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How Science Is Boring Holes in the Earth's Crust and Tapping the Fires That Rage Underneath to Take , the Place of Our Fast Diminishing Beds of Coal I Vt ^ ~ " Cross Section of a Volcano Show ing the Crater Pipe Through Which Molten Rock, Steam fend Other Material Is Forced Up from the Subterranean Fires of Oig ?arth. WILL the diminishing supply of the world's csal and oil compel man kind to draw upon the fires of Hades to run bis factories and warm hi3 \omes? Already the Italians are doing it.' The Hades of the ancients was located "below"?underground. It occupied a sub terranean arjea in the region of Italy and Sicily. The fact in this regard w<to un mistakable, inasmuch as in that neighbor hood the internal fires in many places penetrated v upward through the crust of the earth, producing the alarming phe nomena which terrified the ancients. The three great "burning mountains"? Vesuvius, Stromboli and Etna?were then, as they are to-day. the principal outlets of subterranean fire. Stromboli's crater was believed by the ancients to be the main entrance to Hades. ! To-day the Italians are boring for vol canic steam on the flanks of Vesuvius and Etna. They are utilizing it for driving turbines, to produce electricity for power, lighting, and heating. Dr. Henry S, Washington, of the Geo physical Laboratory at Washington, says: "The utilisation of subterranean beat and volcanic steam for the generation of else trie power Is one ot the most Interesting, and per haps one of the most Im portant achievements of modern engineering. In my belief It is only a question ot time when the energy of active or partly active volcanoes will be har nessed for Industrial and other usefuj purposes. The lt?iian? have l.ed the way It is up to us Americans to try our bano ai developing subterranean sources of power whicb may prove a blessing of Incalculable value to future generations of mankind and possibly even to the present generation.' Highly successful experiments or this kind have already been made in Tuscany, south of the ancient Etruscan city of Vol terra, where, over an area of forty. square miles, volcanic activity manifests Itself by num erous 'steam wells called puf fing holes These holes evident ? ly go down to great depths. They emit vigorous jets of live 'steam; but some of them form little lakelike craters full ot boiling water Until comparatively recent yean? the district In question was not inhabited, its suggestions of the infernal being regarded a* so obvious as to render It unsuitable for residential purposes. Now. however. It has a number of thriving towns, which are lighted and supplied with power by elec tricity derived from volcanic steam. .This transformation was due originally to the discovery, made over a century ago, that the water forced up from the bowels of the earth in the form of steam con tained boric acid?a very valuable com mercial iiioduct., inasmuch as at that time ijearly all of the world's supply of borax was obtained from Thibet, being trans ported across the Himalayas by pack animals. Hence, the beginning of what was des tined to become a very Important and profitable industry. The wdter was evapo rated in iron caldrons, wood being used for fuel. For the boraclc acid thus ob tained there was a ready market, much of It being sold to the French glass factories. It was not long before an Italian en gineer named Ciaschi hit upon the idea of k increasing the number of puffing holes by drilling new onM-a scheme which has since been greatly- developed, with a cor respondingly augmented supply of water laden with boracic.acld Experience has proved that, no matter how many holes are drilled, the steam pressure at the mouths of previously existing ones con tinues undiminished. The ingenious but unfortunate Ciaschl lost his life by falling into one of the boiling springs which in this way he had created; but the tvork was continued by others, and in 1827, wood having become scarce and dear, a Frenchman, Count i' lnncois rl? l.arderel, solved that problem 4 One of the Boilers and It* Connected Piston Engine Over a Volcanic Steam Vent on the Slopes of Mount Vesuvius. How Steam Beds in Italy'* Volcanic Region Are Located by a Mega phone Horn and Microphones. by undertaking to dispense with fuel alto gether, ? With so much heat at hand, why burn wood? He constructed huge pans lined with lead into whicb water from the boil ing springe was drawn, and beneath the pans steam from the puffing Jioles was conducted, to accomplish evaporation. _ By this method, which la still in use, the out put of boric acid was greatly increased. Here was a tame volcano put to work for industrial purposes. But not until seventeen years ago did it occur to any body to harness it for power. Then it was ttiUt Prince Oinori Contl, head of the boric acid works, turned the steam from a puff ing hole into a piston engine, and lo! it drove Che engine most beautifully. Next year (1906) a bigger one was built, which operated a dynamo and lit with electricity the works at Larderello?the chief center of the boric acid industry That engine has been running ever since The next step, undertaken in 1010, was the building of a turbo-generator ol 250 kilowatts, *>hich furnished electric power to some of the company's widely-scattered plants and sent it over wires to Volterra, thirty miles distant. Thus Volterra, one of the moat ancient towns in the world, older by many centuries" than Rome, was flrst to draw electrical energy from a sub terranean source. During the war three turbogenerator units of 2,500 kilowatts each were built at Larderello, and to theBe a fourth has since been added. In order to avoid in jury to machinery by chemical salts, the volcanic steam Is not used direct, but is utilized as fuel to make steam from pure water. To resist the corrosive action of such chemicals the apparatus that handles the volcanic steam l? provided with pipes of aluminum. The electric current id generated at 4,000 volts and can be 'stepped up" to 40,000 From (he central station at Larderello It Is distributed at 16,0'V.t volts ro various points as far away as Volterrd (thirty miles), and a? 36,000 volts by overhead lines to Siena; thence to Florence (about fifty miles), to Leehorn, to Piomblno (where it furnishes power for a large steel plant), and to Massa. for use in pyrite mines. ?A larger power plant (10,000 kilowatts) is planned, to be established at Lace, in the same district, where volcanic steam in quantity is more readily obtainable than at Larderello. And, so far as can be seer., this Is only a beginning. The puffing holes and boiling springs are plentifully distributed along a belt of territory thirty miles In length. The whole region 1?