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PUMICE (Lat. purnex, spumex, spuma, f...

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Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 647 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PUMICE (Lat. purnex, spumex, spuma, froth), a very porous, froth-like, volcanic glass. It is an igneous rock which was almost completely liquid at the moment of effusion and was so rapidly cooled that there was no time for it to crystallize. When it solidified the vapours dissolved in it were suddenly released and the whole mass swelled up into a froth which immediately consolidated. Had it cooled under more pressure it would have formed a solid glass or obsidian (q.v.); in fact if we take fragments of obsidian and heat them in a crucible till they fuse they will suddenly change to pumice when their dissolved gases are set free. Hence it can be understood that pumice is found only in recent volcanic countries. Artificial substances resembling pumice can be produced by blowing steam through molten glass or slag, and when a mass of slag is suddenly cooled by being tipped into the sea (as is the case at the blast furnaces of Whitehaven in Cumberland) it swells up into a pumiceous form so light and full of vesicles that it will float on water. Any type of lava, if the conditions are favourable, may assume the pumiceous state; but basalts and andesites removing the air or other gas from a vessel, whilst a compression pump compresses the air. The simplest forms of pumps employed for forcing liquids are " plunger pumps," consisting essentially of a piston moving in a cylinder, provided with inlet and outlet pipes, together with certain valves. The disposition of these valves divides this type of pump into suction pumps and force pumps. Fig. I shows the arrangement in a suction pump. A is the cylinder within which the piston B is moved up and down by the rod C. D is the inlet pipe (the lower extremity of which J C is placed beneath the surface of the liquid to be G removed), and G is the outlet pipe. E is a valve A in the inlet pipe opening into the cylinder ; and the piston is perforated by one or more holes, F each fitted with valves opening outwards on its B upper surface. On raising the piston, the valve "~//////A F remains closed and a vacuum tends to be ~~ created in the cylinder, but the pressure of the atmosphere forces the liquid up the tube D and it raises the valve E and passes into the cylinder. On reversing the motion the valve E closes and the liquid is forced through the valve F to the upper part of the cylinder. On again D raising the piston, more liquid enters the lower part of the cylinder, whilst the previously raised FIG. I. liquid is ejected from the delivery pipe. Obviously the action is intermittent. Moreover, the height of the lift is conditioned by the atmospheric pressure, for this is the driving force; and since this equals 34 ft. of water, the lift cannot be theoretically more than this distance when water is being pumped. In practice it may be considerably less, owing to leakage at the valves and between the piston and cylinder. In the force pump (fig. 2) there is no such limitation to the lift. In this case the piston is solid, and the outlet pipe, G which is placed at the bottom of the cylinder, has a valve F opening outwards, the inlet pipe and valve are the same as before. On raising the piston the liquid rises in the cylinder, the H valve E opening and F remaining shut. On reversing the motion the valve E closes and the liquid is driven past the valve F. On again raising the piston the valve E opens admitting more liquid whilst F re-mains closed. It is seen that the action is intermittent, liquid only being discharged during a down stroke, but since the driving force is that which is supplied to the con-FIG. 2. piston rod, the lift is only con- ditioned by the power available and by the strength of the pump. A continuous supply can be obtained by leading the delivery pipe into the base of an air chamber H, which is fitted with a discharge pipe J of such a diameter that the liquid cannot escape from it as fast as it is pumped in during a down stroke. The air inside is compressed in consequence and during an upstroke of the piston this air tends to regain its original volume and so expels the water, thus bringing about a continuous supply. For a' description of modern pumps, see HYDRAULICS. Air-pumps.