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THE WASTE OF COAL.

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THE WASTE OF COAL. For long in this country we have benefited by cheap fuel; but much of the-- recent rise in the cost of coal is probably to be considered permanent. Some- thing, no doubt, can be done by putting an end to the more obvious forms of present waste. Professor Louis, for example, states that in certain mining districts coal is loaded into the tubs with forks in place of shovels. The reason is that the miners insist on being paid a fixed price for all coal raised to the surface, aad this price is in excess of the value of the small dust and slack. It is more profitable, accordingly, to leave this below, although it would be of considerable value for certain purposes. The waste of fuel thus occasioned is said to amount to 15 per cent. The stoppage of leakages of this kind may effect something in the reduction of fuel costs, but more is to be hoped from the adoption of different methods of utilising the fuel when raised.. There are, for example, some obvious advan- tages in replacing solid fuel with goseous, since, although the gas from a producer has a colorific value of only some 76 per cent. of that of the fuel from which it is derived, the ease and efficiency with which it can be utilised,and the value of the by-products, more than offsetts the producer losses. Some instructive figures on this latter head were given some years ago by Mr H. A. Humphrey in connection with the Mond producer. With coal at 6s. a ton he estimated that, making allowance for the value of the by-products recovered, 1 indicoted horse-power could be supplied for a year (working con- tinuously) at a net cost for fuel uf X9. b. 3d. With coal at 8s.,the corresponding figure is £19. 1. 8d. These estimates were, of course, based on the use of gas in inter- nal-combustion engines but from what has been pointed out above, the use of steam-turbines instead of gas-engines would, as matters stand, probably not in- crease the cost very materially. In this direction only does there seem any prospect of this country entering into effective compet- ition in certain industries with others more favoured by Nature with la houille blanche. No doubt the capital cost of develop- ing water is, in certain cases, so high that steam competition is possible even now, but in others, such as Norway, the natural con- ditions are so favourable that current can be delivered alongside deep water at a cost of but 30s. per kilowatt year. Using coal in the form of solid fuel, competition in power pro- duction would appear to be im- possible but it would seem that if coal prices do not increase much beyond normal figures gas- fired power stations might possibly be successful even in the electro-chemical industries.

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