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from the old process, has engaged the attention of scientific men since the time of Reaumur, whose work appeared nearly a century ago, to the present time, without having produced any result of the least value. The process of making natural steel, or that of decarburating pig iron, to a certain extent in a charcoal refinery, and then drawing it into bars under the hammer, has been known for ages; and, for a long period, was the only known method of making steel in Europe; but the steel thus made is inferior to all other kinds that are mantie factured, and its quality is such that it is not used in this country for any purpose whatever; even this inferior article, however, costs about three times the price of the pig iron from which it is made, and its price quoted in the Prices Current of the day, in bond for export, is about 171. a ton. At length, however, this object is announced as having been accomplished by a gentleman, who states the apparent paradox, that he is able to produce cast steel at a cost not exceeding that of pig iron of a quality suitable for the manufacture of steel. of the importance of such a discovery, supposing it brought into practical operation, some opinion may be formed, from considering that steel made in this manner may be sold at half the present selling price of that of medium quality, made in the usual way, at a profit of 100 per cent.; and that the quality of it, according to the statement of the discoverer of the process, will be equal to that now made from the most expensive foreign iron; it is also stated that the steel is suitable for every purpose for which steel is now used-from coach springs to surgical instruments—and that, consequently, this process must entirely supersede all those at present in use for making the various descriptions of steel now used in the arts. The quantity of steel of all kinds now annually manufactured in this country alone, is estimated at 25,000 tons; if the average value of all kinds of shear and cast steel in ingots be taken at 287. a ton, the value of the whole quantity manufactured will be 700,0001.: if cast steel can be made by the new process, so as to admit of its being sold at half this price, with a profit of 100 per cent., there will be a saving to the public of 350,0001. a year, and a profit to the manufacturers of the steel, of 175,000/.
It is stated to us that a suitable material for this manufacturing steel may be had in great abundance in this country, and the manufacture can be carried on to any extent, commensurate with the increasing consumption, which will be the certain consequence of such an enormous reduction in price to the consumer, without being dependant, as the steel manufacturers of England have hitherto been, upon foreign countries for the supply of their raw material, and the scarcity of the best qualities of which has hitherto enabled the possessors of such material to obtain for it an enormous monopoly price. The steel made by the new process would all be of uniform quality, and trials on a large scale, even in this stage of the matter, have satisfied some of the best judges in this country, that it is impossible to surpass it as regards its quality.
M. Schafhaeutl's Method of Purifying Castings applied to the
Moulding in Second Fusion.
[Abridged from the Moniteur Industriel.] No metallurgist is ignorant of the process adopted by M. Schafhaeutl for refining sulphurous, phosphoric, and arseniferous castings: hitherto its success in Germany has been complete, and the method appears so simple and correct as to warrant the anticipation of the best results. The ingredients of his composition consist of 14 lbs. of peroxide of manganese, 31 lbs. of chloride of sodium, 10 ozs. of clayihe two last, of course, being the essential elements. The mixture being subjected to the temperature of a puddling oven, instead of volatilizing itself, decomposes; the sodium seizes the oxygen of the air or of the peroxide of manganese, and is transformed into soda, which unites with the silica and alumina of argine, and gives place to a silicate and aluminate of soda, which mix themselves with the scoriæ. The protoxide of manganese is converted afterwards into silicate, and thus diminishes the waste of iron; and the chlore being at liberty seizes on the sulphur, phosphorus, and arsenic, to form volatile chlorures, which escape by the chimney. We see, therefore, that the process has the effect, not only of purifying the castings, but, probably, of materially shortening the labor; and it is a question, whether, by a slight modification, it might not be adapted to the purifying castings for moulding in second fusion. But, for this it will be necessary, in the first instance, to lessen the proportion of peroxide of manganese. In fact, the contact of the metals with oxygen is wholly unnecessary, de. carboration of the castings not being intended, and as to the oxidation of the sodium, the current of air produced by the pipes is more than sufficient for that purpose. But, in applying the principle to the system in question, scoriæ were generated to a great extent, and the clay used in M. Schafhaentl's, unfortunately does not tend to diminish this difficulty, but rather creates others, waste, trouble, &c. But, then, how are we to produce decomposition in the marine salt? If we substitute hydro-chlorate of ammonia, we shall have, first, the advantage its salt being richer in chlore than marine salt; secondly, its requiring a far lower temperature to get volatilized; thirdly, the sal ammoniac being very easily decomposed by the iron; fourthly, the hydro-chlorate of ammonia does not augment the scoriæ; and, lastly, it contains from seven to eight per cent. of hydrogen, which would render the purification more complete; the only objection to this is the difference of price between the ammoniac and the marine salt. The question, then, is, would that objection be compensated by the undeniable advantages of the substitute? To purify the castings of sulphur, chlorine of sodium must be largely used; but this, and the difficulty of cooling, is overcome by the sal ammoniac, for the latter considerably raises the temperature of the furnace; and if this be es. tablished, we know nothing to prevent iron-masters from purchasing hydrochlorate of ammonia at a low rate, and then applying the carbonizing ovens, they would thus procure more salammoniac than they
