machines were each fed by three of the accumulators which he uses in his polyscope.
When Gustave exhibited his Polyscope in 1878 he was using Plante cells... and charging those with a "Gravity" primary battery... actually a zinc-copper cell with sulphate of copper on the bottom and sulphate of zinc floating on top. But I assume the reference here to "accumulators" is to the Plante lead-acid cells `cause they were the only really "practical" secondary (rechargeable) cells invented up to that point... None of the other cell chemistries could "accumulate" a charge of electricity. They pretty much all just ate zinc etc. to made the DC flow.
The problem with the Plante cells was mostly that they took many, many weeks to make. Which is watt made Faures cells so much of an improvement. Haven't found his French patent yet but he applied for his US patent in 1881:
...and his US patent says he got his French patent on October 20, 1880.
So it was in that first year that Gustave started motorizing boats and trikes that the Faure battery became known. He might have bought some cells off of Faure but he was quite capable of making them himself... That one mention of his player piano at the 1881 Exhibition mentioned Faure batteries so I'm pretty sure he was riding Faure cells by then.
After a couple of frustrating decades of folks struggling with the Plante cells, in 1881 the new Faures attracted a huge amount of attention:
The Electrician May 7, 1881
FAURE'S SECONDARY BATTERY.
The importance of secondary batteries as a means of storing electricity is beginning to be recognised by practical electricians, and M. Emile Reynier, the inventor of a successful electric lamp, is at present engaged in studying the subject.
The beautiful researches of M. Gaston Plante on the polarisation of voltameters have led that skilful electrician to the invention of very powerful lead plate secondary batteries, which can be used for storing the electric current. He has succeeded in giving them a great capacity by means of successive charges and discharges regularly produced, which develop on the surface of the lead 9, coating of oxide and reduced metal in a divided state, favourable to the production of the secondary current.
A Plante couple of half a square metre surface, properly made, can store a quantity of electro chemical energy capable of reddening during ten minutes a platinum wire of 1 millimetre diameter for 8 centimetres of its length.
M. Plante has chiefly applied these resultsto pure experiment. By the discharge in tension of a large number of secondary couples, originally charged in quantity, be has obtained very high electric tension.
The Plante battery has already taken an important place in laboratories; it is likely also to be useful in distributing the electric current, and, therefore, mechanical work, or, indeed, all forms of energy, light, heat and chemical action. But in order to attain this end it is necessary to give the apparatus a greater capacity, combined with a smaller bulk. These improvements appear to have been made by M. Camille Faure.
His secondary battery is derived from that of M. Plante. The electrodes are of lead, plunged in water, acidulated by sulphuric acid; but it can be more easily constructed. In Plante's battery the formation is limited by the thickness of the lead plates; but M. Faure gives to his couples an almost limitless power of accumulation by covering the electrodes with a layer of spongy lead, formed and retained in the following manner :Ã¢â‚¬â€
The two lead plates of the couple are each covered with minium (red lead) or another insoluble oxide of lead, then enclosed in felt, kept in place by lead rivets. These two electrodes are then put side by side m a vessel of acidulated water. If they are very long they are rolled up like those of M. Plante. Thus constructed', the couple is formed by causing an electric current to traverse it, when the red lead is reduced to the state of peroxide on the positive electrode and lead npon the negative electrode. When the whole mass has been thus electrolised the couple is ready for charging.
On being discharged again, the reduced lead is oxidised, and the peroxide is reduced until the couple becomes inert. It is then ready for a new charge of electricity.
Practically one can store in this way a quantity of energy capable ofperforming a horse-power of external work during an hour in a Faure battery of 75 kilograms in weight.
The yield of the secondary battery of M. Faure can, under certain conditions, amount to 80 percent, of the energy expended in charging it, a result which is in perfect accord with the theory.
Nature 1881 May 19
STORING OF ELECTRICITY
SECONDARY batteries to store up currents of electricity in the form of chemical work promise to play so important a part in the ultimate adoption of the electric light, that improvements in their contraction are of peculiar interest. The latest innovation is due to M.Faure, who has modified with great success the secondary battery of Gaston Plante by covering the surfaces of the lead plates with a coating of minium, thereby increasing their capacity manifold. This device possesses the additional advantage that it obviates the necessity of "forming" the cell; by the tedious process of charging and discharging them for many days, as in Plante's batteries. Two sheets of lead are separately coated with minium and are rolled together in a spiral, being kept apart by a layer of felt, and are then placed in a
vessel containing dilute acid. When a current is passed into this cell the minium on one plate is reduced to metallic lead that on the other is oxidised to the state of peroxide. These actions are reversed while the charged cell is discharging itself. According to M.Reynier one of these cells made large enough to weigh 75 kilograms may store up energy sufficient to furnish afterwards one-horse power of work for an hour.
A correspondent of the Times of Monday gave an interesting account of an experiment he witnessed in Paris of storing electrical energy by the method adopted by M.Faure.
