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University of California.




Gartside Reports on Industry and Commerce. No. 7.

So7ne Electro-Chemical Centres

Sherratt eS: Hughes

Publishers to the Victoria University of Manchester

Manchester : 34 Cross Street

London : 60 Chandos Street W.C.

Some Electro-Chemical


To the Electors of the Gartside Scholarships


J. N. PRING, M.Sc.

Gartside Scholar




At the University Press





University of Manchester Publications
No. XLI.


The Gartside Reports are the reports made by the
Gartside Scholars at the University of Manchester. The
Gartside Scholarships were established in 1902 for a
limited period, by John Henry Gartside, Esq., of
Manchester. They are tenable for two years and about
three are awarded each year. They are open to males
of British nationality who at the date of the election
shall be over the age of eighteen years and under the age
of twenty-three years.

Every scholar must enter the University of Manchester
for one Session for a course of study approved by the
electors. The remainder of the time covered by the
Scholarship must be devoted to the examination of
subjects bearing upon Commerce or Industry in Germany
or Switzerland, or in the United States of America, or
partly in one of the above-mentioned countries and partly
in others, but the electors may on special grounds allow
part of this period of the tenure of the Scholarship to be
spent in study and travel in some other country or
countries. It is intended that each scholar shall select
some industry, or part of an industry, or some business,
for examination, and investigate this comparatively in
the United Kingdom and abroad. The first year's work
at the University of Manchester is designed to prepare
the student for this investigation, and it partly takes the
form of directed study, from publications and by direct
investigation, of English conditions with regard to the
industrial or commercial subjects upon which research
will be made abroad in the second year of the scholarship.
Finally, each scholar must present a report, which will
as a rule be published.

The value of a Scholarship is about ;^8o a year for the
time spent in England, ;^i5o a year for time spent on
the Continent of Europe, and about ,^250 a year for
time spent in America.


The following report is based principally on information
acquired during visits to several countries on the
Continent of Europe and to the United States and
Canada, including British Columbia, during the years
1907 and 1908.

Though the electro-chemical industry is developing
rapidly in many directions, the various works in this
field are yet comparatively few in number and are
located in widely scattered centres. For this reason, a
comprehensive survey of the subject is made rather
difficult. Moreover, the majority of electro-chemical
works are still in a more or less experimental state,
and the details of the processes are usually held in
strict secrecy so that admittance is, in many cases, very
difficult and often quite impossible to obtain by out-

The developments of this industry, however, are well
recorded in several important publications, the chief
journal of this kind being the "Electro-chemical and
Metallurgical Industry " (New York).

In the compiling of this report I wish to acknowledge
my indebtedness to Dr. R. S. Hutton for his kind
assistance throughout and for furnishing me with
valuable introductions in the United States to the
leading people of academic and industrial electro-
chemistry, who gave me much information and kindly
extended several opportunities for inspecting works.
In this connection, I have specially to thank Prof. J.W.
Richards, Prof. W. D. Bancroft, Prof. S. A. Tucker,
Mr. E. R. Taylor, Dr. E. F. Roeber, Dr. H. N. Potter,
Mr. T. A. Edison, Mr. E. A. Sperry, and Mr. G. C.


Stone, in the States; Mr. W. H. Aldridge in British
Columbia; Major Stassano, of Turin; and Mr.
Schneller, of Harlem.

The statistics and data given in this volume have been
chiefly collected from existing publications, reference to
which is usually given, without further acknowledgment.

Finally, I desire to record my sincere appreciation of
the guidance and help I have received from Prof. S. J.
Chapman, Dean of the Faculty of Economics, who not
only placed me in a position of forming some judgment
of the economic side of the question, but has throughout
tendered me every encouragement and assistance.



Introduction - - - xi.