—Pumps for evacuating vessels may be divided into three classes: (I) mechanical, (2) mercurial, and (3) jet Mechanical.pumps; the last named are treated in HYDRAULICS. The invention of the mechanical air-pump is generally attributed to Otto von Guericke, consul of Magdeburg, who exhibited his instrument in 1654; it was first described in 1657 by Gaspar Schott, professor of mathematics at Wurttemberg, in his Mechanica hydraulico-pneumatica, and afterwards (in 1672) by Guericke in his Experimenta nova Magdeburgica de vacus spatia. It consisted of a spherical glass vessel opening below by means of a stop-cock and narrow nozzle into the cylinder of an " exhausting syringe," which inclined upwards from the extremity of the nozzle. The cylinder, in which a well-fitting piston worked, was provided at its lower end with two valves. One of these opened from the nozzle into the cylinder, the other from the cylinder into the outside air. During the down-stroke of the piston the former was pressed home, so that no air entered the nozzle and vessel, while the latter was forced open by the air which so escaped from the cylinder. During the return- stroke the latter was kept closed in virtue of the partial vacuum formed within the cylinder, while at the same time the former was forced open by the pressure of the denser air in the vessel and nozzle. Thus, at every complete stroke of the piston, the air in the vessel or receiver was diminished by that fraction of itself which is expressed by the ratio of the volume of the avail-able cylindrical space above the outward opening valve to the whole volume of receiver, nozzle and cylinder. The action is essentially that of the common suction pump. The construction was subsequently improved by many experimenters, notably by Boyle, Hawksbee, Smeaton and others; and more recently two pump barrels were employed, so obtaining the same degree of exhaustion much more rapidly. This type of pump is, however, not very efficient, for there is not only leakage about the valves and between the piston and cylinder, but at a certain degree of exhaust the air within the vessel is insufficient to raise the inlet valve; this last defect has been met in some measure by using an extension of the piston to open and close the valve. The so-called oil air-pumps are much more efficient; the valve difficulty is avoided, and the risk of leakage minimized; whilst in addition there is no air clearance between the piston and the base of the cylinder as in the older mechanical forms. The Fleuss pump may be taken as an example. The piston, provided with a valve opening upwards, is packed in the cylinder by a leather cup which is securely pressed against the sides of the cylinder by the atmospheric pressure. The piston rod passes through a valve in the upper part of the cylinder which is held to its seat by a spring. The inlet pipe enters an elliptical vessel which communicates with the cylinder a little way up from its base, whilst at the base there is a relief tube leading into the elliptical vessel already mentioned. Oil is placed both above the upper valve seating, and also in the cylinder up to the height of the lower edge of the inlet pipe. The action is as follows: On raising the piston it cuts off communication with the inlet pipe and then compresses the air above, forcing it through the upper valve and oil into the atmosphere. Some of the oil is also driven out, but as the valve does not close until the piston has descended a short distance, a certain amount of oil returns. On lowering the piston its valve opens and air passes in from the vessel to be exhausted; this is further rarefied on the next stroke and so on. The Max Kohl pumps are based on the same principle, but are constructed with more elaborate detail, leading to a greater efficiency, an exhaust of o•0008 mm. being claimed as readily obtainable. The invention of the barometer and Torricelli's explanation of the vacuity above the mercury column placed before the members of the Florentine academy a ready method Mer,cudar of obtaining vacua; for to exhaust a vessel it was only necessary to join, by means of a tube provided with stop-cocks, the vessel to a barometer tube, fill the compound vessel with mercury and then to invert it in a basin containing this liquid, whereupon the mercury column fell, leaving a Torricellian vacuum in the vessel, which could be removed after shutting off the stop-cocks. This was the only method known until the invention of the mechanical air-pumps; it was subsequently employed by Count Rumford, and as late as 1845, Edward A. King patented filament electric lamps exhausted by the same methods. Although modern mercurial pumps have assumed a multiplicity of forms, their actions can be reduced to two principles, one statical, the other hydrodynamical—at the same time instruments have been devised utilizing both these principles. Statical Pumps.