"A Faure battery, or pile secondaire," he states, "was charged with the electric fluid direct from the ordinary Grove battery and in my presence. It may be more economically done from a Gramme or Siemens machine. The receptacle consisted of four Faure batteries, each about five inches diameter and ten inches high, forming a cylindrical leaden vessel, and containing alternate sheets of metallic lead and minium wrapped in felt and rolled into a spiral wetted with acidulated water, and the whole placed in a square wooden box measuring about one cubic foot and weighing some seventy-five pounds. This was protected by a loose wooden cover, through which the electrodes (in lead) protruded, and were flattened down for convenience of transport. This box of "electric energy" was handed to me by M. Faure at my request, with the object of submitting it for examination and measurement to our eminent electrician, Sir William Thomson, F.R.S., at the University of Glasgow. I had the box by me all through the journey from Paris on Tuesday night (last week), including a five hours delay at Calais. I arrived at Charing Cross at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, after running the gauntlet of customs and police authorities, who suspiciously looked askance and seemed to doubt my statement that my box only held "condensed lightning," and contained no infernal machine or new explosive destined to illustrate some diabolical socialistic tragedy. From time to time on the journey I tested the force of the discharge and found it to have well maintained its energy. From London to Glasgow required only another ten hours, and finally, in about seventy-two hours from the time of charging in Paris, I had the satisfaction of presenting to Sir William Thomson M.Faure's rare offering of a "box of electricity," intact and potent, holding by measurement within that small space of one cubic foot a power equivalent to nearly one million of foot pounds! This wonderful box is now deposited in the laboratory of the Glasgow University, under the vigilant eye of its director, and being submitted to a series of tests and measurements, the results of some of which made Sir William exclaim, "Why, it's a little witch." With reference to this Sir Wm.Thomson writes to us under date May 17: Ã¢â‚¬â€ "I had the marvellous box under trial for seventy-two hours before I left Glasgow yesterday, giving it successive charges, and discharging to various decrees, measuring approximately the whole quantity sent in during the charge, and taken out in the discharge. Thus I shall be able to calculate the amount of energy spent, and the amount recovered under various conditions. Mr. J.T.Bottomley continues the trial in my absence. A considerable time must pass before I have results to publish."
Nature 1881 June 2
THE STORAGE OF ELECTRIC CURRENTS
PRACTICAL electricians seem to have made up their minds that a system for the distribution of electricity for the purposes of electric lighting or for driving electric motors will be incomplete unless it comprises a means of storage of the currents to provide against the risk of any temporary derangement or inconstancy in the generating apparatus. An accumulator of currents would in fact render the same service in an electrical system as do gasometers in systems for distributing gas, or the hydraulic accumulators in a system of hydraulic machinery.
At the present time much attention is directed to such accumulators, or, as they have been hitherto called, secondary batteries.
The principle of the secondary battery dates back to the very early days of Voltaic electricity, when in 1801, one year after Volta's "pile" had made its appearance, Gautherot, a French savant, observed that wires of platinum or of silver which had served as electrodes for the decomposition of water containing a little salt or sal ammoniac acquired the property of giving a brief current after being detached from the pile. This phenomenon, familiar to every electrician under the name of "polarisation of the electrodes," was observed again by Ritter of Jena, in 1803, with electrodes of gold wire; and the observation immediately led him to devise a battery from which these secondary currents could be readily obtained, and which constituted the first of all secondary batteries. He tried many different arrangements, using various metals Ã¢â‚¬â€ platinum, silver, iron, &c., but with lead he obtained no result. He attributed this secondary action to a soaking or accumulating of the two opposite kinds of electricity into the surfaces of the plates or into the intervening liquid. The true explanation was given by Volta and Marianini, and later by Becquerel, when they showed that the action arose from the deposits of oxygen and hydrogen, or of acid and of base upon the two electrodes, whose surfaces thus became chemically changed and capable of acting towards one another like the zinc and copper plates of an ordinary battery. Grove, in 1843, brought the matter to a decisive proof by constructing his curious gas battery, in which the positive and negative poles were both platinum plates, the one surrounded by oxygen gas, the other by hydrogen. Ritter's failure to obtain any effect from electrodes of lead arose from his employment of solutions of chlorides as the liquid, the chloride of lead which resulted on the passing of the current being a non-conductor, which at once stopped the current. M.Gaston Plante, who, in 1859, took up the study of the subject, found, after ecperimenting with many metals, that electrodes of lead, when immersed in dilute sulphuric acid, gave rise to very marked polarization-effects; for after passing through lead electrodes the current from two Bunsen's cells, the secondary currents were extremely strong and of considerable duration. He therefore constructed large secondary batteries, using for this purpose two sheets of lead immersed in dilute acid. In order to reduce the internal resistance by bringing the opposite surfaces as nearly as possible together the two sheets were of large size and were rolled together in a spiral form, being kept from touching by the interposition of sheets of coarse canvas, or in later forms by means of bands of india-rubber. The general form of Plante's secondary battery is shown in Fig.1. Such cells weighed over twenty pounds, and when properly prepared had an electromotive force 2 1/2 times that of a Daniell's cell; their internal resistance was also very small, being from one-eighth to one-twentieth of an ohm. These cells improved with use; the liberated gases attacking the surface of the lead electrodes, so that they gradually became of a spongy texture, while the surface of the plate at which oxygen was liberated became covered with a film of brown peroxide of lead. When both electrodes were thus "formed" by charging the cell at intervals of a few days in opposite directions, the Plants cell became a veritable accumulator of electric currents, and was able to store up from a comparatively feeble source a supply which could yield vastly stronger effects for a short time. In fact the secondary battery became in Planters hands a kind of Leyden-jar for storing currents of electricity; the essential point of difference between the two being that while the Leydenjar accumulates a charge, and can be charged of discharged in an instant Ã¢â‚¬â€ or in other words possesses only an "instantaneous capacity " Ã¢â‚¬â€ the secondary battery accumulates currents which may flow into it for many hours, and which may take also a considerable time for their discharge, its "continuous capacity" being very great as compared with its instantaneous capacity. The currents stored up in the secondary battery are however not stored up as accumulations of electricity. They are stored up in the form of chemical work done in the cell, this chemical work being capable of being retransformed at will into the energy of electric currents. When the charging current from an independent battery or from a dynamo-electric machine (see Fig. 2) is passed through a Plante cell, the electrode by which the current enters becomes more highly peroxidised than before, while a corresponding amount of deoxidisation takes place at the electrode by which the current leaves the cell. When the cell thus charged is used as a battery it gives back a current which flows out from the electrode, by which it formerly flowed in; passing through the cell from the deoxidised to the peroxidised electrode, until they are both reduced to a state of chemical similarity. If the cell is joined to the dynamo-machine which charged it, in order to drive it round as an electro-magnetic engine or motor, it will cause it to rotate in the same direction as that in which it was driven when used as a generator; the principle of reversibility applying both to the cell and to the machine.
