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Economics of Power Utilization in Ceylon

TRANSACTIONS OF
THE ENGINEERING ASSOCIATION OF CEYLON


ECONOMICS OF POWER UTILIZATION
IN CEYLON.


BY

D. J. WIMALASURENDRA,
A.M.I.C.E., A.M.I.E.E.,
District Engineer, P. W. D.

INTRODUCTORY

   The prime source of all energy, no matter in what form it may present itself to us, is the sun. The most recent investigations made show that the "solar constant," that is, the amount of heat which reaches us in unit time - making due allowance for losses in transmission through. the atmosphere - is 1.93 calories per square centimetre per minute. This is equivalent to 5,000 h.p. per diem, for every acre. Of this vast quantity of energy, an infinitely small proportion is retained and stored through the agency of the chemical and physical changes it produces.

AVAILABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY


   The energy thus stored may be classified as follows:-
  1. Energy in the potential form, accumulated and stored during long periods of time, in the form of coal, heat, lignite, petroleum, &c.
  2. Energy in potential form, accumulated and stored for short periods, as wood and other vegetable products.
  3. Energy in Kinetic form, for which there is practically no natural storage, such as water, winds, the tides and radiant heat from the sun.
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   These are the various sources on which we can draw; and we will now consider the sources which are of the greatest commercial utility to us in this country.
   Ceylon is deplorably destitute of any source of accumulated energy of the form described under 1.
   There is only a very moderate amount of wood suitable for fuel, and that exists sparsely scattered throughout the country and no organized attempt has hitherto been made to utilize what is available on a commercial basis. Charcoal, leaving aside other bye-products of commercial value distilled in the process of conversion, has a good commercial value as fuel, especially, for use in producer-gas engines.
   A vast store of energy in the Kinetic form is one of the most valuable assets in this country. The extent of its availability and the possibilities of its utilization for producing cheap power will be considered later.

SOURCES OF POWER IN USE.

   The principal sources of power in use in Ceylon are:
(a) Coal imported mostly from India and the United Kingdom.
(b) Liquid fuel imported from Russia, Texas and elsewhere.

PRIME MOVERS.

   Cable No. 1 contains a statement of the principal prime movers in use in Colombo during 1917. This table is compiled from data given in Ferguson's Directory for 1917.

TABLE I.
STEAM ENGINES. GAS ENGINES. OIL ENGINES.
No.Total Horse Power. No. Total Horse Power. No. Total Horse Power
906,45038 1,450172,765
(200 Steam Locos)    9
6
of 296
of   27
     The average size of Steam Engine in use is 70 H.P.
       "       "        "     " Gas Engine     "    "    " 40 H.P
       "       "        "     " Oil Engine       "    "    " 35 H.P.

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Economics of Power Utilization in Ceylon.

POWER, ELECTRIC VS. STEAM
.
   Taking first the case of steam engines, the engines in use, are mostly of the medium or low pressure non-condensing type, working at pressures varying from 70 to 90 lbs. per sq. in. The average steam consumption of this type and size of engines range from 30 to 35 lbs. per B.H.P. per hour. An allowance of an average consumption of 30 lbs. per B.H.P. will be quite a conservative one. The duty of the boilers in use is about 5 lbs. of steam at 80 lbs. pressure evaporated per 1 lb. of coal consumed; so that the coal consumption per B.H.P. per hour is about. 6 lbs.

Total coal consumption per hour
   for 90 x 70 H.P. = 6300 x 6 lbs,

Per year of 313 working days of
   10 working hours per day = 6x6300x313x10/2240 tons.
   = 52820 tons nearly.

Cost of coal per year
   at Rs. 20/- per ton = Rs. 1,056,400.