I. Cost of Power Production - - - - i

II. Niagara Falls - - - 7

III. The Copper Refineries of New Jersey - - 32
IV. Canadian Water Powers and Electro-
chemical Centres - - - - - 38

V. Electric Smelting of Iron Ores and Steel

Production ___ - _ 65

VI. Ozone and Water Purification - - - 81

VII. Gold and Silver Refining - - - - 88

VIII. Electrical Manufacture of Carbon Bisulphide 92
IX. Electro-chemical Industries in the Alps,

France, and Belgium - - - - 96

X. The Electrical Fixation of Atmospheric

Nitrogen ______ 107

XI. Power Centres and Electro-chemical Works

in Great Britain - - - - - 115


The electro-chemical industry is of comparatively
recent origin, since it is only within the last 20 years
that it has been possible to employ economically electric
energy on a sufficiently extensive scale. The rapid
progress which has been noticeable in recent years has
gone hand in hand with the general advance in electrical

When electro-chemical processes were first exploited,
great difficulties were met with in obtaining the requisite
dynamos and other electrical machinery. Thus, so
recently as 1887, at the time of the installation of the
Cowles plant for the manufacture of alluminium-alloys
at Milton, in Staffordshire, the 500 horse-power dynamo
which was specially constructed for this process, was
considered so great an achievement that it was for some
time known as the "Colossus", whereas to-day 10,000
H.P. generators are in quite common use at large power

The whole scope of applied electro-chemistry has thus
constantly expanded with the general developments in
electrical engineering and particularly with the cheapen-
ing in the cost of power generation resulting from such

Since these early days, the electro-chemical industries
have developed along very many different lines, and,
indeed, few chemical processes have escaped being
affected in a greater or less degree by the application of
electrical methods.

In examining the distribution of electro-chemical
works, it is very apparent on how many factors the
question of the location of an industry depends. One
has to consider chiefly the proximity of the market and


of the sources of the raw material, the availability of
means of transportation, and the facilities for obtaining
labour and power. Another desideratum is the vicinity
of subsidiary industries, which facilitate co-operation
and, either by serving as a source of materials used in
the electro-chemical process, or by offering an outlet for
the products of the factory, give valuable economic

In most cases it is found that electro-chemical works
gather around centres where cheap power is available.
This is due to the fact that in the majority of these
processes, the consumption of power is very great, and
the outlay for this amounts to a very large proportion
of the total working expenses. Another reason is
probably to be found in the fact that the supply of power
from an independent source, instead of generating it
inside the factory, saves the individual company a large
capital outlay ; and as electro-chemical enterprises have
frequently to fight their way against outside interests, a
saving in this capitalisation is often imperative.

In this country no revolution has been caused in the
chemical industry by the introduction of electro-chemical
methods. The open competition of old established and
well developed methods makes the introduction of new
processes a very slow matter, and even in the case of
commodities which can only be prepared by electro-
chemical means, it appears to be more economical to
import these from countries like America where condi-
tions are especially favourable for the development of
new processes.

In America the electro-chemical industry has made
very rapid strides. Untrammelled by the existence at
home of chemical works on a sufficiently extensive scale
to provide the rapidly growing demands, the newer
processes have here founda very suitable locality for their
development, and during their infancy enjoy the foster-
ing influence of a protective tariff". The progress in


America is also due in no small measure to the great
enterprise and superior technical training of the people.

The existence of cheap water power may, in some few
cases, be imperative, and in others, advantageous for
the successful carrying on of electro-chemical processes,
but the relative power expenditure varies so greatly from
case to case that what is true of one product by no
means holds good for another. Gas and even steam
power, as will be shown later, frequently afford greater
general economy.

It is largely from these considerations that a study
of the economics of the electro-chemical industries
individually, possesses a growing interest in our own
country, and there can be no doubt that in the near
future many of these processes will undergo substantial
development in Great Britain.



The question of the cost of power production is a very
intricate one on account of the number of factors which
have to be considered in this computation. In many
cases the figures quoted have been vaguely and
erroneously estimated, either from interested motives
or through misunderstanding of some of the elements
which build up the total cost.

Even with all data at hand, the calculation of power
cost certainly becomes an involved problem.