Several forms of secondary battery adapted for storage of currents have been suggested in recent years. In Philadelphia Professors Houston and E.Thomson have tried a modification of the Daniell's cell, in which sulphate of zinc was electrolysed between electrodes of copper, the metallic zinc so deposited afterwards serving as the negative pole of the cell. Another suggestion, due to M. d'Arsonval, was to use an electrode of lead along with one of zinc, dipping into a solution of sulphate of zinc. The charging currents deposited metallic zinc upon the latter and liberated oxygen at the former, which, as in the Plante cell, became coated with spongy peroxide of lead. As this latter is not a very good conductor M.d'Arsonval further proposed to increase the effective surface by laying the sheet of lead horizontal and covering it with leaden shot, which should also become peroxidised.
The latest form of secondary battery is that of M.Camille Faure, described in Nature, vol. xxiv. p. 68, of which there has been so much talk in the semi-scientific press, and which is now being made the central point of a great financial "operation" in Paris. There can be no doubt that this instrument, though the accounts of its performances have been grossly exaggerated, is an improvement upon that of Plante, of which it is a slight modification. The labour and difficulty of "forming" the Plants cell, that is to say of charging and recharging it until a sufficient film of peroxide of lead should be produced, led M.Faure to try the effect of coating the lead plates at first with a film of red lead or minium, a lower oxide than the dark brown peroxide. The two sheets, after having been covered with minium, are rolled together precisely as in the Plante cells, as shown in Fig. 3, a sheet of felt being interposed to prevent internal contact. It was stated by M. Reynier that the capacity of such cells was forty times that of the Plante cell; but four times would have been nearer the mark if cells of equal size were compared. M. Faure's cells are made of large size and weigh 75 kilogrammes, or nearly 200 lbs. It is stated that one such cell would store a sufficient amount of current as to be able afterwards to yield in an hour an amount of work equal to one horsepower. Confirmatory observations are yet needed. Meantime let us just remind the enthusiast who brought over to England the "million foot-pounds" of energy stored up in a Faure cell, that he would have imported a dozen times as much stored energy if he had brought over instead a lump of coal of the same weight.
The uses for such secondary batteries may be of three kinds :Ã¢â‚¬â€1. They may serve as portable supplies of electricity to be left and called for to recharge when exhausted. 2. They may serve to accumulate supplies of electricity from dynamo-electric machines, and store them until required for furnishing electric light or motive power on a small scale. 3. They may serve as equalisers of electric currents in a system in which the supply is liable to fluctuations. Suppose, for example, a dynamo-electric machine is employed to produce electric light. Any least thing which alters the speed of the machine, even for an instant, makes the light flicker and change in intensity; while the breakage of the engine-strap would at once cause total darkness. But if a secondary battery of suitable dimensions and power were inserted across the circuit between the dynamo-machine and the lamp, the inequalities of the current would be greatly modified. When the light was not in use the battery would store up the current. If the engine failed the battery would at once put forth its power. It is probably in this direction that the secondary battery will find no unimportant field of usefulness.
STORAGE OF ELECTRIC ENERGY
THE following correspondence on this subject has appeared in the Times. By help of this and the communication in our issue of to-day from Sir W.Thomson, the reader will be able to understand the present position of this important question.
The marvellous "box of electricity" described in a letter to you, which was published in the Times of May 16, has been subjected to a variety of trials and measurements in my laboratory for now three weeks, and I think it may interest your readers to learn that the results show your correspondent to have been by no means too enthusiastic as to its great practical value. I am continuing my experiments to learn the behaviour of the Faure battery in varied circumstances, and to do what I can towards finding the best way of arranging it for the different kinds of service to which it is to be applied. At the request of the Conseil d'Administration of the Societe de la Force et la Lumiere, I have gladly undertaken this work, because the subject is one in which I feel intensely interested, seeing in it a realisation of the most ardently and unceasingly felt scientific aspiration of my life Ã¢â‚¬â€ an aspiration which I scarcely dared to expect or to hope to live to see realised.