could possibly use. But, though this substitution may thus be beneficial in the cupolas, we doubt if it would be so in the reverberating furnaces, as in the latter the intimate contact of the sulphurous casting with the sulphurating matters, exists only by a stirring about, more or less prolonged; and this stirring, a sine qua non condition of a sufficient renewing surface, may, if great care be not taken, occasion great inconveniences; the casting exposed on a large surface to the action of the air, drawn by the flame, will partly refine itself, or, at least, whiten; this, however, may be obviated, we think, by the admixture of a small proportion of carbon, which will preserve, as much as possible, that which constitutes the casting; thus, then, we have freely given the various advantages and objections which are prominent in the application of M. Schafhaeutl's system to the purification of castings in second fusion, by the substitution of hydro-chlorate of ammonia; it remains to be proved whether its benefit will counteract the difficulties which present themselves. The suggestion, however, is at least valuable, and we shall anxiously watch its issue.
On the Mean Year, or the Solar Variation of the Barometer, in
the climate of London. By Mr. LUKE HOWARD. Dir. Iloward exhibited curves which showed the mean annual pressure and temperature, and the quantity of rain, during a cycle of eighteen years. This period he conceived long enough to eliminate the lunar influence which meteorologists had for some time been willing to admit the existence of, and io exhibit that of the sun alone. The development of Mr. Howard's views depends so much on explanations in detail of the diagrams, that it is not possible for us to give them. The observations seemed to show a succession of nine warm and nine cold years, with-as might be expected-occasional irregularities and similar successions in respect of rain, but with a cycle of only half that duration. In the annual curves, deduced from the monthly ineans of the whole period, much greater uniformity is observed, and both the rain and barometric pressure follow more closely the march of the temperature.
The Rev. Dr. Robinson expressed a hope that these speculations of Mr. Howard might be confirmed, or rendered more precise, by the extensive observations now established at Kew. He could not help regretting, however, that Mr. Howard had not conjoined the state of the wind and hygrometer; as it was obvious from Colonel Sabine's paper on the Meteorology of Toronto, that the latter was intimately connected with barometric indications, while it was equally plain, that the former influenced the amount of rain.
Proc. British Assoc.-London Athenæum.
Transactions of the Paris Academy of Sciences.—Dec. 23. Messrs. Elie de Beaumont and Dufrenoy presented a lithographic map printed in colors by a new process, discovered at the Royal Printing-office of Paris.- letter was received from M. de Humboldt, stating that M. Ehrenberg has just made some new discoveries of infusoriæ still more wonderful than any he has. hitherto announced. A paper was received from M. Pirsis on the relations that exist be. tween the configuration of continents and the direction of the chains of mountains. He finds that, in general, the coasts are parallel with the chains of mountains.--M. Arago presented, in the name of M. Aimè, two instruments, one to ascertain the direction of submarine currents, the other to measure their speed. These instruments were accompanied by an account of several experiments which had been made with them. It states, amongst other things, that the greatest speed of the currents on the coasts is on the coast of Africa between Algiers and Bona, and not, as is generally supposed, between Gibralter and Algiers, and that in the Straits of Gibralter there are three parallel currents. Near the coasts the direction is from east to west, whereas the central current proceeds constantly from the west to the east; the latter is 7 miles wide between Trafalgar and Cape Spartel. The width of the strait, at its narrowest part, is 12 miles; between Trafalgar and Cape Spartel, it is 27 miles; and 15 miles between the Point of Europe and Ceuta.-M. Pouillet gave an account of some experiments, to ascertain the rate of rapidity of electricity and the explosive speed of gunpowder. As may be supposed, the rapidity of the electrical current is found to be almost incalculable. As regards the rate at which the explosion of gunpowder proceeds, he has ascertained that the time which elapses between the snapping of the capsule of a gun-lock and the departure of the ball from the barrel is the one hundred and fortieth part of a second. The electrical current would hardly be the three thousandth part of a second in performing the same distance.-In a letter from M. Jobard, of Brussels, that gentleman states that, when at Munich, he observed that the stone staircase of the bronze obelisk to the memory of the Bavarians who fell in the campaign of Russia was perfectly free from green mould in the parts washed by the rain. He is of opinion, that the oxide of the copper carried down with the rain destroys this vegetation; and recommends that a solution of copper should be tried in the cleaning of statues covered with vegetable matter.
