This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
The consumption of fuel in an enameling factory is the most serious
item of the expenditure. Ill-constructed or badly proportioned stoves may represent any loss of coal from a quarter to one ton per day, and as great and uniform temperatures must be maintained, fuel of low quality and price is not desirable. In the melting stoves either arranged as tank or crucible furnaces, the character of the coal must not be neglected, as light dust, iron oxide, or injurious gases will enter into the crucibles through any opening, especially if the draught is not very great. Almost any of the various kinds of fuel may be used, provided that the system of combustion is specially arranged for in the construction of the furnaces. Charcoal is one of the best fuels available, its calorific value being so great; but its cost is in some places almost prohibitive. Wood burns too quickly, and is therefore expensive, and necessitates incessant firing.
For practical purposes we are thus often left to a selection of some type of coal. A coal with comparatively little heating power at a cheap price will be found more expensive in the end than one costing more, but capable of more rapid combustion and possessing more heat yielding gases. Cheap and hard coals give the fireman an amount of labor which is excessive. The proper maintenance of the temperature of the stove is almost impossible. Anthracite is excellent in every way, as it consists of nearly pure carbon, giving off a high degree of heat without smoke. Its use, of course, necessitates the use of a blower, but to this there can be no objection. Any coal which will burn freely and clean, giving off no excessive smoke, and capable of almost complete combustion, will give satisfaction in enameling; but it must not be forgotten that the consumption of fuel is so large that both price and quality must be carefully considered. Experimental tests must be made from time to time. A cheap, common coal will never give good results, and a good expensive coal will make the cost of manufacture so great that the prices of the enameled articles will render them unsalable. Any ordinary small factory will use from 2 to 4 tons per day of coal, and it will thus be seen that the financial success of a concern lies to a very great extent at the mouth of the furnace. Coke is a good medium for obtaining the necessary heat required in enameling if it can be got at a reasonable price. With a good draught a uniform temperature can be easily kept up, and the use of this by-product is, therefore, to be recommended.
With good coal and a furnace constructed to utilize the heat given off to the fullest extent, there may still be unnecessary waste. The arrangement of the bars should only be made by those who fully understand the character of the coal and the objects in view. The fireman in charge should be thoroughly experienced and reliable, as much waste is frequently traced to imperfect feeding of the fuel.
Each charge of articles should be as large as possible, as fusing will take place equally as well on many articles as on few. The charges should follow one another as rapidly as can be conveniently carried out; and where this is not done there is a lack of organization which should be immediately remedied.