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On motion of Mr. CHARLES H. Fish, the report was accepted and the committee discharged.
The President appointed as tellers to collect and count the ballots for officers Mr. W. W. Crosby and Mr. JOSEPH P. BATTLES.
The committee having attended to the discharge of their duties and the ballot being declared closed, the reading of papers was resumed.
The PRESIDENT. The next paper is on “ What a Manufacturer Should Know About Coal,” by Mr. E. G. BAILEY, Chief of the Coal Department of the ARTHUR D. LITTLE Laboratory, Boston.
SOME THINGS A MANUFACTURER SHOULD KNOW
E. G. BAILEY, Arthur D. Little Laboratory, Boston, Mass.
The majority of manufacturers are dependent upon the combustion of coal for the operation of their mill. The man who is responsible for the continuous and economic operation of the plant should know: (a) Where he can always get coal when he needs it. (6) Where he can get coal of such character and quality that his plant will not be crippled for lack of steam. (c) What coal is the most economical for him to burn. (d) How to convert a large percentage of the heat energy of the coal into useful work.
(a) It is an exceptional circumstance when a manufacturer does not have many kinds of coal offered him at competitive prices.
But at times of strikes or delays in transportation he is sometimes compelled to seek coal and pay whatever price is asked. In placing a contract this point should be kept in mind and whenever the difference in price is not too great, preference should be given to the company that is most able to keep you supplied with coal at such exceptional times. If you expect fair treatment from the coal company you must treat it fairly by living up to your part of the contract whether the price falls or rises during the continuance of the contract.
When plants are at any great distance from the mines it becomes necessary to store a considerable quantity of coal. This involves additional expense due to the extra handling, value of storage space, and loss of coal both mechanically and chemically. The loss due to oxidation or weathering of coal not only reduces the calorific value of the coal but as the temperature of the pile rises, the oxidation becomes more rapid until the ignition temperature is reached and much additional labor and expense is necessary to prevent the burning of the coal and often the destruction of other property. There are many theories as to the cause of spontaneous combustion in coal piles and several remedies have been tried with more or less success. Storing coal under water seems to be the only method of absolute prevention. Sulphur is generally referred to as the cause of spontaneous combustion, but each per cent. of sulphur if burned completely and no heat was radiated from the pile during the slow combustion, would raise the temperature of the pile only 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Many cases of spontaneous combustion occur in piles of coal that contain less than one per cent. of sulphur, and analyses of coal from heated piles show that only a small percentage of the sulphur has been oxidized. Some heat must be radiated from the pile and a temperature considerably above 200 degrees Fahrenheit, is necessarily reached. Should the sulphur exist in the form of pyrites and both the iron and sulphur oxidize, the heat generated would not be great enough to cause the temperature of the pile to rise as high as 550 to 600 degrees, which temperatures have been reached before the coal really ignited. Excessive moisture may play some part in causing spontaneous combustion, but exceptions to this are many. The height to which the coal is piled is generally considered a very important factor, but frequently the hottest part of a pile twenty feet deep is within three feet of the surface. In one case a pile of coal ten feet deep took fire about six feet below the surface and in another part of the same pile the coal was thirty-five feet deep with no signs whatever of heating. Some coals store better than others, the reason for which seems to depend upon its physical structure rather than the chemical composition.
It seems that the rate of circulation of air through a coal pile has more to do with this question than any other condition outside of the character of the coal. The heating is mostly very irregular throughout a pile, as there are usually spots where the temperature is much higher than in the surrounding space. For this reason the usual method of taking temperature measurements in a pile by letting a thermometer down a set of pipes scattered throughout the pile is very unsatisfactory as the hottest spot that will soon cause trouble may be missed entirely. The question, what is the safe limit for the temperature of a coal pile, is frequently asked, and it is rather difficult to answer for a coal pile may heat up to a pretty high degree, then cool down without being moved. But if there is enough heat generated to raise the temperature of the coal pile to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the moisure being evaporated at or before this temperature is reached leaves only the dry coal, which has a comparatively low specific heat, to be heated. The heating takes place much faster and the rate of oxidation also increases with the rise in temperature. The carbon in the coal evidently oxidizes to a considerable extent as large percentages of carbon dioxide have been found in coal piles at comparatively low temperatures.
(6) Many plants are so limited in boiler capacity, have such poor draft, or some kind of grate or stoker that it is possible for their boiler room force to keep steam with only certain kinds of coal. While this is not an ideal state of affairs it is a condition that exists in a large percentage of the power plants in this country and unless a man knows what coal will develop the required boiler horse power in his plant he may have the costly experience of shutting down a part or all of his mill. There is a great deal of difference in the rate of combustion of different coals.. The percentage of volatile matter, coking properties, amount and nature of ash are the principal factors upon which depends this characteristic in various coals. It is not always the better or higher priced coals that give the best satisfaction under such conditions, for a cheaper coal might give more satisfactory results than are being obtained with the highest priced coal on the market, but the risk of experimenting has seemed too great for the management to consider stepping out of the well beaten path.
(c) All minerals or raw material are bought because they contain some one ingredient or property that may by a certain treatment or operation be enhanced in value or utilized by the manufacturer in such a way as to cause him to make a profit from the principal product of his factory. It is seldom that any mineral or raw material does not contain some impurity or inert matter that may involve additional expense for its riddance or by a certain process may be converted into a by-product and thus become a secondary source of profit. Coal varies more in character and quality than any other mineral produced. In character it is found in all successive stages between lignite and anthracite. Each different kind is more applicable for one purpose than another. In selecting a coal for making illuminating gas the yield of gas measured in “candle feet” is of primary importance, while the coke and tar are by-products, and sulphur is the impurity that causes additional expense. For making coke the purity, structure and yield of coke are the properties to be considered, and the gas, tar and ammonia may be utilized as by-products. In buying steam coal the amount of heat that may be developed from it is the measure of its value to you. There is no by-product that may be utilized, except that in some cases the sale of ashes might be considered in this connection, but their removal is generally an additional expense. Two coals at the same price and containing the same number of heat units may not be equally desirable. The difference in volatile matter might cause the lower to prove more satisfactory under certain conditions of smoke restriction, while the higher volatile coal would probably be more applicable in a plant with fluctuating load. The amount and nature of ash in regard to the formation of clinker often needs to be considered.
The liability of spontaneous combustion of one coal more than another may make it advisable to pay several cents per ton more for one coal containing no more heat units than the other.
The following table shows the analyses and results of evaporative tests of some of the better coals together with their price