   If this amount of motive power, aggregating 6,300 B.H.P., is supplied to the various consumers by means of electricity generated at a central station, employing modern types of steam Turbo generator plant, an enormous saving could be effected in the coal consumption, besides supplying the power to the consumers at much reduced rates. A modern Turbo-generator set of requisite capacity to generate this output will consume only 12 to 13 lbs. of steam per Kilo Watt hour, which, taking the latter figure, works out to 9¾ lbs. of steam per electrical H.P. and the coal consumption will be only 2 to 3 lbs. per Kilo Watt hour, i.e., if we take the latter figure, 2¼ lbs. per H.P. electrical.

   This means a saving of

   52820 (6 - 2¼)/6 tons
   = 33013 tons per annum.

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   Allowing an efficiency of transmission of electricity at 90 per cent., over a four mile radius, the nett saving of coal works out to 29,711 tons per annum and this at Rs. 20/- per ton = Rs. 594,220 saving per annum.

   At this rate of earning a capital outlay of Rs. 13,205,000/- could, at 4½ per cent. interest, be profitably invested in an undertaking of this earning capacity.

   Now making ample allowance for. stand-bye plant and supply mains extending to a four mile radius, the cost of a steam Turbo-generator plant installed does not, on the very most, go over £35 per K.W., i.e., Rs. 525/-. The capital cost of an undertaking to meet these requirements will come to only about

   Rs. 525 x 6300 x ¾
   = Rs. 2,480,625/-

   With a load factor of about 30 to 35 per cent., power could be delivered electrically within a four mile radius at a wholesale price of 3 to 3½ cts. per unit with a substantial margin of profit. Whereas if the whole of the 11,000 H.P. used in Colombo could be served electrically from a central generating station and the lighting be also secured for this projected undertaking, which will help to raise the load-factor, both the capital expenditure and plant per K.W. installed and the running expenses, &c., could be still further reduced. With an undertaking of this capacity it ought to be quite practicable to supply electricity for power at 2 to 3 cents per unit and for lighting at 12 to 15 cents per unit, with a good margin of profit.

   In Fig. 1, Appendix, is given a curve showing how the capital cost of an electricity undertaking per K.W. hour capacity and with an average radius of distribution of about 5 to 6 miles, is reduced with an increase of capacity of the generating plant.

   The outlay on the mains and distributing net-work is included in the cost per K.W. This curve is taken from a past number of the "Electrician".


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Economics of Power Utilization in Ceylon.


PRIME MOVERS COMPARED.

   The average cost of a 70 B.H.P. motor of the five different types largely in use in Colombo and other parts of this country is given in Table No. 2 below. The prices given are the average in the British market with a 30 per cent. added to meet cost of freight, etc., etc., etc.

TABLE II
Electric Motor with Starter. Steam Engine Town Gas Engine. Suction Gas Engine with Producer. OIL ENGINE.
Ord. Liquid Fuel Engine. Diesel.
Rs 3,500Rs 14,000Rs 10,200 Rs 15,550Rs 14,800Rs 19,350

   The electric motor priced as above is capable of carrying an overload of 25 per cent. over the rated output of 70 B.H.P., whereas the best an oil engine could do, when in good working order, is 15 per cent. and the Suction and Town gas engines only 10 per cent. So as to place the comparison on "all fours" with the electric motor, an oil engine that will develop a normal working load of 77 B.H.P. and a suction-gas engine of 80 B.H.P. will have to be considered. This will increase the capital outlay on the oil engine by about 10 per cent. and the suction-gas engine by about 12 per cent., thus bringing up the capital cost of the oil engine to Rs. 16,280/ and the suction-gas engine to Rs. 17,420/-.

   Analysis of costs per B.H.P. hour for each of the prime movers are given on pages Nos. 19-20 appendix, and the costs may be tabulated as follows:


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TABLE III.

 

Prime Mover. Cost Installed
COST IN CENTS PER HOUR.
With Capital at 4½% Interest. With Capital at 13½% Interest.
Per B.H.P Hour.Per K.W. Hour. Per B.H.P. Hour.Per K.W. Hour.
Electric MotorRs. 3,500/- 2.523.36 2.663.55
Liquid Fuel Engine " 17,500/- 3.344.454.065.41
Suction-gas Engine " 18,420/-3.775.034.546.05
1 2 3 4 5 6




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Economics of Power Utilization in Ceylon.

