Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/242

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a fairly large one, but it contains only 439,740 foot-pounds of available energy. If the accumulator ram descended in one minute the horse power developed during that time would be 13»3, and until again pumped up its function would cease. Is so small a reservoir worth much? The correct answer to this question depends upon the surrounding circumstances. In the case of any general system of hydraulic power transmission it is certain that there will be very large and frequent variations in the combined demand for power, the periods of approximate maximum rarely exceeding in the aggregate 2 or 3 hours a day (see fig. 2). Where the area of supply is very extensive there are further subsidiary variations in small sections of the area. The main features of the combined load curves are fairly constant, but the local peaks are very erratic. Such conditions are favourable to the extensive use of accumulators. When comparing the economy of hydraulic machinery which works intermittently, such as cranes and hoists, with other systems the effect of the hydraulic accumulator in reducing the maximum horse power required is often neglected. In consequence the comparison is vitiated, because the minimum cost of running a central station depends to a great extent upon the

FIG. 2.

maximum demand, even though the maximum may be required only during a few minutes of the day. In the hydraulic system accumulators at the central stations perform the two distinct functions of reducing the maximum load on the pumps which supply the demand, and regulating automatically the speed of the pumps as the demand varies from minute to minute. In any large system where a number of pumping units are required they also allow a sufficient interval of time to start any additional units. Accumulators connected to the mains at a considerable distance from the central station reduce the variations of pressure, and the size of mains required for a given supply of power, and therefore have a most important influence on the economy of distribution. The mechanical efficiency of hydraulic accumulators is very high, being from 95% to 98 %, and they are practically indestructible.

When designing central stations the aim should be to employ pumping engines of such capacity that they can be worked as nearly as possible continuously at about their maximum output; the same consideration should, in the main, determine the size of the pumping units in a station where more than a single unit is employed. With a. number of units, each can be worked, when in use, at or near the most economical speed. Moreover, reserve plant is necessary if the supply of power is to be constant, and where the units are many the actual reserve required is less than where the units are few.

An effect of the multiplication of power units is to increase the capital outlay; indeed, it may be stated quite generally that economy in working and maintenance cannot be obtained without a larger capital outlay than would be required for a simpler and less economical plant. A high degree of economy estimated on financial data-the ultimate base on which these practical questions rest-can only be obtained in large installations where the averaging effect of the combination of a large number of comparatively small intermittent demands for power is greatest. The term load factor, since it was first coined by Colonel R. E. Crompton in 1891, has come into common use as an expression of the relation between the average and the maximum output from any central source of sup ly. No argument is required to show that a given central station pfant working continuously at its maximum speed day and night all the year round, say for 8760 hours in a year, should produce the power more cheaply per unit, not only as to the actual running cost, but also as to the capital or interest charges, than the same plant running on the average at the same speed for, say, one-third the time, or 2920 hours. In this case the load-factor 2920/8760=-533, or 33-370 %. The saving on the whole expenditure per unit is not in direct proportion to an increase in the load-factor, and its effect on the various items of expenditure is extremely variable. The influence is greatest on the capital charges, and it has no influence at all, or may even have a detrimental effect, on some items; for instance, the cost of repairs per unit of output may be increased by a high loadfaetor. Its effect on the coal consumption depends very much on the kind and capacity of the boilers in use; on whether the engines are condensing or non-condensing; on the hours of work of the engine staff, &c. The economic value of the load-factor is of great importance in every installation, but its influence on the cost of supply varies at each central station, and must be separately determined. There is a load-factor peculiar to each use for which the power is supplied, and the whole load-factor can only be improved by the combination of different classes of demands, which difier in regard to the time of day or season at which they attain their maximum. It is in this respect that the great economy of a public distribution of power is most apparent, though there is also, of course, a direct economy due simply to the presumably large size of the central stations of a public supply. Demands for power of every kind have unfortunately a tendency to arise at the same time, so that in the absence of storage of power there seems no prospect of the load-factors for general supply of power in towns exceeding, in the most favourable conditions, 40%. The load-factor of most public hydraulic power supplies is considerably under 30 %. It is questionable, however, whether a very high load-factor conduces to economy of working expenses as a whole in any general supply of energy. The more continuous the supply during the twenty-four hours of the day the greater is the difficulty of executing repairs, and the greater the amount of the reserve plant required. In all central station work where fluctuating loads have to be dealt with it is most important that there should be ample boiler power. In a. comprehensive system of power supply demand arises in a very sudden and erratic manner, and to meet this by forcing the boilers involves greater waste of coal than keeping steam up in sufficient reserve boilers. For this purpose boilers with large water capacity, such as the Lancashire, are preferable to the tubular type, if sufficient space is available; Superheated steam and also thermal storage are advantageous. Feed water heaters or economizers should always be used, all steam and feed pipes should be carefully protected from radiation, and the pipe fianges should be covered; in short, to secure good results in coal consumption every care must be taken to minimise the stand-by losses which are such serious items in central station economy when the load-factor is low. Though hydraulic power has the peculiar advantage, as regards coal consumption, that it is the speed of the engines which varies with an intermittent demand, nevertheless at the London stations it has been found that during a year's working only from 60 to 75% of the coal efficiency of trial runs of the engines can be obtained-i.e. at least 25 % of the coal is wasted through the stand-by losses and through the pumping engines having to run at less than full power.