The problem of converting energy into a preservable and storable form, and of laying it up in store conveniently for allowing it to be used at any time when wanted, is one of the most interesting and important in the whole range of science. It is solved on a small scale in winding up a watch, in drawing a bow, in compressing air into the receiver of an air-gun or of a Whitehead torpedo, in winding up the weights of a clock or other machine driven by weights, and in pumping up water to a height by a windmill (or otherwise, as in Sir William Armstrong's hydraulic accumulator) for the purpose of using it afterwards to do work by a waterwheel or water pressure on a piston. It is solved on a large scale by the application of burning fuel to smelt zinc, to be afterwards used to give electric light or to drive an electro-magnetic engine by becoming, as it were un-melted in a voltaic battery. Ever since Joule, forty years ago, founded the thermodynamic theory of the voltaic battery and the electromagnetic engine, the idea of applying the engine to work the battery backwards and thus restore the chemical energy to the materials so that they may again act voltaically, and again and again, has been familiar in science. But with all ordinary forms of voltaic battery the realisation of the idea to any purpose seemed hopelessly distant. By Plante's admirable discovery of the lead and peroxide of lead voltaic battery, alluded to by your correspondent, an important advance towards the desired object was made twenty years ago; and now by M.Faure's improvement practical fruition is attained.
The "million of foot pounds" kept in the box during its seventy-two hours' journey from Paris to Glasgow was no exaggeration. One of the four cells, after being discharged, was recharged again by my own laboratory battery, and then left to itself absolutely undisturbed for ten days. After that it yielded to me 260,000 foot pounds (or a little more than a quarter of a million). This not only confirms M.Reynier's measurements, on the faith of which your correspondent's statement was made; it seems further to show that the waste of the stored energy by time is not great, and that for days or weeks, at all events, it may not be of practical moment. This, however, is a question which can only be answered by careful observations and measurements carried on for a much longer time than I have hitherto had for investigating the Faure battery. I have already ascertained enough regarding its qualities to make it quite certain that it solves the problem of storing electric energy in a manner and on a scale useful for many important practical applications. It has already had in this country one interesting application, of the smallest in respect to dynamical energy used, but not of the smallest in respect to beneficience, of all that may be expected of it. A few days ago my colleague, Prof. George Buchanan, carried away from my laboratory one of the lead cells (weighing about 18 lbs.) in his carriage, and by it ignited the thick platinum wire of a galvanic ecraseur and bloodlessly removed a naevoid tumour from the tongue of a young boy in about a minute of time. The operation would have occupied over ten minutes if performed by the ordinary chain ecraseur, as it must have been had the Faure cell not been available, because in the circumstances the surgical electrician, with his pharaphernalia of voltaic battery to be set up beforehand, would not have been practically admissible.
The largest useful application waiting just now for the Faure battery Ã¢â‚¬â€ and it is to be hoped that the very minimum of time will be allowed to pass till the battery is supplied for this application Ã¢â‚¬â€ is to do for the electric light what a water cistern in a house does for an inconstant water supply. A little battery of seven of the boxes described by your correspondent suffices to give the incandescence in Swan or Edison lights to the extent of 100 candles for six hours, without any perceptible diminution of brilliancy. Thus, instead of needing a gas engine or steam engine to be kept at work as long as the light is wanted, with the liability of the light failing at any moment through the slipping of a belt Ã¢â‚¬â€ an accident of too frequent occurrence - or any other breakdown or stoppage of the machinery, and instead of the wasteful inactivity during the hours of day or night when the light is not required, the engine may be kept going all day and stopped at night, or it may be kept going day and night, which will undoubtedly be the most economical plan when the electric light comes into general enough use. The Faure accumulator, always kept charged from the engine by the house supply wire, with a proper automatic stop to check the supply when the accumulator is full, will be always ready at any hour of the day or night to give whatever light is required. Precisely the same advantages in respect of force will be gained by the accumulator when the electric town supply is, as it surely will be before many years pass, regularly used for turning lathes and other machinery in workshops and sewing-machines in private houses.
Another very important application of the accumulator is for the electric lighting of steam-ships. A dynamo-electric machine of very moderate magnitude and expense, driven by a belt from a drum on the main shaft, working through the twenty-four hours, will keep a Faure accumulator full, and thus, notwithstanding irregularities of the speed of the engine at sea or occasional stoppages, the supply of electricity will always be ready to feed Swan or Edison lamps in the engine-room and cabins, or arc lights for mast-head and red and green side lamps, with more certainty and regularity than have yet been achieved in the gas supply for any house on terra firma.
I must apologise for trespassing so largely on your space. My apology is that the subject is exciting great interest among the public, and that even so slight an instalment of information and suggestions as I venture to offer in this letter may be acceptable to some of your readers.
The University, Glasgow, June 6.
Although agreeing with every word of Sir William Thomson's letter in the Times of to-day, and entirely sympathising with his enthusiasm as regards the marvellous box of electricity, still I feel that it would have been desirable if in pointing out the importance of this new discovery Sir William Thomson had guarded against a very probable misconstruction of the purport of his letter.
The means of storing and re-storing mechanical energy form the aspiration not only of Sir William, but of every educated mechanic. It is, however, a question of degree Ã¢â‚¬â€ of the amount of energy stored as compared with the weight of the reservoir, the standard of comparison being coal and corn. Looked at in this way one cannot but ask whether, if this form of storage is to be the realisation of our aspirations, it is not completely disappointing. Large numbers are apt to create a wrong impression until we inquire what is the unit. Eleven million foot pounds if energy is what is stored in 1 lb. of ordinary coal. So that in this box, weighing 75 lb., there was just as much energy as in 1 1/2 oz. of coal, which might have been brought from Paris or anywhere else in a waitcoat pocket, or have been sent by letter.
