THE FAURE BATTERY - STORED-UP ELECTRICITY.
The current number of Le Journal Universel d'Electricite contains, says Engineering, a very ably written article by M. Frank Geraldy upon the Faure secondary battery, to which we recently referred. From this article we find the space to make the following extracts: "The posters bearing the words "Power and Light" in enormous letters, are still visible on the walls; the noisy articles that have appeared in certain journals are not yet forgotten; however, the bills are beginning to disappear, the effect of the articles to decrease, excitement is on the wane, and the scientific press can at last be heard. It has, indeed, been difficult to discuss this matter sooner, for it was essentially necessary to have data and information as exact as possible, and these have not been obtained without trouble."
The author then refers briefly to the secondary battery of M. Reynier, and proceeds to describe the Plante battery, which he states to be almost identical with that of M. Faure, M. Plante having, except in one point, long ago anticipated what M. Faure has recently brought forward, and which has been received with so much popular excitement. He then continues: "We will now proceed to the Faure secondary battery. It is protected by two patents dated October 20, 1880, and February 9, 1881, respectively. In these patents M. Faure describes principally those batteries composed of lead plates laid on frames covered with red lead, and protected by leather, attached by means of lead rivets, an arrangement similar to the rectangular balteries of M. Plante. The actual batteries are not so made, being constructed as follows: Two sheets of lead are taken 7.87 inches wide; one of these plates is 23.62 in. long, and 0.04 in. thick; the other is 15.75 inches long and 0.02 inch thick. Each plate is covered on both faces with a layer of red lead reduced to a paste by water, 1.76 lb. being spread over the larger plate, and 1.54 lb. over the smaller. On each face thus prepared a sheet of parchment paper is placed, and the whole is introduced into a sheath of thin leather. One plate is then put on top of the other and rolled up, strips of rubber being interposed obliquely, as shown in the sketch. The roll is then placed in a cylindrical lead cell, the outside of which is strengthened with copper bands, and the inside covered with red lead and leather, so as to increase the useful surface of the battery. The latter then presents the appearance shown in the sketch, and one of the projecting stems from the lead plates is bent over and soldered to the inclosing cylinder, which is ready for use when it has been filled with water with about 10 per cent of sulphuric acid. The apparatus when charged weighs about 20lb. It will be seen that this differs from the Plante secondary battery only in the employment of red lead. The material chiefly employed is the same, the mode of construction is precisely similar, the leather takes the part of the cloth previously used by M. Plante; it has no merit in itself; on the contrary, it is a cause of resistance, and is liable to deterioration, being useful only to keep the red lead in place. It is, in fact, this red lead which constitutes the new feature, and gives the special advantage to the apparatus.
"According to the inventor there are two advantages gained. The long and delicate operation necessary to prepare the Plante battery is not required. (This operation consists in passing through the battery an electric current, when oxygen goes to one plate, and produces a thin coat of peroxide of lead, and hydrogen goes to the other plate.) The second advantage claimed is that the battery has a storage capacity much greater than that of Plante; the proportion, according to M. Reynier, being, as deduced from numerous experiments, forty times greater with equal weights of batteries. The first advantage claimed may be readily conceded, and it is one of considerable practical importance and value. The second cannot be admitted, as will be seen from what follows. M. Hospitalier and myself were very desirous to subject the Faure battery to precisely the same tests that we have made with the Plante battery.
"To do this we first addressed ourselves to the proprietors of the invention, who replied that they could not intrust us with the apparatus; that they would not object to trials, but only after some time. Since this communication we have heard nothing from them. In the absence of direct data we will reason on the figures supplied, and the experiments made by the proprietors of the Faure battery before the public. It has been said and repeated officially that in a Faure battery weighing 165 lb., there could be stored up a quantity of electricity able to produce an effort equal to one horse power, for one hour, or 3.28 foot-pounds per second and per pound of battery. We have only seen the apparatus producing power, on one occasion, at the Societe d'Encouragement. Then it was far from giving this result; the battery weighed 326lb., but instead of giving 1,070 foot pounds per second it only gave 339 foot pounds. The apparatus might have been working under unfavorable conditions; it might have been doing far less than its maximum. We do not wish to draw any deductions from this experiment, which was, however, a very unfortunate one, and we will for the moment accept the 3.28 foot pounds per pound of battery. We ought here to examine what is the duty of the apparatus. In reference to this M. Reynier made before the different societies an algebraical calculation which is published in the Transactions of the Academy. This calculation was met Ã¢â‚¬â€ at the Societe de Physique Ã¢â‚¬â€ by many reasonable objections, the principal one being that it was useless, the only conclusion M. Reynier having drawn from it being that the more slowly the battery was discharged the better results that it gave, but no algebra was required to prove this. It is a general characteristic of the Plante secondary and of some primary batteries, as well as of dynamo machines. By using the battery very slowly, therefore, its duty is claimed to be 80 per cent, and