Jan. 6.-Several communications were received of real or imaginary improvements in railway traveling.-In a former notice, we mentioned an apparatus, by a M. Chuart, the object of which is to indicate the danger from fire-damp, or the escape of gas. M. Chuart's invention consists of a globe, or ball, contained in a chemical solution highly sensible to any deterioration of the atmosphere, and acting upon a lever, which sets an index in motion, and thus shows the vitiated state of the atmosphere, whether in a mine, or elsewhere, long before the common air can be so saturated with gas as to explode on the application of a light. M. Chuart has added to his invention an alarum bell, which is struck by the lever when the ball is thrown off its equilibrium by the vitiated state of the atmosphere. Since M. Chuart first exhibited his apparatus he has made a great improvement. His ball was originally of glass, which was not only too heavy, but also liable to breakage. He now makes it of copper, so very thin that its weight
is almost nominal, and yet it is perfect in every part. We understand that he arrived at this perfection by means of the galvanic process, which gives a thinner substance than any mechanical means could effect consistently with the compactness that is required for the certain operation of the apparatus.-A paper was received from the Abbé Cochet, on the disappearance of the vine from Normandy.-M. Lewy made a communication, stating that he has analyzed several descriptions of wax obtained from different sources, and all of which, he says, have an affinity more or less to bees’-wax. He concludes that bees do not produce wax from any natural process of their own, but merely collect it.-A communication was received, announcing that the Abbé Baldacconi, conservator of the Museum of Natural His. tory of Sienna, has discovered a means of petrifying animal substan
The process consists in the immersion of the substance to be hardened, for a long time, in a strongly charged solution of twelve parts of bichloruret of mercury, and one or two parts of hydrochloruret of ammonia. By this process, the natural color of the objects is pre. served, which is not the case if the bichloruret of mercury be used alone. With the letter announcing this fact, was forwarded the liver of a dog, preserved, retaining its natural form and color.
Jan. 13.—A communication was made of the discovery of a comet, at Berlin, on the 28th ult., by M. d'Arrest.-A letter was read from Mr. Maclean, of the Cape of Good Hope, announcing that he had seen there, in October last, the comet discovered by M. Mauvais, and which was no longer visible in our atmosphere.— A letter from M. Le Bæuf informs the Academy that there is in Chili, the country of the Perivian bark, a plant which is esteemed its equal, but is very little known in Europe. It is the canchalaga.—The following curious letter was received from a wood-cutter, named Terebolf, of Brionne:- Since it appears to be the fashion to make the Academy acquainted with everything at all extraordinary that is witnessed for the first time, a poor wood-cutter may be permitted to communicate an observation, which has certainly been made also by several of my comrades, but which I have some reason to believe will be entirely new for Messieurs les Académiciens. I have remarked that whenever a flock of sheep passed near the place where we were occupied in stripping the oaks of their bark for tan, it was absolutely impossible for two or three hours, and by the means which we usually employ, to strip off the bark of a diameter of more than three or four centimètres. My comrades attribute this strange fact, which I remarked for the first time more than five years ago, to the volatile sweating of the sheep, which has the property of coagulating instantaneously the sap near the bark, and to prevent its free circulation for two or three hoirs.