Remarkable uses of peat

Remarkable uses of peat

Mar, ~,o~:>.I N~,/c,~" aJe,/ C?;JJzmctets. 233 At o n e peri~,d it ~xaa t h o u g h t that wood m i g h t be largely d i s p e n s e d with in t h ...

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Mar, ~,o~:>.I

N~,/c,~" aJe,/ C?;JJzmctets.

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At o n e peri~,d it ~xaa t h o u g h t that wood m i g h t be largely d i s p e n s e d with in t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n of w~!ships, a n d t h i s idea w a s c a r r i e d out in t h e b u i l d i n g of o~e of t h e l a r g e t,h~glish l~atileships, lint it w a s found to be q u i t e impracticable to do axxav x\ith w o o d ~r s o m e s i m i l a r n o n - c o n d u c t i n g s h e a t h i n g in t h e interior of s u c h vessels, s i n c e t h e bare m e t a l , a l m o s t a h v a y s d r i p p i n g with nlo{sturc in t h e int<:ri(,r, is likewise f o u n d to be e x t r e m e l y evhl in u i n t e r , a n d t!l~t:ll(llll'~tl)lV h o t ill S i l l l l l l t e r ,

Thee ( ; c r m a u n oval a u k h o r i t i c s s e e m to h t v e r e a c h e d t h e c o n e h l s i o u tllat t h e m o s t practical course to p u r s u % at least u n t i l s o m e satisfactory process for firepr{~oliu~, or an efficient s u b s l i t u t e for wo:~d h a s b e e n devised, is to restrict t h e use of wood i~ t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n of t h e i r w a r s h i p s to the s m a l l e s t possible a u l o u n t . To \~hat e x t e n t t h e y h a v e s u c c e e d e d in d o i n g t h i s will appear from s t a t e m c ~ t s l:ttely m a d e by H e r r Dietrich, C o n d u c t o r - i n Chief of t h e G e r m a n N a v y , wllich are a b s t r a c t e d f r o m r e c e n t i m p r e s s i o n s of C~ssier's ~?agazb~e. " \Vo(~den d e c k p l a n k s a r e 11o l o n g e r laid ; steel d e c k p l a t i n g is covered with linoletml, s o m e t i m e s over a l a y e r of cork. I n t h e c r e w s ' q u a r t e r s t h e sides of tllc s h i p s arc not celled, in t h e ol'licers' r o o m s t h e c a l l i n g is m a d e of steel s h e e t s , lim?d x~ith cork. F o r c a b i n b u l k h e a d s t h e steel is covered w i t h t h i n woolen c l o t h , a n d w i t h cork l i n i n g u n d e r n e a t h , w h e r e it is desirable to d e a d e n soultd or to lower t h e t e m p e r a t u r e x :.. ~.'- All w o o d is r e m o v e d f l o u l t h e a m m u n i t i o n r o o m s save t h e r a c k s for s h e l l s a n d p o w d e r c h a r g e s . ~<- ,x. * I.~or all l a d d e r s a m l steps steel is u s e d '~" "::" -.'s. C h a r t h o u s e s a n d c a p t a i n s ' r o o m s a l e m a d e e n t i r e l y of steel a n d fitted o u t with n o n - c o m b u s t i b l e m a t e r i als. S i n c e all s u c h c h a n g e s will be a little e x a g g e r a t e d , it s e e m e d to be a d v i s a b l e to a b a n d o n wood for t h e i n t e r i o r fittings, a n d especially for t h e furn i t u r c , a n d to r e s o r t to fireproof m a t e r i a l w h i c h will n o t splinter. M a n y t h i n g s ~ e r e tried ; f u r n i t u r e was m a d e of s t e e l aml a l m n i n u m l i n e d w i t h cork a n d co~ert d with l i n o l e u m or c a n v a s , b u t it was n o t e q u a l to wood f u r n i t u r e . O n l y t h e t~edsteads are c o n s t r u c t e d of iron, steel or brass. T h e i n s i g n i f i c a n t q u a n t i t y of wood in t h e few pieces of f u r n i t u r e w h e n i g n i t e d is n o t considered a d a n g e r o u s source of s m o k e , w h i c h is c o n f i n e d to t h e rest of t h e outfit of t h e staterooms--the mattresses, blankets, clothing and books." T h i s s e e m s to be c a r r y i n g t h e exelusiofi of t h e d a n g e r e u s e l e m e n t of illterior w o o d w o r k on w a r s h i p s to t h e v e r y lowest p r a c t i c a b l e limit, a n d , n e x t to e m p l o y i n g an efficient s u b s t i t u t e for it, is d o u b t l e s s t h e b e s t practice. T h e difficulties in t h e w a y of d e v i s i n g s u c h a s u b s t i t u t e , a l t h o u g h very great, are b y 11o m e a n s i n s u r m o u n t a b l e , a n d it w o u l d n o t be s u r p r i . i n g , in view of t h e v e r y g e n e r a l i n t e r e s t n o w b e i n g t a k e n in e v e r y t h i n g p e r t a i n i n g to n a v a l affairs, if an e a r l y s o l u t i o n of t h e p r o b l e m were f o u n d . W.

