The Iron and Steel Institute


    THE Iron and Steel Institute has this year resolved to revisit the place of its birth—in other words, the young and flourishing town of Middlesbrough-on-Tees, where the association was founded some fifteen years ago. The arrangements for its reception and for visits to different works in the neighbourhood (though marred in practice by a grievous disaster) left nothing to be desired; but the papers, though sufficient in number and value for practical metallurgists, offer very little that is of interest to the student of science generally. Hence our notice will be brief. It is somewhat to be regretted (especially seeing that the Eston Works formed the first day's excursion) that no paper was devoted to the development of the Thomas-Gilchrist or “basic” process of steel-making. This process has been widely and successfully adopted in Germany, but has made little progress as yet in the Cleveland district, for which it may be said to have been specially designed, and where it was first put in practice. On this disappointment, however, it is useless to dwell. Passing over three adjourned discussions—on tin-plate making, coal-washing machinery, and the manufacture of anthracite pig iron respectively—we come to the new papers prepared for the meeting. There were two dealing with the important manufacture of coke: one by Mr. R. Dixon, on the Simon-Carve's process, and one by Mr. Jameson, on the process which bears his name. We hail these as a further assurance that the barbarous, costly, and offensive beehive oven, which still continues to disgrace our English coking districts, is far on the high road to extinction. In Belgium it has altogether ceased to exist, being superseded by more rational methods; and the same will soon be the case for the rest of the Continent. The two papers before us do not, however, con tribute very much to our knowledge. Mr. Dixon's deals simply with the cost of erecting ovens on the particular system described, which cost is unfortunately high, and on the yield and quantity of coke produced, which are both satisfactory. Some difficulty is experienced with the bituminous coal of Durham in keeping the valve-boxes and mains free from pitch; but this, it is hoped, will shortly be overcome. He also describes a method just introduced of heating the air required for combustion by the waste gases passing away from the ovens, by which the time needed for coking is expected to be largely reduced. Mr. Jameson's system, as our readers will remember, consists in burning the coal from the top in a closed oven, and withdrawing the gases, as they form, from the bottom, by means of an exhausting apparatus. These waste gases are condensed, and give valuable results in ammonia, tar, &c. The amount of this yield has been largely increased, since former papers were read on the subject, by new extracting and condensing appliances, and the percentage of coke made appears also to have improved. One great advantage of the system is that any beehive oven can be adapted to it at a co t of some 10l. or 15l. The oils extracted, the value of which had been questioned, find a ready sale at 2l to 3l. per ton.

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    The Iron and Steel Institute . Nature 28, 533 (1883).

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