G. H. Buchanan
1916 Journal of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry  
585 the coking industry and does not alone have t o pay interest on the investment. This is borne also by the coke (the main product), gas, tar, and benzol, the last two of rapidly increasing importance due t o the stimulated demand for domestic coal-tar products and the enhanced price of gasoline. So the capital requirement really does not enter into the present discussion so long as there is some product t o pay t h e interest demanded. The rapid installation of the by-product oven is proof
more » ... uct oven is proof enough t h a t the interest on investment is forthcoming. By-product ammonia, therefore, fortified b y the other products produced simultaneously, is in a position to withstand the rigors of market. It yet remains to be demonstrated that ammonia from any other artificial source can be made t o pay interest on investment under American conditions. By-product ammonia may lack the further characteristic, elasticity, desirable in a source of fixed nitrogen for emergency purposes, may not be susceptible of a n immediate, enormously increased production. But this quality is lacking t o any proposal which does not involve the erection of industrial plants t o lie idle during those periods when there is no emergency; or if not lying idle, t o operate under artificial conditions, affording no profit and therefore requiring public subsidy. T h a t it is susceptible of enormous increase, should the people demand such an increase, becomes evident when it is recalled t h a t there are enormous quantities of low-grade coal produced as a by-product in coal mining. other quantities available for mining, and immense 6eds of lignites and peat, practically untouched, all of which, on distillation, yield ammonia and other by-products; the residual carbon, valuable for fuel or gas production, and large volumes of gas for fuel or power production, is available for t h e manufacture of additional great sources of ammonia b y fixation methods. I n this connection it should be added t h a t by-product gas as a source of power for the electrical fixation of nitrogen has the advantage over water power t h a t by-product ovens can he erected and put into operation in a much shorter time than can the usual stream be dammed and its water power developed. Likewise, coal as a power producer is much more efficiently used when it is first converted into gas and the gas used in gas engines, effecting a greal saving over the steam engine-a practice which, if instituted, would make available the ammonia and other by-products of the coal now used for power production. Finally, as an extreme though visionary measure, a t the same time one of enormous value t o the public and one t h a t should be looked forward t o by the public as an end t o be striven for, the unrestricted use of bituminous coal as a fuel could be prohibited by public enactment and the universal use of coke or gas encouraged, thus conserving t o t h e public the enormous aggregate wastage now existing in present methods of using coal. Such an enactment, it is reported, has been in effect in Germany since 1914. It is needless t o compute the quantity of ammonia which thus would be made available for all uses or t o speculate on the effect on American agriculture which such a supply of cheap and valuable fertilizer would have. As preparedness measures let us advocate those things which will work for the good of the people as a whole. The salient feature of the foregoing is t h a t it is a conservation measure affording profits under normal conditions and therefore not requiring a public subsidy to guarantee profits. Difficulties which appear in connection with it should not be permitted t o prevail against the considerations which commend it. There is no conflict between true preparedness and true conservation since there can be no true preparedness with which conservation does not go hand in hand; and both are only applied common sense. T h a t nation is best prepared for any emergency whose people are united and are working together t o obtain the best possible returns from their common natural resources and labors. Any preparedness measure which does not have first consideration €or conservation, for t h e welfare of the people as a whole, should be regarded with suspicion. It is apparent from the above that we have a t hand a source of fixed nitrogen adequate for normal times and capable of immense expansion in case of emergency. Let us then not hurry into the adoption of measures which later may come to be a source of humiliation. Let us rather with diligence and with the welfare of the nation in mind, investigate in the scientific way, in our laboratories and mills, these questions about which there is doubt and which demand no instantaneous decision. The atmosphere doubtless must be looked t o ultimately t o supply combined nitrogen for human needs. Progress t o the present in that field, marked as it is, should only inspire investigation, and not acceptance of the position t h a t the problem of combining nitrogen is solved. It is not solved. From our point of view it can be regarded as solved only when the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen becomes commercially feasible under the conditions that normally exist in this country.
doi:10.1021/i500007a002 fatcat:w3xueh2gerbblf2kqauj3wcs6i