewage was allowed to settle twenty-four hours; the results obtained were not nearly as good as the electrical method."

During the present year a very searching investigation of the merits of various processes of sewage treatment has been made by the corporation of Salford; among others of my electrical process. As the matter is at present under discussion by the council, I am not in a position to give extracts from the reports of the engineers and chemists under whose supervision and control the work was done, but I may go so far as to say that the results of my system of electrical treatment have proved its efficiency and applicability to sewages of even such a foul nature as that of Salford and Pendleton. The system was controlled continuously for the corporation by Mr. A. Jacob, B.A., C.E., the borough engineer; Mr. J. Carter Bell, F.I.C., etc., county analyst; Messrs John Newton & Sons, engineers, Manchester; Mr. Giles, of Messrs. Mather & Pratt, electrical engineers, Manchester; Dr. Charles A. Burghardt, lecturer in mineralogy at Owens College.

I would also refer you to a paper recently read before the Manchester Section of this Society by Mr Carter Bell, the borough analyst for Salford, in whose remarks Dr. Burghardt, an independent authority, permits me to add that he concurs. He cannot give details until his report has gone in, which will be very shortly.

Mr. Carter Bell's report has gone in, and although he is precluded also from giving full details, he has kindly put at my disposal samples sealed by him of the effluents produced by the electrical treatment, which I now submit, together with the analyses in the table.

The samples are taken at random.

Whether the process will or will not be adopted by the Salford authorities I am of course unable to say, but I think I may safely say that the electrical process has now absolutely proved its case in regard to the solution of the sewage problem. It is simple, efficient and, I am sure, more economical than any other known process where duration is taken into account.

In regard to the Salford trials it may be interesting to give the following particulars:



| Parts in 100,000.


| | | |

| May 15. | June 7. | June 30. | July 25.


|Not filtered.| | |

Total solids. | 109 | 125 | 141 | 132

Loss on ignition. | 33 | 21 | 29 | 23

Chlorine. | 32 | 44 | 42 | 43

Oxygen required | | | |

for 15 minutes. | 2.56 | 0.76 | 0.27 | 0.79

Oxygen required | | | |

for three hours. | 4.27 | 0.79 | 0.50 | 1.00

Free ammonia. | 2.20 | 0.88 | 0.50 | 0.92

Albuminoid am- | | | |

monia. | 0.32 | 0.17 | 0.092 | 0.19


The electrical shoot was built in brick and contained 28 cells arranged in series.

Each cell contained 13 cast iron plates 4 in. × 2 ft. 8 in. × ½ in. thick connected in parallel.

The available electrode surface in each cell was 256 sq. ft.

The ampere hour treatment required for Salford was found to be about 0.37 ampere hours per gallon, and the I.H.P. per million gallons based on these figures would be 37.


In estimating for the plant necessary for treating the whole of the Salford sewage, a margin was allowed on above figures. The A.H.T. was taken at 0.4 and the I.H.P. per million at 39 to 39.5.

Mr. Octavius March, electrical engineer, who has followed the process from the commencement, and who superintended the electrical details both at Crossness and Salford, will give you on the blackboard a rough sketch of the above trial plant.

The Salford tanks are admirably adapted to the application of the electrical or in fact any process of precipitation. They are 12 in number, and it is proposed to take two end tanks for the electrical channels, in which the iron electrodes would be placed.

The total I.H.P. required for treating the whole of the Salford and Pendleton sewage, taken at 10,000,000 gallons per 24 hours, is calculated at 400 I.H.P., based on the actual work done during the trial. The electrical plant would consist of four engines and dynamos, any three of which could do the whole work, and three boilers, each of 200 I.H.P.

The total cost of plant, including alterations, is estimated at £16,000, to which must be added the cost of about 5,000 tons of iron plates - ordinary cast iron - at say £4 per ton. These plates would last for several years.

If filtration were required, there would be an extra expenditure for this, but it will be remarked that as the treated sewage is practically purified when it leaves the electrical channels, these filters would be only required for complete clarification, which for most places would not be a necessity.

The filtering material used could be gradually prepared from the sludge obtained after electrical treatment, unless it could be more profitably sold as a manure, and I am not a believer in the value of sewage sludge in large quantities. This sludge, a waste product, is converted into magnetic oxide of iron, of which I have here two small samples. This magnetic oxide is a good filtering material, but, like every other filtering material, it would of course require renewal. There would, however, always be a supply of the waste product - sewage sludge - on the spot, and the spent magnetic oxide recarbonized could be used indefinitely.

The annual cost for dealing with the Salford sewage is estimated at in round figures £2,500 for coal, labor, maintenance of engines, boilers and dynamos. To this must be added the consumption of iron and its replacement, which would have to be written off capital expenditure.

If a colorless effluent were required, absolutely free from suspended matter, the additional cost is estimated at from £1,200 to £1,500.


Recently read before the Chemical Society, London. From the Journal of the Society.