Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/567

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551
SKETCH OF SIR CHARLES WILLIAM SIEMENS.

William went to England in 1843 to dispose of the invention. In his lack of knowledge of the strange land, and his ignorance of our language, he made his first visit to an undertaker, thinking that he must be the proper person to take up, or "undertake," and push the new application. A call upon Mr. Elkington, who then controlled the gilding industry in England, was attended by a more satisfactory result, and Siemens went home so well paid for his trouble that he came back the next year with his chronometric regulator for steam-engines. This invention was less successful, commercially, than the other had been, but it made Siemens known to the engineering world, and it has been applied to the regulation of the great transit instrument at the Greenwich Observatory. The process of anastatic printing, another of the earlier inventions of the brothers, was made the subject of a lecture at the Royal Institution, by Faraday, in 1845. It is worthy of remark that the last lecture by Faraday at this Institution was on the advantages of the Siemens furnace. Another of the inventions of this period was the water-metre, which, according to Sir William Thomson, "exactly met an important practical requirement, and has had a splendid thirty years' success." The adoption of England as his home by William Siemens was determined by the fact that he found the patent laws of that country more favorable to the inventor than those of his own land.

Turning his attention to finding means for recovering the heat which is allowed to go to waste in engineering and manufacturing processes, William Siemens constructed a four horse-power steam-engine with regenerative condensers, which he set up, in 1847, in the factory of Mr. John Hicks at Bolton. This machine failed to become commercially successful; but Mr. Siemens, continuing his studies in the same direction, and having become acquainted and impressed with the dynamical theory of heat, read a paper before the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1853, "On the Conversion of Heat into Mechanical Effect," for which he obtained the Telford prize. In this paper he defined a perfect engine as one in which all the heat applied to the elastic medium is consumed in its expansion behind a working piston, leaving no portion to be thrown into a condenser or into the atmosphere, and advised that expansion should be carried to the utmost possible limit. Two years afterward he exhibited two steam-engines, with regenerative condensers, at the Paris Exhibition.

The greatest of the inventions with which the name of Siemens is associated is that of the regenerative furnace for glass-making and metallurgical operations, which he worked out in connection with his brother Frederick, who was also his pupil. By its means the defects of the discharge of the products of combustion at a very high temperature, and in an incompletely combined state, are remedied; a nearer approach is made to saving and applying to the work all the heat which the combustibles are capable of affording; a very high temperature is