The total cost of generating power by any means
consists of two portions : —

(i) The " works costs," which include such items as
fuel, oil, water, etc., and their conveyance, and
the expenses of management, attendance, and
accessory duties.
(2) " Capital costs," which embrace the interest on
the outlay on machinery and buildings, to-
gether with an adequate provision for the
depreciation of plant, and also the rent of the
These elements of cost are necessarily very variable,
depending on the locality, size of plant, perfection of
machinery, and cost of fuel and labour, and are con-
tinually being lowered through the refinement of
methods and improvement of machinery.

In the case of gas engines, the working cost is low
owing to the high thermal efficiency, though the capital
cost is higher than for a steam turbine plant owing to
the heavier initial expense. With water power, the
capital expenditure constitutes the bulk of the total cost


on account of the expense of development and the fact
that no fuel is required.

Conclusions as to the cost of power are apt to be hastily
drawn from the results obtained by electric lighting and
power companies, although these are so very different in
character from those engaged in continuous power
generation on a large scale, which latter alone are of real
interest in dealing with this question.

It must be remembered that the load factor, or the
ratio of the average power to the maximum consumed, is
of great importance in determining the cost. Thus, in
the case of companies which supply electric current for
lighting and power purposes, a load factor of over
50 per cent, is very rarely obtained, w'hereas with purely
electro-chemical processes this will usually reach as
high a value as 95 per cent.

Steam Power.

The following table* contains estimates of power costs
at several large stations in this country where steam
power is used : —

Cost ok Power Generation. Steam. Works Costs per B.T.U,





Repairs, Total
etc. per unit
d. d.

Station Per ton Per unit Wages
s. d. d. d.


(CarviUe) 5 6 0-078 0-022

(Neepsend) 5 8 0-096 0-072 0-003 0-038 0-209
Messrs. Watson

(Linwood) 8 0-148 0-022 0-013

0-004 0-016 0-121

0-022 0-205

Capital Costs.

Per unit
10 per cent, depreciation on £15 per kilowatt ... 0-042
5 per cent, interest ,, „ ... 0-021


R. S. Hutton. Engineering (Dec. 7th, 1906), vol. Ixxxii, p. 779.


Conversion Table.
Cost per B.T.U. to cost per H.P. and K.W. year.


H.P. year K.W. year


£ £


27-4 36-5


13-7 18-25


5-5 7-3


2-74 3-65

1 H.P. = -76 K.W.


Gas En^

Much may now be expected from the development of
large gas engines worked in conjunction with producer
or blast furnace gas, and, especially in the latter case,
it seems highly probable that use may be made in the
future of power generated in this manner for the
production of ferro-alloys and steel, which themselves
are so closely associated with the application of the
metallurgical products of the blast furnace.

An estimate of power costs in the case of gas engines
is as follows : — *

For a power house generating 20,000 H.P. with a
load factor of 95 per cent., using blast furnace gas,
assumed to be obtained free of cost, the total capital cost
of machinery and buildings per brake horse power is
computed at ^10. 13s., and the total cost per H.P.
year, including interest on capital, labour, repairs and
depreciation of plant is variously fixed at ;^i. 14s. 4d.,
;£i. 17s. 4d., and j£2. is. lod., according to whether the
life of the plant is assumed at 20, 15, or 10 years. In
the case of producer gas, obtained from coal, and allowing
for the value of ammonia recovered, the estimated cost of
power is as shown in the table : —

Price of Coal per
6s. 7s. 6d.



Life of Plant

£2 1 9
2 6
2 10 3

£2 8 5
2 12 8
2 16 11

£2 15

2 19

3 3



20 years
15 years
10 years

J. J. Robinson. Mech. Engineer (April 3rd, 1908), vol. xxi, p. 436.


This estimate appears to be too low, though on the other
hand an important calculation made by C. E. Lucke* of
power costs in the States is probably too high. The
latter deals with oil and gas engines, and steam and
water power, and the results are as follow : —

Gas Engines and
"Water Power Oil Engines Producer Steam Engines

First cost $75-00-200-00 160K.W. 600K.W. 5000 K.W.
perK.W. units $270-00 $110-00-150-00


Fixed charges 10% 10% 10% 10%

rate per cent.
Fixed charges $7-50-20-00 121-70 $27-00 $16-50-22-50

per K.W. year

Operating and 1-00-5-00 56-94 38-54 52-56

Mfg. costs per
K.W. year

Total power 8-50-25-00 78-64 65-54 69-00-75-00

costs per K.W.