R E M A R K A B L E USES OF PEAT. O n e of t h e m o s t i n t e r e s t i n g a n d a t t r a c t i v e e x h i b i t s at the V i e n n a E x p o s i t i o n o f last ) e a r was a b u i l d i n g c o n t a i n i n g t h e m o s t d i v e r s e articles m a d e from p e a t . E v e r y t h i n g in t h e h u i l d i n g , f r o m t h e c a r p e t s o n t h e floor to t h e curt a i n s a t t h e w i n d o w s a n d t h e p a p e r oi1 t h e wall, h a d been m a d e f r o m peat. T h e s e w e r e b u t r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s of w h a t will u n d o u b t e d l y s o o n b e c o m e a g r e a t i n d u s t r y a n d g i v e to t h e p e a t b o g s of t h e world a v a l u e n e v e r before d r e a m e d of.

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Notes c~nd G . n m c n / s .

U.F. I •

Credit for tim discovery of the possibilities of peat belongs chiefly to a Vienna gentleman, Herr Karl A. Zschi;rner. t i t s investigations into its nature began some twelve years ago with a study by means of the microscope o f what is called in Austria " t o r f s t r e u . " This is the layer of moss which covers the surface of most peat bogs. .It has hitherto, by those who have made use of the peat for fuel, been, at considerable expense, removed and tluown away. }[err Zselffirner's exanlhmtion showed that the plant renlains which iuake np this layer abound in hollow spiral cells. These absorb water and otImr fluids with great avidity. While ordinary straw cannot absorb over f(mr times its weight of tluids, this pegtt straw will absorb ten times its weight. The lwat straw, moreover, possesses the antiseptic and disinfectant qualities of peat, qualities which have long been known, but of which little use has been made. Ilerr Zsch/;rner accordingly hit upon the idea of drying the straw and using it as an absorbent in stables, breweries and various manufactories. For such purposes it proved most admirably adapted, and the denmnd for the product soon grew large. Having greater absorptive power than ordinary straw, the peat straw can be used much lo1~ger in any given place aud yet will have proportionally grea{er manurial value. It gives a healthy, resilient footing also for animals. For packing of both perishable and breakable articles it is also better than ordinary straw, since it is more elastic and less easily penetrated by heat and cold. Another form of peat which was found to be a better absorbent for some places was the peat itself, dried and ground to a powder. This is especially adapted for ~lse in earttl closets aud about sinks and drains, its absorbent power and disinfectant properties making it admirably adapted for these uses. tlerr Zsch6rner did not rest his investigations here. A fl~rther study of tt~e peat itse'f showed that it was very largely made up of fibers. These fibers come from the remains of reeds and grasses, wl,ich, growing mid dying in suecessive generations, form the peat. In their submergence the reeds and grasses suffexed no m~atomical change, but their physical and chemieaI character became entirely different. The organic substance of the plant became inorganic, so that nothing capable of fermentation or decay was left, while the fibrous structure remained intact. These fibers then were found to have unusual physical properties. They were found to be very durable, very elastie, to be non conductors of heat and non-combustible. If a fabric couhi be woven from them, it would be one possessing nniqne properties. To the toughness of linen it would add the warmth of wool, an absorbent power greater than that of cotton, and t h e indestructibility of asbestos. It must, however, be woven wittmut the aid of oils or water, or much of its value ~ould be lost. After twelve years of experimenting, Herr Zsch6rner sueeeeded in m a k i n g the peat fibers weavable. There is now, therefore, scarcely any textile article which cannot Be made from peat. Coats, hats, carpets, rugs, ropes, m a t t i n g a11d pillows are some of the articles which have been made, and have been found useful. What superiority these will prove to have in practice over fabrics made from other fibers, only time ~ill tell. Some of t h e m have, however, already been proved to be immensely superior to any other fabrics. Tllis is especially true of the blankets and other coverings used for horses and cattle, for they greatly excel in warmth, absorbent power, cleanliness