_ volcanic, and geologists say that anciently it must have been the scene of great eruptive activity. The pufTing holes around Larderello yield, each one of them, from 6,600 to 30,800 pounds of steam an hour at a temperature as high as 366 degrees Fahrenheit. Eleven averaee borings mav be reckoned upon to deliver power equal to that obtainable from the burning of ten tons of coal per hour. The drilled holes, bored by a chisel like tool to a depth of 400 feet or more, fetch steam usually at about 60 feet. Thev are lined with iron tubes 8 Inches to 16 inches in diameter. When the Iron "casing" has been put down, and the Job is finished, a heavy cylindrical piece of steel Is dropped Into the tube and jerked suddenly upward by an electric winch. This seems to be equivalent to "shooting" an oil well: but the steam hole furnishes Its own explosive. When the eteel weight, which operates 'like a piston, is yanked upward. It Is fol lowed by a small volcanic eruption, great quantities of baling water, mud. stones, and other debris being thrown high into the air. The outburst lasts some minutes, but presently the eruption quiets down and the hole settles down to the business of emitting steam with a peculiar hissing * (C> IP".'J. by American Weekly. Inc. Larderello, A Section of the Volcanic Near Naples, Italy Power Plant at Steam ..y noise At (his it keeps righi on without intermission or diminution in the volume of steam delivered. Puffing holes, natural and artificial, observed during- * t?n*r period of years, seem to be as active as ever. Ft is supposed that all of them derive their "team from one volcanic source, far down In the earth's interior. Italy has almost no coal; ehe is obliged to imp ?rt nearly all of what she require? for her industries. Hence 'he discovery of a new source of energy has excited in that country most interested attention. Btna. Vesuvius and Stromboli together form a "battery" of volcanoes, and the eruptive sympathy they show would seem to indicate that all three draw their fires from a common source. When one of them breaks out the others usually show signs of activity. Etna and Vesuvius, however, erupt only intermittently; the latter in centuries before the birth of Christ was supposed to 'be extinct, and the army of Spartacus. the gladiator, actually occupied Its crater as a ready-made fore. Its out burst that overwhelmed Pompeii and Herculaneum occurred in 79 A. D. Stromboli is presumably too difficult a proposition to be tackled successfully, but In its immediate neighborhood are the Lipari Islands, really outcrops of the same volcano, which are fairly dotted with craterlets. puffing holes, and boiling springs. It seems not unlikely that on these islands, which are of considerable size, systematic borings may develop im portant sources of power. The success obtained by the Italians in harneaptng the steam wells of Tuscany has given encouragement to the belief that electrical power might he tterive-l from the volcano of Kilauea, on the island of Hawaii. It is a mountain 4.000 feet high, with a crater half a mile in diameter which con tains a lake of perpetual Are?a mass of molten lava that seethes, bubbles tumult uously, and constantly throws fountains 'of flame high into the air. Outside the rim of this devil's caldron Is a gentle slope covered with a crurft of hard lava. Dr. Henry S. Washington, of the Geophysical Laboratory (Washlnston, D. C.), who is an expert in volcanology, and Ureat Britain KigliU Koerved. The Volcano Vesuvius in Eruption and Wait ing in. the-Air*Billions of Horse Power m the Form of Steam and Heat. who recently made a special study of the volcano-electric developments In the Vol terra district. Is of opinion that steam might be obtained by boring through tbl* crust with diamond drills. The Hawaiian Islands are now obliged to import all thetr coal, mnch of it coming from Japan, and if Kilauea could be tapped 'for electrical power, it would mean mucb to the future of the Territory. Hitch your engine to a volcano! It la an idea that is gaining more and more at tention. In Sonoma County, Cal., is a fashionable pleasure resort called The Geysers, where there are hot springs which derive th?ir temperature from a volcanic source. The proprietor. J. D. Grant, is even now boring a 12-inch hole with which fie hopes to strike, some hundreds of feet down, a supply of perpetual steam for generating electricity to furnish all the light and heat he wants. In the- Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming) the flames of the interior flres rage only a short distance beneath the earth's surface and In the so-called Fire Hole district the whole country seems actually to be on Are. Undoubtedly this source of unlimited volcanic entergy could be drawn upon for power by means whicn engineers will eventually devise. We have In the United States only one active volcano?Lassen Peak, in California. Eruptive at occasional intervals, there is enough Are Inside of it to run the machin ery of all the factories in the United States. A tunnel driven into it 2,500 feet below the crater, on the northwest side, would have to extend not more than a mile to reach hot rocks. Thence borings could be made with big core-drills, to tap the bowels of the mountain for steam. It would not be necessary to fetch the steam out of the mountain In order to use It. Chambers of adequate size cut out of the rock, far inside of the volcano, would serve to contain all requisite machinery. Including turbo-generators and dynamos, for converting the steam powef Info electricity, which could be distributed by wires over territory within a radius 300 miles. Hitherto we have regarded our lack of volcanos as rath er fortunate, but perhaps that has been a mistaken point of view. They may yet be developed as sources of p^wer In many parts of the world. Thus, for instance, In Central America and 'along the west coast of South Amer ica ? where there is little coal ?"burn ing m o \rn ?" tains" are numerous. They repre sent unlimit ed and Inex h a u s 11 h le energy going to waste. Diagram Showing How Pipes Are Sunk in the Sidea of the Volcano to the "Pocket*" of Live Steam.