Ball Filling Material for Sulphuric Acid Towers

Posted By Richard Jefferson on 16 January 2015

Posted in The Vintage Machinery Almanac

This article was originally published in Electrochemical and Metallurgical Industry Publication of April 1907. Information within this article is therefore correct as of 1907. The publication of this material aims to provide historical insight on the subject and its place in industry.

Recently, we described the machine-made, perforated Guttmann hollow earthenware balls of the Deutsche Steinzeug Waffenfabrik, of Friedrichsfeld, which are extremely suitable as a filling material for sulphuric-acid towers.

In a recent issue of the Chemical Trade Journal, Mr. Rudolf Heinz gives the results of an English installation of these balls.

A set of chambers of a capacity of 96,000 cubic feet, working on spent oxide, was provided with a Gay-Lussac tower, 8 feet square and 40 feet high, and 4,560 pounds of sulphur were burnt daily. It was only with great difficulty that the charges could be maintained at this quantity, and the Gay-Lussac tower was insufficient for the work. Two towers were then inserted into the set; firstly, a round intermediate tower between the second and third chambers, 6 feet in diameter and 13 feet 9 inches high, filled with about 10,500 Guttmann's patent 4-inch balls, and, secondly, a round preliminary Gay-Lussac, 5 feet 6 inches in diameter, and 11 feet high, filled with about 6,500 of these balls. The result of this change was very remarkable indeed. The charges could be increased by 23.16 per cent, so that now 5,616 pounds of sulphur are burnt daily. The small preliminary Gay-Lussac tower, of which only 166 cubic feet were filled with balls, does almost the whole of the work, the gases issuing therefrom being nearly colorless.

The analysis of these gases showed a total acidity of 3.52 grains per cubic foot at the inlet, and 2.30 grains at the outlet of the preliminary Gay-Lussac tower. Crowder, in the Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry, 1891, p 303, gives the following data:

 Gay-Lussac Inlet  Gay-Lussac Outlet
New Dust Kilns  3.54  2.03
Lump Ore Kilns
 3.55  1.80

It is thus seen that the little ball Gay-Lussac has really been doing almost the whole of the work that is generally demanded from the usual large Gay-Lussac tower, and the effect in future will be that sulphuric acid works will be able to dispense with these costly and cumbersome pieces of apparatus. The Deutsche Steinzeug Waffenfabrik as manufacturer of the Guttmann hollow balls, is represented in this country by Fred Bertuch & Co. of New York City.

Image Credit: Internet Archive Book Images