When we come to the question of the actual conveyance of energy for mechanical purposes, this view is of fundamental importance. The weight of the same amount of energy in the new form is 800 times greater than the equivalent amount of coal; and as a matter of economy, supposing that energy in this form might be had at a certain spot and no capital were required for its conversion or storage, and that the energy were directly applicable it could not be carried ten miles Ã¢â‚¬â€ that is to say, such energy cannot be economically useful ten miles from its source, although coal had to be carried 100 miles to the spot. This limit, in truth, falls far short of what has been already attained by other means. By wire ropes and by compressed air or steam energy may be economically transmitted from ten to twenty miles. So that if this is the utmost of what is to be done by means of the storage of electricity this discovery adds another door to those which are hopelessly closed against the possibility of finding in Niagara or other water power a substitute for our coal, even when the object is motive power, and much more for that purpose for which five-sixths of our coal is used Ã¢â‚¬â€ the production of heat.
It is very important that the people of this country should not shut their eyes to the fact that, so far from there being a greater prospect of the solution of the problem than when, about twenty rears ago, Prof.Jevons raised the alarm, the prospect is now much smaller. In the meantime the capabilities of steel ropes, fluids in pipes, and electricity along conductors have been not only investigated, but practically tested, and found altogether wanting. And now it would seem that the storage of electricity must be added to the list.
Owens College, June 9
Your leading article in the Times of yesterday, on the storage of electricity, alludes to my having spoken of Niagara as the natural and proper chief motor for the whole of the North American Continent. I value the allusion too much to let it pass without pointing out that the credit of originating the idea and teaching how it is to be practically realised by the electric transmission of energy is due to Mr.C.W.Siemens, who spoke first, I believe, on the subject in his presidential address to the Iron and Steel Institute in March, 1877. I myself spoke on the subject in support of Mr.Siemens's views at the Institution of Civil Engineers a year later. In May, 1879, in answer to questions put to me by the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Electric Lighting, I gave an estimate of the quantity of copper conductor that would be suitable for the economical transmission of power by electricity to any stated distance; and, taking Niagara as example, I pointed out that, under practically realisable conditions of intensity, a copper wire of half an inch diameter would suffice to take 26,250 horse-power from waterwheels driven by the Fall, and (losing only 20 per cent, on the way) to yield 21,000 horse-power at a distance of 300 British statute miles; the prime cost of the copper amounting to 60,000l., or less than 3l. per horse-power actually yielded at the distant station.
The University, Glasgow, June 9
IF you do me the honour to publish a letter which I wrote to you yesterday regarding the electric transmission of energy it will be seen that I thoroughly sympathise with Prof.Osborne Reynolds in his aspirations for the utilisation of Niagara as a motor, but that neither Mr.Siemens nor I agree with him in the conclusion which he asserts in his letter to you, published in the Times of to-day, that electricity has been tried and found wanting as a means for attaining such objects. The transmission of power was not the subject of my letter to you published in the Times of the 9th inst., and Prof.Reynolds' disappointment with M.Faure's practical realisation of electric storage, because it does not provide a method of porterage superior to conduction through a wire, is like being disappointed with an invention of improvements in water cans and water reservoirs because the best that can be done in the way of movable water cans and fixed water reservoirs will never let the water-carrier supersede water-pipes wherever water-pipes can be laid.
The 1 1/2 oz. of coal cited by Prof.Osborne Reynolds as containing a million of foot-pounds stored in it is no analogy to the Faure accumulator containing the same amount of energy. The accumulator can be re-charged with energy when it is exhausted, and the fresh store drawn upon when needed, without losing more than to or 15 per cent, with arrangements suited for practical purposes. If coal could be unburned Ã¢â‚¬â€ that is to say, if carbon could be extracted from carbonic acid by any economic process of chemical or electric action, as it is in nature by the growth of plants drawing on sunlight for the requisite energy Ã¢â‚¬â€ the result would be analogous to what is done in Faure's accumulator.
The University, Glasgow, June 11
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
The Electric Railway in Paris
I have within the last few days received a letter from a friend in Paris, who writes that he had last week travelled on the electric railway in that city. There is still much, he adds, to be done before it can be brought into general use; but nevertheless the train moved satisfactorily. There were fifty-four passengers in the carriage, which was propelled by a large Gramme machine and 160 cells of Faure's battery. The experiments are to be recommenced very shortly with a new motor by M.de Meritens, and a Faure's battery.
41, Grosvenor Place, S.W., June 16
CONVERSAZIONE AT KING'S COLLEGE
ON Saturday, July 2, a brilliant and successful conversazione, given by the Council and the Academical Staff of King's College, brought to a conclusion the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the College. In the afternoon H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, accompanied by H.R.H. the Princess of Wales, distributed the College prizes to successful students, and the College rooms were converted into tastefully decorated drawing-rooms and picture galleries, in which were exhibited many very choice pictures and works of art.
The library was furnished with microscopes which had been lent by members of the Microscopic Society. The large entrance hall and the front of the College were brilliantly lighted by three Crompton electric lights, which burnt with remarkable steadiness throughout the evening. In the scientific department, the museum of King George III contains an unrivalled collection of mechanical and physical apparatus, and is especially rich in apparatus of historic interest. The nucleus of the collection was presented to the College by Her Majesty the Queen in 1843, when the museum was opened by Prince Albert, who then witnessed some of the experiments of Sir Charles Wheatstone on the electric telegraph. Important additions have been made to the collection of apparatus by the Professors of Natural Philosophy, and at his death Sir Charles Wheatstone's valuable collection was bequeathed to the museum. Among the interesting features in the museum are: calculating machines of Cavendish and others, Appoldie centrifugal pump, Newcomen's model of his steam-engine, original forms of Daniell's battery, Siberian loadstone used for his induction spark by Faraday, original Wheatstone's bridge, early forms of stereoscope, early forms of electrical machines, polar clocks and shadow clocks, De Kempelen's talking machine.