   A Perusal of these figures will show the relatively small capital outlay, a small power consumer using 70 B.H.P. has got to invest in an electric motor as compared with a liquid-fuel engine or a Suction-gas engine.

   The saving to him in capital outlay over a liquid-fuel engine is Rs. 14,000/- and Rs. 15,420/- over a suction-gas engine. He will thus be in a position to invest this saving in machinery more remunerative to his particular class of business.

   In working out the cost; per B.H.P. given in columns 3 and 5 of the above table, interest on the capital outlay has been reckoned at 4½ per cent. This will be warrantable in a Government undertaking where the pockets of the officers responsible are not in any way effected by the economy or otherwise of the plant installed; but in the case of a small private consumer, the interest on the outlay lay must be reckoned on the, profit-earning value of the capital invested in his particular business, and this will be more in the order of 12 to 15 per cent. If we take an average rate of interest at 13½ per cent, the actual cost per B,H.P. hour to the consumer works out to figures given in columns 3 and 5 of Table III.

   It is now obvious from these figures that the electric motor is the cheapest motive power in the market. It is a fact acknowledged in all parts of the civilized world that besides the numerous advantages peculiar. to electric drive, there is no motor yet devised that can compete with it for supplying cheap power.

   In this connection the following extract from the Interim Report of the Coal Conservation sub-committee of the Reconstruction Committee published in the "Electrician" of 28th December, 1917, is both interesting and conclusive.

   One question that has been settled conclusively during the last 15 years is that the most economical means of applying power to industry is the electric motor.

   Thus the problem is not so much how to apply the power to the tool or process as the case may be; but how best to generate the "electric power"

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   It should be stated here that the consumption of coal in steam locomotives is also about 6 lbs. per 1 H.P.

CENTRALIZATION OF POWER PRODUCTION.

   "The production and distribution of power in bulk from large and suitably placed central power stations would at a conservative figure save us 50 per cent of our coal bill for power purposes and effect a still greater saving in cost of power generated." - Electrician.
   The advantages of centralization of power production may be very briefly summarised as follows:
  1. Economy in working, due to
    (a) Large units; (b) Units run more nearly on full load and therefore at a higher efficiency (c) Reduced cost both in capital outlay on prime movers and installing them; (d) Saving in attendance cost; (e) Reduced outlay on fuel, as cheaper qualities of fuel can be used at a high efficiency; (f) Stand-bye plant carried at a lower percentage capital cost.
  2. In case of a now mill more capital can be spent on remunerative machinery.
  3. Elimination from customers consideration of all matters not directly connected with his business, e.g., engineering details, fuel costs, etc.
  4. Facility with which any portion of a mill can be run, independent of the rest.
  5. The expert advice of the Power Company's engineers are at the customer's disposal when engineering problems arise.
WATER POWER.

   The two principal methods of producing electricity in bulk are either by use of steam power or water power. What this country deplorably lacks in accumulated energy in the form of coal or oil deposits, it possesses in abundance in "White coal". The exploitation and development, of the extensive sources, of water power available and utilization of them by rational generation and distribution, to meet the large demand for cheap power in this, country, both for traction and industrial purposes has so far not been attempted to any degree.

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Economics of Power Utilization in Ceylon.