Water Power.

The cost of water power varies within very wide
limits, and in some instances descends to an exceedingly
low figure. In other cases, however, water powers have
been developed at an expense which brings the cost of
supply almost to the level of that of steam power. In
the case of the most important water power companies
there is usually no information published with regard to
costs. Large profits are frequently made, and the price
is in a large degree adjusted in accordance with the
demands of the individual consumers. The following
examples will serve to show the wide variations which
exist in individual cases. Examples marked with an

•C. E. Lucke. Electrochem. and Metall. Ind. (1907), vol. vi, p. 230.


asterisk represent prices at which the power is actually
sold : —

Water Power.
Total costs or charges per Electrical H.P. year to large consumers.

Niagara* ... ... ... 3

Niagara* (Ontario Power

Company, to mimicipalities)
Niagara* (Power delivered

to City of Toronto)

Sault Ste. Marie*

Cameron Rapids, Ontario


Kootenay Power Co., B.C. .
Mexico*(El Oro Gold Mines)
Kanawha Falls (Va.)
Horahora Rapids (New
Zealand ...

Svaelgfos, Norway

Notodden, Norway


Austria (Meran)*...

Savoy (Bellegarde)*

Savoy (Chedde) . . .

Tivoli (Italy)

s. d. £ s. d.
10 0-4 3

2 2 6


2 17


2 1


1 17


Total generating and
transmitting costs
allowing interest
at 5 per cent.

3 3





Proposal of Waihi
Gold Mining Co.
No transmission
costs included.





13 0—

1 10

2 7


2 4




Delivered in Rome.


Estimated Capital Cost of Hydro-Electric Power Stations.

Power Proposed Cost per H.P.

Situation or Installed Total Cost Installed

£ £ s. d.

Lake Titicaca, Peru
Mexican Light and Power Co.
Cameron Rapids, Ontario ...
Augst-Wyhlen, near Rhein-

felden, Basle
Societa Idroelettrica, Ligure,

Aveto Riva ...
Societa Generale Elettrica

Adamello, Milan...
Horahora Rapids, Wailii,

New Zealand

(including transmission lines)

Mech. Engineer, March 27th, 1908. XXI.

The importance of this question of the cost of power
in electro-chemical operations varies very much from
case to case according to the proportion the power-costs
bear to other operating expenses and to the value of the
product. The data available for individual cases are
somewhat scanty.

The following table serves to exhibit roughly the wide
differences which exist in some of the principal electro-
chemical industries: —

Copper (refined)
Caustic Soda...




8 14

10 6






13 4

14 13



13 6




17 10
28 19

Potassium Chlorate ...

Calcium Carbide

Ferro Chromium (70 per cent. Cr.)

Aluminium ...

Pig Iron (from Ore)...

Steel (from Pig and Scrap) .

Lead (Bett's process)

Yield per H.P. year

Approx. Value

in tons

per ton

15 to 24


1-4 to 2-4 (75 per cen

t) £10 (caustic

also 3 to 5


Bleaching Powder.

0-5 to 0-8


1-2 to 2-0


:r.) 0-8





£3. 5s.





The Niagara River, in its 25 miles course between Lakes
Erie and Ontario, has a change of level of 326 feet,
including a sheer drop of 165 feet at the Falls. The
energy obtainable from the Niagara River has been
estimated at 7,000,000 H.P., and since its recognition
by engineers as a possible source of power, many
schemes for utilising it in large quantities have been put
into practice.

At first, some hesitancy was felt since coal was very
cheap in this district (7s. a ton), and there was great
uncertainty of being able to dispose of the power in such
large quantities, but the optimism of the promoters in
erecting very large plants has been more than justified ;
the demand for power continually increases, and is
indeed greater than the development of supply. As a
result of recent exhaustive international enquiry the
development of 750,000 H.P. has been fixed as a limit
by the American and Canadian Governments with a
view to preventing serious damage to the beauty of the Falls.

