The posisble purification of Pittsfield, Mass., sewage by electricity is no new thought in this much electrified city, but a paragraph in Mayor Crosby’s inaugural has called more general attention to it, and led us to read more carefully than we otherwise might an article in The North British Advertiser by I. N. Rawlins, which, although it treats mainly of sewage purification by “ electrified sea water,” which would probably be impracticable here,affords suggestions that may be of much local value. Mr. Rawlins thinks that the direction of iaie sanitary effort to the purification of town sewage by chemical agencies, rather than to its utilization, has led to more or less costly experiments with little practical benefit ; but his article shows that they have been of great benefit, not only the benefit that the foundation wall is to the superstructure, but much more. He states that “ electrolysis,” or the passage of a powerful electric current from a dynamo through liquid sewage alone, has been tried with no very satisfactory results, lie cites as an instance the experiment at Salford in 1890. In that case the liquid sewage was made to run along a conduit in which were plates connected with the poles of a dynamo. The current precipitated the foreign matter from the water, which ran clear; but the process required skilled attendance, besides other expenses. To treat 10,000,000 gallons in twenty-four hours required 400 horse-power in dynamo. This would be rather costly for Pittsfield as a beginning ; but not absolutely ruinous. On the foundation of such an experiment the Pittsfield talent now, and likely to be, devoted to electric study, ought to be able Jo devise something nearly perfect before the city is required by law to abandon its present method of disposing of its sewage.
But Mr. Rawlins further tells us that these experiments which “were of lit tie benefit,” led to the discovery by a French gentleman of the rapid and complete purification of the most contaminated sewage by adding electrified sea water in comparatively small quantities. He cites several instances in which the foulest matter which could be prepared was made absolutely pure by the use of electrolyzed sea water so that it emitted not the slightest odor and showed no other indications of impurity, ft has been also successfully used to purify some of the unhealthiest piles of buildings, six stories high in Havre. The same experiment has been tried in the town of Brewster in Massachusetts, where works have been erected that treat 30,000 gallons of sewage daily, removing all odor and all disease germs. If this is true—and there is no reason to doubt it—the problem of the disposal of sewage within a reasonable distance of sea water is splved. The question now is, how to extend that solution to the interior. The effectiveness of the sea water is attributed to its chemical ingredients, and especially to that deadliest enemy of all disease-microbes, chlorine, intensified by electricity. It is impossible to make or obtain chlorine, or some substitute for it, cheap enough to render its use possible in purifying the sewage and the unhealthfu! buildings of interior towns and cities? There is a problem for the young electricians and chemists of Berkshire.