   To the very limited extent investigations have so far been made by the writer, the following appear to be the principal sources of water power in this country and their approximate capacities are as noted below.
  1. The river Mahaweli is the greatest asset we possess in this respect. At its minimum flow, without any provision for water storage it is capable of developing over 70,000 E.H.P. at a point which, on a direct line, is only 12 miles from Peradeniya and 24 miles from the Ambewella Railway station and 20 miles from Nanu Oya.
  2. At a point about one mile below (a) another about 30,000 H.P. could be obtained.
  3. At spot about 8 miles distant from Kandy about 12,000 E.H.P. can be derived.
  4. At Ulapana again another 15,000 E.H.P. could be obtained. So that at these four spots alone this river is capable of furnishing us with over 127,000 E.H.P.
  5. The Kotmalic Oya, one of the tributaries of the Mahaweli. could be harnessed to give over 6,000 E.H.P. at Talawakelle alone.
  6. Aberdeen Falls, situated on a source of the Kelani River, is capable of contributing 10,000 E.H.P. at one spot.
  7. The Laxapana Falls and Kitulgala rapids can be harnessed to derive over 50,000 E.H.P. and this source is only 42 miles distant from Colombo on a direct line.
   Besides the above there are several other sources distributed throughout the Central Province, which could be harnessed to contribute from 3,000 to 1,000 H.P. each. Everyone of the sources B, C, D, E, F, could be developed to contribute power on a commercial basis to a main distribution network fed by either of the main sources A or G.

   Power derived from one or more of these sources could be utilized for operating, some sections of our railway system electrically, especially the hill section, and that most economically. For the purpose of this paper, we will select for consideration the section from Polgahawella to Bandarawella including the branch line from Kandy to Matale.

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Transactions of the Engineering Association of Ceylon


   In absence of data of the existing steam loco. service, it is difficult to determine the exact amount of power that would be required to operate this section. On reference to the railway pocket time-table, roughly, 52 locomotives are found to be in service each day in hauling the trains over this section. Allowing another 8 locomotives for switching, etc. a total of 60 locos. can be said to be in service per day over this section. The average loco. working over this section cannot be over 2,000 H.P. when developing its maximum power. If we suppose that ? of this total number of 60 locos., viz., 20, will be in operation simultaneously over this section this will probably cover all contingent services. This will necessitate an aggregate power output of 20 x 2,000 = 40,000 H.P. But all the 20 locos. in operation simultaneously will not be developing their maximum output at one and the same time. One train may be running on a level section while the other is ascending a steep gradient. Therefore about 60 per cent. of this 40,000 H.P. will be a conservative figure to allow. 60/100x40,000 H.P. =24,000 H.P., which is the nett horse power that would have been required to work the normal passenger and. goods traffic - prior to the recent retrenchment - over this section.

   The over-all efficiency from the outgoing cables at the generating station to the pantagraphs on the electric locos. will be about 75 per cent. and the "Pantagraph to Drawbar" efficiency of an electric loco. of about 2,500 H.P. is about 89 per cent., so that the resultant efficiency of the system between the generating station and the tractive force exerted by the loco. will come to 89 x 75 per cent.

     = 66.75 per cent.
     = 66 per cent. say.

   The capacity of the plant will therefore have to be increased in this proportion:

     24,000x100/66 = 36,400 E.H.P.
     = 37,000 E.H.P. say.

   This gives us an idea of the capacity of the generating station required for this purpose.

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Economics of Power Utilization in Ceylon.

   Now source A is capable of developing about 70,000 E.H.P. so that the power available from this source alone is about double our requirements.

GENERATING COSTS.

   Source A could undoubtedly be harnessed to generate this 70,000 E.H.P. at a cost of about 1½ to 1¾ cents per Kilo Watt hour. If this energy is to be delivered at Peradeniya and Ambewella, or Nanu Oya., which appears to be the most suitable feeding points for our purpose, and which are situated at an average distance of about 18 miles from the source A, the additional investments costs associated with the step up and step down transformers, transmission lines. etc., together with the operating costs will add, at the most, another one cent per K.W. hour delivered, thus bringing up the cost of electricity delivered to the tie-in line feeding the overhead system at Nanu-Oya and Peradeniya to 2½ to 2¾ cents per Kilo-Watt hour.

   These figures are based on costs available, of power output, from hydro-electric undertakings of similar capacity, in operation in different parts of the world. But in almost all these undertakings, the provision of a fair water storage and consequent capital outlay thereon has influenced the rate per unit generated. The entire absence of the necessity of any water storage to get this vast amount of power in this case will be an important factor in reducing the amount of the capital investment on the installation and therefore the final cost of the electricity manufactured. With power obtainable at this rate or even a slightly higher one, the fact that electric traction per ton-mile compares most favourably or is cheaper than steam loco.-haulage, results of what has been accomplished in other parts of the world, most successfully, go to establish beyond doubt.