At present the following are the most important of the
power companies, a total of about 300,000 H.P. being
actually monopolised, so that only a small percentage of
the total flow of water has been diverted : —

Additional Power
Power Developed development in
at end of 1906 f ourse of contstruction




Hydraulic Power and Manu-

facturing Co



Niagara Power Co.



Canadian Niagara Power Co.



Ontario Power Co



Electrical Development Co.

of Ontario

10 000






Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Co.

The oldest power project at Niagara Falls was that of
the Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Co., which
was incorporated as early as 1853, and steps were then
taken for the construction of a canal 70 feet wide by
10 feet deep, which w^as finally accomplished after many
delays and which has lately been enlarged to a width
of 100 feet and a depth of 14 feet. In 1881, power was
first supplied for commercial purposes, in 1885, 10,000
H.P. was in use, and in 1896 the erection of a second
power house was undertaken. The latter is situated in
the gorge below the Falls, an available head of 210 feet
being thus obtained. The plant has on several occasions
been enlarged, and at the present time there are in
operation in this power house 15 turbines, giving a
combined output of 34,000 H.P. The electrical
development of this company has been made to suit the
different industries which have located themselves close
to the power house, continuous and alternating current
being generated at voltages suitable for the requirements
of the consumers.

The Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufactur-
ing Co. has now erected an additional power house with
a capacity of 100,000 H.P., the water being taken from
the same canal.

There are separate penstocks to supply water to every
8,000 H.P. turbine. These turbines are of the horizontal
shaft type, and will run at 300 revolutions per minute,
the alternators directly coupled to the turbines giving
3 phase current at 11,000 volts 25 cycles.

Niagara Falls Poiver Co.

In 1890, plans for Niagara power development began
to meet with more general consideration, and the
question of the construction of a large central station
was discussed in detail. The project involved the
establishment and development of an industrial centre


and concerned itself with the erection of a large power
house and the distribution of power to distant towns.

The leading American engineers and capitalists
interested themselves in this proposition, though little
experience was at hand on which plans could be based.
" The Cataract Construction Company " was formed in
1889, and the President, Mr. E. D. Adams, in 1890,
established at London an International Niagara Com-
mission with power to award large prizes.

Inquiries and examinations concerning the best known
existing hydraulic developments were undertaken, and
plans concerning turbines and other machinery incident
to the use of water power and its transmission, were
submitted to the Commission. The Commission con-
sisted of Lord Kelvin, Dr. Coleman Sellers, Colonel
Turrettine, Prof. E. Mascart, and Prof. W. C. Unwin ;
Prof. George Forbes, of London, served as the
company's chief electrical engineer. Rights to develop
200,000 H.P. on the American side were obtained, and
the construction of a tunnel was commenced. The
erection of the power house was begun in 1891, a
short canal being made for this purpose at a point about
one mile above the Falls. Two power houses are now
situated on opposite sides of the canal, and the water,
after passing through iron gratings to remove any debris
or ice, is led through penstocks and thence vertically
downwards, a distance of 178 feet, to the turbines. The
turbines are installed near the bottom of two wheel slots,
excavated out of solid rock, under the respective power

After giving up its energy to the turbines, the water is
discharged into a tunnel about 21 feet in diameter, and
7,000 feet in length, which carries the water under the
city to the lower river. Each turbine is connected by a
vertical shaft to an electric generator installed above on
the ground level. The two power houses together
contain 21 vertical shaft turbines, each turbine being


directly connected to a 2 phase alternator giving
22,000 volts at 25 cycles, operating at a speed
of 250 revolutions per minute, and generating
5,000 H.P., making a total capacity for the two plants
of 105,000 E.H.P.

The flow of water on to the turbines is controlled by
a special form of governor, which is of the pendulum
type, and works in conjunction with a relay cylinder.
By this means a speed constant to within i per cent.,
is automatically maintained, when variations in load

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Online LibraryJohn Norman PringSome electro-chemical centres : a report to the electors of the Gartside scholarships → online text (page 1 of 12)