Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/104

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dreds of miles from the source, with excellent economy—better economy, indeed, in respect to proportion of energy used to energy dissipated than almost anything known in ordinary mechanics and hydraulics for distances of hundreds of yards instead of hundreds of miles.

In answer to questions put to me in May, 1879,[1] by the Parliamentary Committee on Electric Lighting, I gave a formula for calculating the amount of energy transmitted, and the amount dissipated by being converted into heat on the way, through an insulated copper conductor of any length, with any given electromotive force applied to produce the current. Taking Niagara as example, and with the idea of bringing its energy usefully to Montreal, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, I calculated the formula for a distance of 300 British statute miles (which is greater than the distance of any of those four cities from Niagara, and is the radius of a circle covering a large and very important part of the United States and British North America), I found almost to my surprise that even with so great a distance to be provided for, the conditions are thoroughly practicable with good economy, all aspects of the case carefully considered. The formula itself will be the subject of a technical communication to Section A in the course of the meeting on which we are now entering. I therefore at present restrict myself to a slight statement of results:

1. Apply dynamos driven by Niagara to produce a difference of potential of 80,000 volts between a good earth connection and the near end of a solid copper wire of half an inch (1·27 centimetres) diameter, and 300 statute miles (483 kilometres) length.

2. Let resistance by driven dynamos doing work, or by electric lights, or, as I can now say, by a Faure battery taking in a charge, be applied to keep the remote end at a potential differing by 64,000 volts from a good earth-plate there.

3. The result will be a current of 240 webers through the wire taking energy from the Niagara end at the rate of 26,250 horse-power, losing 5,250 (or twenty per cent.) of this by the generation and dissipation of heat through the conductor and 21,000 horse-power (or eighty per cent, of the whole) on the recipients at the far end.

4. The elevation of temperature above the surrounding atmosphere, to allow the heat generated in it to escape by radiation and be carried away by convection is only about 20° centigrade; the wire being hung freely exposed to air like an ordinary telegraph-wire supported on posts.

5. The striking distance between flat metallic surfaces with difference of potentials of 80,000 volts (or 5,000 Daniell's) is (Thomson's "Electrostatics and Magnetism," § 340) only eighteen millimetres, and therefore there is no difficulty about the insulation.

  1. Printed in the "Parliamentary Blue-Book Reports of the Committee on Electric Lighting," 1879.