~Iar., I9oo.3

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and durability. The unspull fiber promises to be a valuable substitute for absorbent eotto11, since it will not only absorb a m u c h greater quantity of blood and other fluids than cotton, but it possesses powerful antiseptic prop. erties as well. The coarser fiber, it is expected, will come into favor for use in upholstery work, its extraordinary elasticity making it most valuable for this purpose. The latest achievement of the discoverer of the uses of peat has been the making of paper from its fiber. This has been carried to such an extent that paper of ;flmost every variety of weight and quality can be nlade, while the toughness and durability of each is equal to that of paper fronl any kind of vegetable pulp. The above are but a few of t h e uses to which this remarkable fiber can be pitt, but t h e y indicate possibilities which may yet rank peat bogs aruong the most valuable of the world's resources.--O/iver C. Farrb~glo~z, in

lhc .LkicillzJic H meriauz.

CAI,CIUM. .~I. 5foissan, of the University of Paris, who has been successful in the extraction of the rare metals in the electrolytic furnace, has recently undertaken, according to the 5"cicJz/4/ic .411zeriazTz, a series of experiments with the metal calcium, which, although abundantly distributed in nature in the state of carbonate, sulphate, etc., has not, up to the present time, been prepared in any considerable quantity in tlm pure state. It will be remembered t h a t at the c o m m e n c e m e n t of the century Sir H m n p h r y Davy was the first to establish the existence in lime of a metallic body, and, by decomposing it by an electric eurre1:t in the presence of mercury, he obtained an amalgam Of the metal calcium. Later on, in I855, Matthiessen electrolyzed a mixture of chloride o f calcium and chloride of strontium, and thus obtained small globules of calcium having a yellow color. A few years later Jobin prepared the metal by a purely chemical process, causing the metal sodium to react upon iodide of calcium in fusion contained in an iron crucible ; however, the quantity of metal obtained was small, 3oo grams of iodide giving but 6 to 8 grams of calcium globules, After other experiments, scarcely more advantageous, 3I. l~loissan has been the first to obtain a relatively considerable weigtlt of t h e metal, tie employs two methods ; in t h e first, which is purely chemical, he utilizes the property which calcium possesses of dissolving in liquid sodimn at a dull red heat. In an iron crucible of I liter capacity are placed 6o0 g r a m s of auhydrous iodide of calcium, together with 24o grams of sodium. "Fhe whole is heated to dull redness, at which temperature the sodiutn unites with the iodine of the iodide of calcium, and the calcium set free dissolves in liquid sodium, which is in excess. Upon cooling it crystallizes in the middle of the mass of sodium, and by proper separation one may obtain brilliant hexagonal crystals of pure calcium. The amount of the latter is equal to 50 per cent. of t h e theoretical weight contained in the io:tide, and 4° grams have been obtained at a single operation. The second process employed by 1VI. 5Ioissan consists in the electrolysis of iodide of calcium in fusion at a dull red heat. A cylinder of pure nickel is used for the negative electrode, and for the positive a rod of graphite. The