From its foundation in 1868 the Physical Laboratory, now called the Wheatstone Laboratory, has been under the direction of Prof. W. Grylls Adams. Among the interesting apparatus exhibited in this department were the Wheatstone Collection of electrical apparatus for exhibition in Paris, dynamo-electric machines, diffraction spectra, an optical bench, showing interference of light, measuring polariscopes, with universal motions for the exact measurement of crystals, and vacuum tubes in great variety, including a very beautiful coronet. The great event of the evening in the Physical Department was the exhibition for the first time in England of the Faure's secondary battery or reservoir of electricity. Two boxes of this battery, which had been previously charged from a dynamo-electric machine, and had then been brought to the College, were capable of heating and keeping heated to bright redness a platinum wire 2 metres long and 1 millimetre in diameter. Six boxes were found to be sufficient to cause Swan electric lamps to glow brilliantly. Twelve of these boxes supplied a pedestal of Lane-Fox lamps, supplied by the British Electric Light Company, and during the evening the Physical Lecture Theatre was brilliantly illuminated by twenty Swan lamps of the latest type with the current from twelve other boxes of Faure's secondary battery. It was shown that by means of these boxes of electricity the lighting of private houses by electricity was already an accomplished fact.
Faure's Secondary Battery
In your issue of last week you gave an account of the soiree held at King's College, London, on the evening of July 2, and in this account it is stated that "the great event of the evening was the exhibition for the first time in England of M. Faure's secondary battery."
At the soiree given by the Mayor of Nottingham on the evenings of June 30 and July 3 in connection with the opening of the College by H.R.H. Prince Leopold, I had the pleasure of exhibiting to large audiences one of M. Faure's new batteries. Sheets of lead were bent up into the form of shallow trays, one foot square and one inch deep; in each of these was placed a layer of red lead, then a layer of flannel, then a layer of red lead, and lastly another lead plate. These trays to the number of six were then piled one above the other, after being filled with dilute acid. The cells being connected in series, were polarised by a 10-cell battery of Grove's cells, and after twenty minutes' charging, had taken up a very large quantity of electricity. At a short lecture given during the evening the charged Faure battery was connected with a Gramme machine, and drove it round with considerable velocity for some minutes. After thus employing part of the charge the remainder was used for heating several inches of platinum wire, and for driving for a few seconds a simple form of magneto-electric engine. These experiments amply convinced those present of the practical character of M. Faure's invention. As I have not had the opportunity of examining one of the original batteries of the inventor, I was obliged to make up this experimental form. It is however a convenient form for lecture-room demonstration, as it permits the structure of the battery to be exhibited to an audience. The enormous superiority of M. Faure's cell over the old form of Plante cell is evident at once on experimenting with it.
J. A. Fleming
The University College, Nottingham, July 10
JOURNAL OF THE FRANKLIN INSTITUTE
STORED-UP ELECTRICITY: FAURE'S SECONDARY
A few weeks since the scientific world in Paris was deeply interested by a paper read before the Societe d'Encouragement de l'Industrie Nationale by M. Reynier, upon a new form of battery invented by M.Camille Fauve, who, following in the steps of M.Gaston Plante, had succeeded Ã¢â‚¬â€ according to M. Reynier Ã¢â‚¬â€ in devising a battery in which forty times as much electric energy may be stored up as could be done by the Plante pile, the result being that a large amount of force easily convertible into mechanical work, or adaptable for electric lighting, could be stored up in small and easily portable cells, could be transported from place to place, delivered from house to house, and that the great problem of a domestic electric lighting and power supply was thus solved.
M. Faure's secondary battery is an application of a new discovery to the very beautiful and well-known secondary pile of M. Gaston Plante, which our readers will remember consists of two plates of sheet lead separated from one another and immersed in a glass jar of diluted sulphuric acid; if these two plates are connected for a time with the terminals of a source of electricity such a dynamo-electric machine or a voltaic battery, oxidation and deoxidation take place on the two plates respectively, and after the exciting battery has been removed, the lead cell continues to give off a polarization current of electricity as long as the deoxidation and oxidation of the lead plates continue by their returning to their normal condition. It was from the first observed that secondary piles of this construction produced better results after having been charged and discharged a great many times, a fact due no doubt partly to the increase of surface produced by the roughening of the lead plates under the decomposition, but chiefly to the formation of lead peroxide in increasing quantities, which was alternately deposited and decomposed as the cell was charged by the battery and discharged by the polarization current.