STEAM VERSUS ELECTRIC HAULAGE.

   In absence of actual data of costs of operation, by existing steam locos, comparative costs of operation by the two systems cannot be derived.


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   However, estimates made by Mr. Hobart., an eminent authority on electric railways, and reproduced in his Forest Lectures of 1916, for the electrification of a hypothetical 96 mile single-track mountain-grade division of a main railway, illustrates the merits of the project under consideration. This example has been selected as it affords the closest parallel the writer has been able to find, to the project under consideration. The main points may be briefly recorded as follows:-

2,400 VOLT RAILWAY ELECTRIFICATION.

   Trains ascend to an altitude of 3,800 ft. in 48 miles and return to the original level in the remaining 48 miles, average gradient 1.5 per cent. Trains up to 1,600 tons were to be hauled by electric locos. at an average speed of 12 miles per hour.
   48 locos. each averaging 27,200 loco. miles per annum, estimated to be required.
   Price paid for electricity delivered at the sub-station .336d x 6 = 2.016 cents per K.W. hour.
   Total amount of outlay for (a) Electricity per loco. mile with and without regenerative control work out as follows:
TABLE IV.
Annual Outlay for Electricity Without Regenerative Control With Regenerative Control
Per Locomotive£ 4,160£ 3,100
" Loco. mile36.8 d27.4 d

    The relative operating costs for the steam loco. and the two cases of electric. locos. without and with regenerative control are shown in Table V. Electricity at .336 d per K.W. hour. Lignite (fuel for steam loco.) with a calorific value of 11,000 B.T.V. per pound at 11 shillings per ton.

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Economics of Power Utilization in Ceylon.

TABLE V.
 
Operating Expenses in Pence Per Loco. Mile.
Steam Loco.  Electric Loco.
  Without Regenerative Control. With Regenerative Control.
Fuel30.7--
Electricity-36.827.6
Repairs9.62.72.7
Wages9.09.19.1
Engine House Exp.1.7--
Lubricants.4.2.2
Stores.3.2.2
Total51.7d49.0 d39.8 d

      It was shown in the paper that for 1,600 tons behind the Drawbar there would be required three 200 ton steam locos. or two 143 ton electric locos. Consequently the operating expenses per train-mile work out as follows, vide Table VI.

page 43 continued on next Page

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TABLE VI.

 
Operating Expenses in Pence Per Train Mile.
With Three 200 Ton Steam Locos. With Two 143 Ton Electric Locos.
Without Regenerative Control. With Regenerative Control.
Fuel92.1--
Electricity-73.655.2
Repairs28.85.45.4
Wages27.018.218.2
Engine House Exp.5.1--
Lubricants1.20.40.4
Stores0.90.40.4
Total155.1 d93.0 d79.6 d

   On a perusal of above figures it will be apparent that the cost of hauling a given train load by steam locos. is 50 per cent. higher than for same done by electric locos.

 CAPITAL CHARGES AND COMPARATIVE EFFECTS.  
 The average cost per ton of steam locos. is £ 24
     "      "         "      "         electric      "    £ 80

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     Crediting both locos. with a fifteen year economical life, the annual outlay in pounds sterling per loco. mile has been found to be as follows. (Hobart on Electric Railways. Forrest Lecture, 1916.)
TABLE VII
  Annual Outlay in Pound Sterling
Per 225 Ton Electric Loco. Per 330 Ton Steam Loco.
Fuel and Power  £ 2,080  £ 2,020
Wages of Loco. crews  £ 1,020  £ 730
Repairs of Locos.  £ 810  £ 1,250
Interest Taxes & Amortization  £ 2,400  £ 960
Total  £ 6,310  £ 4,950
Total per Loco. Mile  43. 3 d 47. 5d

   From, the above study, which is based on equal train loads hauled, the saving in favour of the electric loco. is an inconsiderable amount. However, in practice advantage is taken of the inherent ability of hauling heavier trains with electric locos. and at higher speeds. In both these respects electric operation increases the capacity of a railroad and incidentally decreases the outlay for wages of engine crew and train crews.

