The Recent Work of the Cataract Construction Company


    SOME arrangements recently made by the Cataract Construction Company show that the works are extending in a very satisfactory manner. The Niagara Falls Paper Company is now well under way. They make paper from wood pulp, and a large amount of power is used for grinding the trees down into pulp. They have fixed turbines in their own wheel-pit, and take water from the Cataract Construction Company's canal, and pass it after use into the tunnels belonging to this Company. The turbines drive a vertical shaft which, at the surface of the ground, is geared by bevel wheels to the main shaft, on which are the pulp grinders. This is the only case likely to occur where the power is used directly. In all other cases it is likely to be transmitted electrically. The first electrical application is to the works of the Pittsburgh Reduction Company for the manufacture of aluminium. The Niagara Falls Power Company has undertaken to supply them with continuous current at 160 volts to the extent of 7000 horse-power. The first 1500 horse-power is now being put in. In order to do this, Prof. Forbes has arranged to carry the alternating current by two circuits in two phases. This is the character of current generated by the dynamos. At the works, 2500 feet from the powerhouse, the current is to be transformed from 2000 volts to 115 volts alternating. It is then passed through three of the commutating machines, like those shown by Schuckert and others at the Frankfort Exhibition of 1891. These are continuous current machines, each with four rings attached to certain bars of the commutator. The alternating current is passed to these rings by brushes; the armature revolves synchronously with the generator in the power-house and with the turbine. The other brushes, which rub on the commutator, give off continous current to the aluminium baths at 160 volts, the E.M.F. being (in normal conditions) raised in its change form alternating to continuous current in the ratio of √2: 1. A shunt direct current with variable resistance in the circuit excites the field magnets. It is found that the electromotive force of the direct current can thus be regulated. The explanation of this remarkable fact has been worked out by Mr. Steinmelz. The whole of this plant, transformers, commutating machines, and switchboard was tendered for by different firms, and the bid of the General Electric Company has been accepted; 33 per cent. of spare plant is held in reserve. The dynamos and power-house switch-board, on the other hand, are in the hands of the Westinghouse Company. It is expected that both types of machinery will be in operation in the course of a few months.

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