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Low Temperature Carbonisation1

Nature volume 110, pages 718719 (25 November 1922) | Download Citation



THE report of the Fuel Research Board for the years 1920–21 on “Low Temperature Carbonisation” has been awaited with interest in many quarters because the subject has been much debated, and it was known that experiments were being carried out by Sir George Beilby and his staff at the Greenwich experimental station. On one hand, the process has been spoken of in terms of unrestricted enthusiasm and optimism as providing a simple and general solution of the smoke problem through the smokeless solid fuel which was to be produced, and as yielding large supplies of liquid fuel for naval and other purposes through its promised high yields of tar. On the other hand, critics of the process have indicated some shortcomings. The gas yield is small, and the process of carbonisation as carried on at higher temperatures in the gasworks is paid for mainly by the large volume of gas which can carry a much higher price per thermal unit than a solid fuel because each thermal unit is worth so much more in use. Again, one of the principal by-products of carbonisation—ammonia—can be obtained only in comparatively small quantity by low temperature carbonisation, and the tars are much less valuable by current standards than those produced at higher temperatures because they lack aromatic constituents and are deficient in some other respects.

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