   In this comparison of ultimate costs coal fuel has been priced at 11 shillings per ton, which is equivalent to Rs. 8/25 per ton in Ceylon currency. But the average cost of steam coal in Ceylon is Rs. 20/- per ton, and outlay on fuel being a predominant factor in the total cost of operation by steam locos., the saving in favour of the electric loco. with the high price paid for coal in this country will be much more pronounced.

   Sources F and G are, on a direct line, about 42 miles distant from Colombo and about 22 miles from Ambewella - Separated as they are, only by a distance of about three miles, they could be linked together electrically; and so combined, will contribute about 45,000 E.H.P.


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Economics of Power Utilization in Ceylon.

   A much higher head of pressure to operate at, than in source A, is obtainable for both of these sources. Therefore, though the combined capacity is less than that of source A, the capital investment per unit of power developed will be perhaps a trifle less. With a load factor of about 60 per cent. it will be practicable to deliver electricity from this source to consumers in Colombo, under conditions specified on page 4, at about 2½ to 2¾ cents per unit for power and 12 to 13 cents per unit for lighting.

   Now it is evident that either of the sources A or G and F combined, could be harnessed to develop sufficient power to operate the section of the Railway under consideration.

   Fig. 1A gives the approximate positions of the different sources of water power referred to, and the location of the railway track, the electrification of which has been discussed in this paper. The possible overhead supply system and the feeding points are also shown diagrammatically.


REGENERATIVE CONTROL.

   The profile of the track from Polgahawella to Bandarawella is almost "irregular one" rising to an a1titude of 5,929 feet in 94 miles and then falling 2,164 feet in 21 miles. It has thus an average ascending gradient of 1.2 per cent, and a descending one of 2 per cent. By the adoption of regenerative control, the momentum energy of the descending trains is utilised to drive the electric motors as dynamos and return most of it in the form of electricity to the distribution system. Considerable saving is introduced by the interchange of current thus produced, between ascending and descending trains. The reduction in wear of wheels, brake rigging. etc., combined with this saving, effect a considerable ultimate saving in maintenance charges, capital costs in generating plant, etc.

LOAD FACTOR.

   A close study of the curves given in Fig. 2. Appendix, shows the influence "Load Factor" has in regulating the cost of electricity manufactured.


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   This is especially so in hydro-electric undertakings. *"A high load factor will permit of effecting a greater reduction in the cost of manufactured electricity (as compared with the cost of the same quantity of electricity but of low load factor) in the case of a hydro electric station than in the case of a coal-burning generating station". The various expedients that could be adopted to secure a high load factor may be briefly stated as follows:-
  1. An electrically propelled train load of either dense service, or one extended over a large mileage of track. The first could be secured in a town like Colombo by the installation of an electrically- operated urban train service; the latter by the electrification of the up-country section of the railway. By either expedient, a high load factor is obtained, by averaging the widely varying individual consumption of many electric locos.
  2. Tramway Service Load. One is already in operation in Colombo, others will no doubt come into existence in towns like Kandy, when cheap power is made available. On economic grounds, the Colombo Tramways will be forced to obtain their power in bulk from the projected main source.
  3. Securing the power load referred to in Table No. 1.
  4. By organizing feeder services from the termination of the existing tramways and from the principal railway stations to outlying villages and industrial centres, both for passenger and goods traffic, in the form of "Rail-less traction". In this system "Rail less cars" are operated by electricity fed from an overhead system in the same manner as is done in tramways. It has the advantage of being able to thread through traffic besides being so much less costly in installation owing to the absence of the track which is the most expensive item in a tramway system. Examples of Rail-less Traction are to be seen in Leeds, Stockport, Bradford, &c., and in the Continent. A tramway double track costs £12,000 per mile of track while the overhead equipment £ 3,700 only.

