Passenger Ships and Cotton Cargoes.
“In the excellent editorial on passenger ships and cotton cargoes, in your issue of July 20,” writes Commander F. M. Barber of the United States Navy to The New York Tribune, “attention is called to the fact that not only is the cause of fire in cotton ships unknown, but there seems to be no satisfactory method of extinguishing it or of inspecting the cargo before putting it on board, and several passenger companies are solving the problem by declining to take cotton at all.
“ It appears to me that in these days of subdivision of ships into water-tight compartments it is becoming more and more feasible to supply apparatus which will extinguish any fire which may occur without damage to the cargo. Some seventeen years ago when I was an instructor at the United States torpedo station at Newport, R. I., the chemist, the late W. N. Hill and myself were much occupied with the manufacture of liquid carbonic acid for use as the motive power in torpedoes. We succeeded in making it in unlimited quantities, at a cost of about twenty cents per pound, and steel flasks were made for holding it by John Matthews of New York, manufacturer of soda water appliances. The gas is extracted from marble dust by sulphuric acid and compressed to a liquid by means of powerful pumps with the assistance of a low temperature. In the liquid form a pound occupies the space of a cube of about three inches on the side, or about twenty-seven cubicinches, and the liquid exerts a pressure of about 600 pounds per squa-e inch with the thermometer at forty-five degrees Fahrenheit and 1200 pounds per square inch with the thermometer at ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit. The flasks made by Matthews were tested to a pressure of 3200 pounds per square inch, and they held the liquid without leakage summer and winter.
“I was struck at this time with the feasibility of applying this substance to ships carrying soft coal, cotton, wool, jute, etc., and I delivered a lecture on this subject at the Boston Institute of Technology, which, however, attracted little attention. Since carbonic acid gas will not injure the most delicate fabrics or other goods, it is far superior to steam or water. Ordinary chemical fire extinguishers only generate a small amount of gas which is used to propel a stream of water to the fire ; but what is wanted in these cases of spontaneous combustion, or whatever they may be, is the gas and nothing else except air. My scheme is to have a flask of liquid carbonic acid for each compartment, with branch pipes leading to the bottom of the hold. Each pound of the liquid when liberated by means of a cock will expand to a gaseous cube of about thirty inches per side at ordinary temperature, and not only is a fire extinguishing gas produced, but intense cold at the same time, which is of itself a most important agent in putting out a fire.
“The objections to my scheme at the time of my lecture were that the flasks must be always under high pressure and the quantity of gas from each pound of liquid is relatively small; but we demonstrated at the torpedo station that perfectly safe flasks could be made, and to-day people are accustomed to higher pressures in steam, air and other motive power than they were at that time. The smallness of the compartments of the ships of the present day has done away with the other objection and it should be remembered also that the air of a compartment requires only to be largely mixed with carbonic acid gas and not to be entirely displaced to extinguish fire. After a fire is extinguished the gas should be pumped out of the compartment before men are allowed to enter. My idea would be to place the flasks on the outside of the ship near the rail for safety and have them suitably jacketed to protect them from extreme changes of temperature.”
REPORT OF THE SYRACUSE WATER Board.—The second annual report of the water board of Syracuse, N. Y., presents an interesting statement of the work done by the engineers and surveyors in locating the mouth of the pipe. Over 2800 soundings were taken, and a location for the pipeline has been definitely selected. The line of the conduit pipe from the lake to the city has been located, maps and profiles have been made of the same, together with the estimates of the amount of work to be done. The disbursements of the board for all purposes during the year were $142,045.18. The balance on deposit with the various banks of the city is $373,134-73 The report adds that the books of the board are open to public inspection at all seasonable hours. The outstanding obligations of the board, on August l, were $3,737 15“ It is the opinion of the board,” says the report in conclusion, “ that the favorable decision of the Court of Appeals has cleared the way of all obstacles except such ordinary impediments as are to be expected in an enterprise of such magnitude ; and that the citizens of Syracuse may confidently anticipate the enjoyment of a bountiful supply of unexceptionable water, so distributed as to meet all requirements.”
HOT AND COLD AIR ON Tap.—“Among the last of modern improvements,” says a contemporary, “ may safely be reckoned the proposal of a syndicate in Kansas City. It may be that instead of going to the Hub for our bright ideas we shall find a more fruitful field in searching the ‘ wild and woolly West.’ A report comes from that enterprising Missouri town, Kansas City, that a company has lieen formed that proposes to underlay the streets with pipes and furnish cold air to the citizens, and freeze ice in their refrigerators, and that, too, at a lower cost than ice is usually sold. To think of having our homes artificially cooled during the sweltering nights of summer, and being able to close our windows to the noise of the street and sleep under blankets with the thermometer outside at ninety degrees in the shade, to say nothing of a well-filled ice chest with the lumbering ice carts banished—it presents to the weary denizen of our metropolis a fairy land, to which the ‘ golden gates’could scarcely admit us. Truly, we must go West for wonderful achievements.”
A GREAT IRRIGATION Scheme.—Preliminary surveys have just been completed, says The Saratoga (Wyo.) Sun, for the big irrigation scheme to which A. J. Bothwell has of late devoted so much time ami money. Briefly stated, the plan contemplates putting under ditch 150,000 acres of land lying on the east side of the Platte, and between Bush creek and Pass creek. Water will be taken out of North Bush creek and the Medicine Bow river. Large ditches arc to be constructed and at the head of Lake creek, where the two systems unite, the capacity of the ditch is estimated at 1500 cubic feet of water a second.
In due time a company will be incorporated under the name of the Elk Mountain Land and Irrigation Company, with a large capital. Its object is to market over 70,000 acres of Union Pacific Railway titled lands ami to furnish water to an equal amount of government land. Upwards of 150,000 acres in the fertile Platte valley will thus be prepared for agricultural purposes, and homes provided for hundreds of families.