M. Faure (whose name is well known in the scientific world as the inventor of the battery which bears his name, and in which the carbon element in a Bunsen's cell is made in the form of a bottle which contains the nitric acid) has recently introduced an important improvement to the Plante cell, by which its capacity is largely increased, so that an apparatus constructed upon his principle is capable of producing a much greater current than that given off by a secondary battery of the old construction and of the same size. As the capacity of a secondary battery, other things being equal, is due to the thickness of the layer of lead peroxide formed upon one of the lead plates, M.Faure conceived the idea of coating each of the plates with a thickness of red lead maintained in its place by a sheet of felt attached to the plate by means of lead rivets. Both plates having been similarly treated they are rolled together into a spiral, the felt performing the two-fold duty of separating the plates and holding on the coating of read lead. This couple is then immersed in acid contained in a cylindrical cell of lead and connected by its electrode to the poles of a dynamo-electric machine or voltaic battery, and after having been charged and discharged two or three times, the red lead coatings of the plates are found to have undergone a change, the one having been entirely transformed into peroxide of lead, while the other has been reduced to the metallic state, and as this result must be due to the oxidation of the red lead on the one plate and the deoxidation of that on the other, it would appear that what may be called the storage capacity of the apparatus depends upon the quantity of red lead carried by the plates.
There can be no doubt that in this way electricity may be "bottled up" and "stored" to an almost unlimited extent, and in this bottled up condition can be carried in reservoirs to a distance, there to be utilized until it is exhausted, just as a reservoir of compressed air, or a coiled up spring, may be carried for any number of miles, and can be made to give out power whenever required at a distant station. All this is true enough and physically feasible, but the whole commercial success or failure of such a scheme must depend, as all commercial schemes must depend, upon its practical utility.
If electrical energy has to be conveyed from one place to another, it is a matter of small commercial importance in the abstract whether it is conveyed by means of metallic conductors or stored up in reservoirs and carried by road or rail; in this the commercial question involved being very much the same as that of the supplying of water by pipes or by water carts. There can be no doubt, however, about which system is, save in exceptional cases, the most convenient, and unless it can be shown that the charging and transmission of storage reservoirs offers advantages upon economical grounds, or very substantial conveniences of application over the system of transmission by conductors, we cannot see that its commercial application upon a large scale can be as remunerative to its proprietors as its promoters would wish to make the public believe.
That M. Reynier should have infused an undue amount of enthusiasm into his paper read before the Societe d'Encouragement was natural, considering that he was describing for the first time results far in advance of anything of the same nature than had been achieved before, and it was perhaps pardonable that he should, for the greater glory of the Faure battery have depreciated the rapacity of that of Plante. But in justice to the latter gentleman, and also to arrive at a just appreciation of the real value of the new discovery, careful investigation and comparison between the two have to be instituted. This has been partially done by M. E. Hospitallier since M. Reynier read his paper, and the last number of our excellent conpemporary L'Eleciricien the results obtained are referred to, and the details of the experiments made are to be published in a succeeding number of the same periodical.
Criticising M. Reynier's paper, M. Hospitallier challenges several statements made in that communication. M. Reynier maintained that the Faure battery would give out 80 per cent, of the total power used in charging it. But as M. Hospitallier points out, under the best conditions not more than 90 per cent, of actual work can be transformed from mechanical into electrical energy by a dynamo-electric machine. M.Plante clearly demonstrated that his secondary battery could only give out 88 or 89 per cent, of the power charged into it, and as the difference between it and the Faure battery is one of degree and not of principle, it is not probable that a greater percentage than this could be obtained; possibly it would be less. Finally, a loss of 20 per cent, at least must be allowed for in converting the electrical power in the battery into mechanical force. Making allowances for all these losses it follows that the utmost useful work that can be got from the battery is 52.5 per cent, of the energy employed in charging it, while at the present time it is easy with the ordinary system of conductors to obtain 60 per cent. Passing on to the question of the power which can be stored up in the Faure battery, M. Hospitallier makes an important statement in reply to the assertion of M. Reynier, that this battery can store up forty times as much force as the Plants battery. In conjunction with M. Frank Geraldy, M. Hospitallier has conducted a series of experiments on the Plante battery. The details of these experiments will be published shortly, but the results are given as follows in J.Electrician: "Admitting on the one hand as correct the figures given by M. Reynier, that is to say, that a Faure battery, weighing 165 lbs., can give out one horse power during one hour, and on the other hand our experiments on the Plante batteries, the storage power of the Faure batteries varies from one and a half to three times the power of the Plante, according to conditions which we shall shortly publish. This result is very far from the forty-fold result given by M. Reynier, who obtained it no doubt from imperfect or badly-proportioned Plante batteries, and these results cannot consequently be accepted."
Nature 1881 September 8
THE Jubilee Meeting of the British Association has come to a close, and whether we take the test of work done, or of the numbers present as members or associates, it must be admitted that it has been a great success.
Opening Address By Sir W. Armstrong, C.B., D.C.L., LL.D., F. K.S., President Of The Section
"...It would greatly add to the utility of the Faure battery if its weight and size could be considerably reduced, for in that case it might be applicable to many purposes of locomotion. We may easily conceive its becoming available in a lighter form for all sorts of carriages on common roads, thereby saving to a vast extent the labour of horses. Even the nobler animal that strides a bicycle, or the one of fainter courage that prefers the safer seat of a tricycle, may ere long be spared the labour of propulsion, and the time may not be distant when an electric horse, far more amenable to discipline than the living one, may be added to the bounteous gifts which science has bestowed on civilised man."