*Hobart on Electric Railways.
Note. Load factor of a machine plant or system is the ratio of the average load to the maximum load during a certain period of time.

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Economics of Power Utilization in Ceylon.
  1. The extended use of electric vehicles fitted with storage batteries. Charging the batteries provides a means of boosting up the load at the central station at times of "Low peak".
  2. Supplying electricity to estates for motive power and for drying tea electrically, &c., &c.
  3. Securing as big a lighting load as possible in all the principal towns through which the electrically propelled railway passes.
CONCLUSION.

   The most favourable location of the track, with respect to the sources of power, and the favourable physical features of its profile for regenerative control makes it exceptionally well adapted for economical operation electrically.

   The electrification of this section will besides result in the establishment of a net-work of distribution mains - "Main trunk Electric Roads" - passing through towns and industrial centres of importance, thus bringing to their very gates a supply of cheap power to enable such subsidiary services as those enumerated under heads B - G above to be installed.

   The coal output of the world is a limited quantity. The Royal Commission appointed recently to report on coal supply stated "that the time is not far distant when the rate of increase of output will be shown to be followed by a period of stationary output and then a gradual decline". As a result of the findings of this, Committee Boards of Fuel Research have been appointed in all parts of the civilized world.

   It is impossible to add anything to the force of the appeal by the Ministry of Munitions for effecting economies in the consumption of coal or to the resolution passed by the Imperial War conference of 1917 pointing out the necessity for developing and controlling the natural resources available in all parts of the British Empire and the economical utilization of such resources.

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   The anticipated gigantic business renewal after the war by all nations will no doubt place prohibitive prices on all forms of fuel and countries like ours, depending on imported fuel, will no doubt have to pay much more enhanced prices for perhaps the limited supplies that will be made available to us.

   The provision of cheap power, however, is as great a need in Ceylon, as in other parts of the civilized world. "It ranks only second in importance to cheap food, with which modern conditions have indissolubly associated. it." The industrial development of this country has been seriously hampered by the want of cheap power. Our staple products of commerce, e.g., copra, plumbago, rubber, etc., would not have needed the tender patronage of German millers for their conversion and disposal, after reserving to themselves such stores of them, and their by-products, as were needed for the production of munitions, had cheap power been made available in Ceylon.

   The development and utilization therefore of the thousands of horse power now running to waste daily in this country is a national requirement of immense importance and should be dealt with now, when in the industrial lull caused by the great war, every country is taking stock of its economic position.

   The writer has to acknowledge his indebtedness to the Hon. the Director of Public Works for permitting him to use in this paper certain results of hydro-electric investigations made by the writer at the instance of the Public Works Department.


   I may add that a further use that can be made of the current generated at Teldeniya which will also help, largely to improve the load factor at the station, is in the manufacture of calcium carbide and calcium cynamide and other artificial manures. Calcium carbide, in its pure form, is used for producing acetylene for lighting, but in a less pure and cheaper form affords a good artificial manure.

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Discussion.

   Lime and coke when heated together to a high temperature of 2,000o to 3,000o C, produce calcium carbide, combining in accordance with the formula:-

    Ca 0 + 3C=Ca C2 + CO

This reaction is carried out in an electric furnace. Calcium carbide is converted to calcium cynamide by fusing the. former in a stream of nitrogen or by admitting nitrogen to the electric furnace, in which, lime and coke are being fused.

   Mountain or carboniferous lime-stone beds are said to be in existence in close vicinity to Teldeniya.

    Mr. Ingles, who occupied the chair in the temporary absence of the President, said :- Gentlemen, we have just listened to a most interesting, instructive and suggestive Paper. I am quite sure that some members may like to offer some remarks.

 

 


Reproduced from the TRANSACTIONS OF THE ENGINEERING ASSOCIATION OF CEYLON (1918)

JRL 27 November 2003