as this proportion may be true of the Faure as well as of some other batteries, we will accept it. Admitting then this 80 percent, 11,800 foot pounds of actual work per pound weight of battery would represent 14,750 foot pounds stored up within the battery. This figure is, up to a certain point, confirmed by an experiment made at the Societe de Physique, where eight batteries, maintained, at a red heat during one hour and forty minutes, a platinum wire 13 feet long and 0.048 inch diameter. M. Reynier calculated that the total calorific work (interior and exterior) was equal to 253 foot pounds per second, or 1,518,000 foot pounds in all. According to M. Reynier, the weight of the batteries was 123 lb., so that the power stored up was equal to 12,341 foot pounds per pound of battery. There must have been a slight error here, because, as we have already seen, the useful weight of each battery cannot at the lowest estimate be less than 176 lb., giving a total of 140.8 lb., or 10,840 foot pounds per pound. According to the careful experiments we have made the useful storing power of the Plante secondary battery is 11,350 foot pounds per pound of battery, so that according to the different weights taken, the ratio of the latter to the former is 1.30, 1.08, or 0.95. This is a very long way off the forty times of M. Reynier. That gentleman, informed of this great difference, objected that the Plante battery we had employed must have been an exceptionally good one; those from which he had deduced his comparison had been furnished to him by M. Breguet. If this was the case these Plante cells did but little credit to the renowned maker who supplied. Besides, as a matter of fact, the batteries we experimented with were taken from those made by M. Plante for sale for medical and other purposes. Moreover it must be remembered that there are at present no Faure batteries made for sale, the ones already produced having been made by M. Faure's own hands or under his directions, and it is only just to institute a comparison between the Faure battery made by M. Faure, and the Plante battery made by M. Plante.
"The results we have given cannot be far from the exact truth; a priori there can be no reason why a battery in which the red lead is spread by hand, should be, weight for weight, superior to an apparatus in which the peroxide is furnished gradually by electricity, and experiments entirely confirm this deduction. The Faure battery is better adapted for industrial purposes, it has more solidity, and can, moreover, be made of larger dimensions; but these advantages might be obtained with the Plante battery if desired; the Faure cell does not require a preliminary electrical process to render it fit to receive the charge, which is a very great advantage, and besides it offers greater resistance for an equal surface, while it is less liable to damage than the other apparatus. But although the Plante battery has been in existence since twenty years, no one has ever suggested its employment is a means of producing power and light, and for several very good reasons, of which we will mention only one Ã¢â‚¬â€ that of transport Ã¢â‚¬â€ which has been treated in the company's prospectus as a detail of insignificance, and referred to only as it were in an excess of scrupulous minuteness.
"In order to furnish a force equal to one horse power during ten hours, ten batteries weighing 165 lb. each must be employed. This is throwing out of consideration the fact that a part of the charge only can be utilized on account of the fall of the potential below the necessary point, which would take at least 25 per cent off its utility. Making no allowance, however, for this, 1,650 lb. would have to be carried twice, that is to say, 1 1/2 tons of battery would be transported daily, besides all other expenses, for a charge of 10 francs a day; we leave the reader to draw his own conclusion. In fact, to maintain that this mode of electrical distribution is more economical than by wires, where they can be used, is to maintain that the present system of distribution of water involves the sinking of an enormous capital in buried pipes, that in these pipes there is always a considerable loss, and that it would be cheaper to substitute a house-to-house system of water transport by means of improved barrels. But this is a point we do not press; it belongs to commerce, not to science, and this journal has nothing to do with money interests. But science suffers much from enterprises of this kind, it scares away confidence from serious undertakings and exaggerated promises unfulfilled create the utmost distrust in subsequent undertakings of a cognate nature; the public not having obtained what they looked for turn away and refuse to have anything to do with more modest but useful applications which are offered to them. Will it not be thus with the Faure apparatus? The experiences obtained have much interest. The inventor mentions in his patents various special applications,especially for tramways, for which the battery may have a useful future. But why does not the inventor confine himself within the limits of possibility?
"Whatever future may be in store for it, we are at least indebted to it for having drawn special attention to the study of electrical accumulators. Since the announcement of the Faure battery, we know of four others in course of development, all of them of novelty and interest, and all promising a useful though less ambitious future.
"M. Reynier, at the last seance of the Societe de Physique, remarked sadly that he did not ignore the relative imperfection of the apparatus he represented, but both M. Faure and himself had been unable to complete them themselves before bringing them before the public, and he trusted soon to be able to show far better results than those given up to the present time. It is an unfortunate position for a man of science to find himself exhibiting and praising without restriction an apparatus of which he sees and acknowledges the shortcomings; it is, in fact, a false position, and one which he would do better to avoid."
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