exercised in the application of refuse fuel to steam-raising. When its value as a low-class fuel was first recognized, the idea was disseminated that the refuse of a given population was of itself sufficient to develop the necessary steam-power for supplying that population with the electric light. The economical importance of a combined destructor and electric undertaking of this character naturally presented a somewhat fascinating stimulus to public authorities, and possibly had much to do with the development both of the adoption of the principle of dealing with refuse by fire, and of lighting towns by electricity. However true this phase of the question may be as the statement of a theoretical scientific fact, experience so far does not show it to be a basis upon which engineers may venture to calculate, although, as will be seen later, under certain circumstances of equalized load, which must be considered upon their merits in each case, a well-designed destructor plant can be made to perform valuable commercial service to an electric or other power-using undertaking. Further, when a system, thermal or otherwise, for the storage of energy can be introduced and applied in a trustworthy and economical manner, the degree of advantage to be derived from the utilization of the waste heat from destructors will be materially enhanced.
The composition of house refuse, which must obviously affect its calorific value, varies considerably in different localities, according to the condition, habits and pursuits of the Composition and quantity of refuse. people. Towns situated in coal-producing districts invariably yield a refuse richer in unconsumed carbon than those remote therefrom. It is also often found that the refuse from different parts of the same town varies considerably—that from the poorest quarters frequently proving of greater calorific value than that from those parts occupied by the rich and middle classes. This has been attributed to the more extravagant habits of the working classes in neglecting to sift the ashes from their fires before disposing of them in the ash-bin. In Bermondsey, for example, the refuse has been found to possess an unusually high calorific value, and this experience is confirmed in other parts of the metropolis. Average refuse consists of breeze (cinder and ashes), coal and coke, fine dust, vegetable and animal matters, straw, shavings, cardboard, bottles, tins, iron, bones, broken crockery and other matters in very variable proportions according to the character of the district from which it is collected. In London the quantity of house refuse amounts approximately to 1¼ million tons per annum, which is equivalent to from 4 cwt. to 5 cwt. per head per annum, or to from 200 to 250 tons per 1000 of the population per annum. Statistics, however, vary widely in different districts. In the vicinity of the metropolis the amount varies from 2.5 cwt. per head per annum at Leyton to 3.5 cwt. at Hornsey, and to as much as 7 cwt. at Ealing. In the north of England the total house refuse collected, exclusive of street sweepings, amounts on the average to 8 cwt. per head per annum. Speaking generally, throughout the country an amount of from 5 cwt. to 10 cwt. per head per annum should be allowed for. A cubic yard of ordinary house refuse weighs from 12¼ to 15 cwt. Shop refuse is lighter, frequently containing a large proportion of paper, straw and other light wastes. It sometimes weighs as little as 7¼ cwt. per cubic yard. A load, by which refuse is often estimated, varies in weight from 15 cwt. to 1½ tons.
The question how a town’s refuse shall be disposed of must be considered both from a commercial and a sanitary point of view. Various methods have been practised. Sometimes the Refuse disposal. household ashes, &c., are mixed with pail excreta, or with sludge from a sewage farm, or with lime, and disposed of for agricultural purposes, and sometimes they are conveyed in carts or by canal to outlying and country districts, where they are shot on waste ground or used to fill up hollows and raise the level of marshland. Such plans are economical when suitable outlets are available. To take the refuse out to sea in hopper barges and sink it in deep water is usually expensive and frequently unsatisfactory. At Bermondsey, for instance, the cost of barging is about 2s. 9d. a ton, while the material may be destroyed by fire at a cost of from 10d. to 1s. a ton, exclusive of interest and sinking fund on the cost of the works. In other cases, as at Chelsea and various dust contractors’ yards, the refuse is sorted and its ingredients are sold; the fine dust may be utilized in connexion with manure manufactories, the pots and pans employed in forming the foundations of roads, and the cinders and vegetable refuse burnt to generate steam. In the Arnold system, carried out in Philadelphia and other American towns, the refuse is sterilized by steam under pressure, the grease and fertilizing substances being extracted at the same time; while in other systems, such as those of Weil and Porno, and of Defosse, distillation in closed vessels is practised. But the destructor system, in which the refuse is burned to an innocuous clinker in specially constructed furnaces, is that which must finally be resorted to, especially in districts which have become well built up and thickly populated.
Various types of furnaces and apparatus have from time to time been designed, and the subject has been one of much experiment and many failures. The principal towns in Types of destructors. England which took the lead in the adoption of the refuse destructor system were Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Heckmondwike, Warrington, Blackburn, Bradford, Bury, Bolton, Hull, Nottingham, Salford, Ealing and London. Ordinary furnaces, built mostly by dust contractors, began to come into use in London and in the north of England in the second half of the 19th century, but they were not scientifically adapted to the purpose, and necessitated the admixture of coal or other fuel with the refuse to ensure its cremation. The Manchester corporation erected a furnace of this description about the year 1873, and Messrs Mead & Co. made an unsatisfactory attempt in 1870 to burn house refuse in closed furnaces at Paddington. In 1876 Alfred Fryer erected his destructor at Manchester, and several other towns adopted this furnace shortly afterwards. Other furnaces were from time to time brought before the public, among which may be mentioned those of Pearce and Lupton, Pickard, Healey, Thwaite, Young, Wilkinson, Burton, Hardie, Jacobs and Odgen. In addition to these the “Beehive” and the “Nelson” destructors became well known. The former was introduced by Stafford and Pearson of Burnley, and one was erected in 1884 in the parish yard at Richmond, Surrey, but the results being unsatisfactory, it was closed during the following year. The “Nelson” furnace, patented in 1885 by Messrs Richmond and Birtwistle, was erected at Nelson-in-Marsden, Lancashire, but being very costly in working was abandoned. The principal types of destructors now in use are those of Fryer, Whiley, Horsfall, Warner, Meldrum, Beaman and Deas, Heenan and Froude, and the “Sterling” destructor erected by Messrs Hughes and Stirling.
Fig. 1.—Fryer’s Destructor.
The general arrangement of the destructor patented by Alfred Fryer in 1876 is illustrated in fig. 1. An installation upon this principle consists of a number of furnaces or cells, usually Fryer’s. arranged in pairs back to back, and enclosed in a rectangular block of brickwork having a flat top, upon which the house refuse is tipped from the carts.
- Patent No. 3125 (1876).