Nature 1881 September 22
THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION REPORTS
On some Uses of Faure's Accumulator in connection with Lighting by Electricity, by Sir W.Thomson. Ã¢â‚¬â€ The largest use of Faure's accumulator in electric lighting was to allow steam or other motive power and dynamos to work economically all day, or throughout the twenty-four hours where the crcumstances were such as to render this economical, and storing up energy to be drawn upon when the light was required. There was also a very valuable use of the accumulator in its application as an adjunct to the dynamo, regulating the light-giving current and storing up an irregular surplus in such a manner that stoppage of the engine would not stop the light, but only reduce it slightly, and that there would always be a good residue of two or three hours' supply of full lighting power, or a supply for eight or ten hours of light for a diminished number of lamps. He showed an automatic instrument which he had designed and constructed to break and make the circuit between the Faure battery and the dynamo, so as automatically to fulfil the conditions described in the paper. This instrument also guarded the coils of the dynamo from damage, and the accumulator battery from loss, by the current flowing back, if at any moment the electro-motive force of the dynamo flagged so much as to be overpowered by the battery.
Journal of the Society of Arts 1881 November 25
Proceedings of the Society.
SECOND ORDINARY MEETING.
Wednesday, 23rd of November, 1881
The Paper read wasÃ¢â‚¬â€
THE STORAGE OF ELECTRICITY. By Sylvanus P. Thompson, B.A., D.Sc,
Professor of Experimental Physics in University College, Bristol.
In 1880, M.Camille Faure conceived the idea of constructing a secondary battery, in which, though the tedious process of "formation" by Plante's process is modified and shortened, the ultimate result is the same, namely, to produce upon lead plates, immersed in dilute sulphuric acid, a coating of peroxide of lead, that can readily be reduced to the loosely crystalline metallic condition. This M.Faure accomplishes by the device of giving to his leaden plates a preliminary coating of red lead (minium), made up into a paste with dilute acid, and painted upon the surface. At first he adopted the spiral form of cell, the two plates being separated by felt or leather. More recently the rectangular form has been reverted to. The present mode of construction is as follows: Ã¢â‚¬â€ Eleven sheets of lead of such thickness as to weigh about 2 lbs. to the square foot are cut to the size of 12 inches by 10 inches, an ear-piece being burned on at one corner. Or six sheets are taken; five of them being twice the above size, and folded double, in the way shown in Fig. 4.
These are painted thickly with red lead on both sides, and against each side is pressed a piece of felt, the face of which is also thickly coated with red lead; there being about 17 lbs. of lead and 25 lbs. of red lead altogether. These sheets are placed side by side in a water-tight case, alternate sheets being connected together by the projecting flaps. The general aspect of the cell is shown in Fig. 5. The cell is filled up with dilute acid; the total weight being about 50 lbs. When thus prepared, the cells are "formed" by a process of charging by means of the current of a dynamo-electric machine, the current being sent through them for six or seven days without intermission before they are ready for use. The red lead is reduced gradually on one side to the metallic state, and on the other assumes the condition of peroxide: but the cell does not attain its best condition for some weeks. As it is important that the electromotive force of the charging current should not much exceed that of the cells (2.38 volts), it is usual to charge a number of cells in series. The internal resistance of such cells is stated as being less than .01 ohm. The advantage of this system of construction is not confined to the savings in time of formation: there is a further advantage of thus obtaining a much thicker film of the working substance than in the Plante accumulator: though with the difference that the deposit of peroxide is not so regular in its structure. According to Sir William Thomson, a single cell of the spiral form weighing 75 kilogrammes (165 lbs.) can store 2,000,000 foot-pounds of energy, or one-horse power for one hour. Their action is more economical, however, when the charge is not drawn upon at this rapid rate. Economy in working is found to accompany slow and regular discharge. Five or six hours is a more economical time for discharge, and then the waste is believed not to amount to more than ten per cent. Sir William Thomson states, that the probable loss of energy in charging is 10 per cent., and in discharging 15 per cent.; but he thinks it will be advisable in practice to be satisfied with less perfect economy than this. According to Reynier, a Faure cell, containing 56 kilogrammes of lead, can store 210,000 kilogrammetres of electro-chemical energy; or at the rate of 375 kilogrammetres per kilogramme of lead, or 12.85 foot-pounds per pound of lead. According to M. Geraldy, the figure is slightly less, being only 3.28 kilogrammetres per kilogramme, or 10.76 footpounds per lb. Such a cell, when on short circuit can, I am informed, furnish for ten hours a current of 10 to 14 webers continuously.
M. Faure is now constructing larger cells, of which, by the kindness of Major Ricarde-Seaver, I am enabled to give the following details: Ã¢â‚¬â€ The leaden plates are about 17 inches long by 12 1/2 wide. About 50 pounds of red lead are used; and the sixteen sheets of lead themselves weigh about 20 lbs. The sheets which are to serve as positive electrodes are eight hundredths of an inch thick; those which are to serve as negative electrodes are four hundredths of an inch thick. After being painted with red lead they are folded up, first in parchment paper, and then in felt, and placed in a rectangular box, with narrow strips of indiarubber to prevent contact. Such a cell requires about 16 lbs. of dilute sulphuric acid to charge it. The total weight is about 135 lbs. for each cell. One of these cells, when placed on a circuit of small resistance, in which one of Ayrton and Perry's galvanometers was included, gave the following values of current: Ã¢â‚¬â€
For 8 hours 22 webers = 176 weber-hours.
4 " 21 " = 84 "
1 " 20 " = 20
1 " 19 " = 19
Total 14 hours. 229
or on an average over 20 webers continuously for 14 hours. The discharge went on after this for seven hours more, when it had stopped to five webers.