—The earliest mercurial pump, devised by Swedenborg and described in his Miscellanea observata circa res naturales (1722), was statical in action, consisting essentially in replacing the solid piston of the mechanical pump by a column of mercury, which by being alternately raised and lowered gradually exhausted a vessel. A more complicated pump, but of much the same principle, was devised in 1784 by Joseph Baader, to be improved by C. F. Hindenburg in 1787, by A. N. Edelcrantz in 1804 and by J. H. Patten in 1824; whilst in 188r Rankine Kennedy resuscitated the idea for the purpose of exhausting filament electric lamps. The pump devised by A H. Geissler of Bonn, and first described in 1858 by W. H. Theo. Meyer in a pamphlet Ueber das geschichtele electrische Licht surpassed all previous forms in both simplicity and efficiency. The general scheme of Geisler's pump is shown in fig. 3. A and B are pear-shaped glass vessels connected by a long narrow india-rubber tube, which must be sufficiently strong" in the body (or strengthened by a linen coating) to stand an outward pressure of 1 to 11 atmospheres. A terminates below in a narrow vertical tube c which is a few inches longer than the height of the barometer, and to the lower end of this tube the india-rubber tube is attached which connects A with B. At the upper end of A is a glass two-way stop-cock, by turning which the vessel A can either be made to communicate with the vessel to be exhausted, or with the atmosphere, or can be shut off from both when the cock holds an inter-mediate position. The apparatus, after having been carefully cleaned and dried, is charged with pure and dry mercury which must next be worked backwards and for-wards between A and B to remove all the air-bells. The air is then driven out of A by and letting the mercury flow into A until it gets to the other side of the stop-cock, which is then placed in the intermediate position. Supposing the vessel to be exhausted to have already been securely connected to the pump, we now lower the reservoir B so as to reduce the pressure in A sufficiently below the tension in the gas to be sucked in, and, by turning the cock so as to connect A with the vessels to be exhausted, cause the gas to expand into and almost fill A. The cock is now shut against both communications, the reservoir lifted, the gas contents of A discharged and so on, until, when after an exhaustion mercury is let into A, the metal strikes against the top without inter-position of a gas-bell. In a well-made apparatus the pressure in the exhausted vessel is now reduced to 1'a or $ of a milli-metre, or even less. An absolute vacuum cannot be produced on account of the unavoidable air-film between the mercury and the walls of the apparatus. As it takes a height of about 30 in. of mercury to balance the pressure of the atmosphere, a Geisler pump necessarily is a somewhat long-legged and unwieldy instrument ; in addition, the long tube is liable to breakage. It can be considerably shortened, the two vessels A and B brought more closely together, and the somewhat objectionable india-rubber tube be dispensed with, if we connect the air-space in B with an ordinary air pump, and by means of it do the greater part of the sucking and the whole of the lifting work. An instrument thus modified was constructed by Poggendorff in 1865. Even a Geisler's stop-cock requires to be lubricated to be absolutely gas-tight, and this occasionally proves a nuisance. Hence a number of attempts have been made to do without stop-cocks altogether. In the pump generally attributed to Topler, but which was previously devised by J. Mile of Warsaw in 1828, who termed it a ' hydrostatic air-pump without cylinders, taps, lids or stoppers," this is attained by using, both for the inlet and the outlet, vertical capillary glass tubes, soldered, the former to somewhere near the bottom, the latter to the top of the vessel. These tubes, being more than 30 in. high, obviously act as efficient mercury-traps; but the already considerable height of the pump is thus multiplied by two. This consideration led Alexander Mitscherlich, F. Neisen and others to introduce glass valves in lieu of stop-cocks. A pump similar to Topler's construction was devised by Mendeleeff, and the original device has been much improved by Wiedemann, Bessel-Hagen and others. The best-known pump of this type was invented in 1865 by H. Sprengel, although the idea had been previously conceived The by Magnus and Buff. The instrument, in its original Dynamic (simplest) form (fig. 4), consists of a vertical capillary Pump. glass tube a of about 1 mm. bore, provided with a lateral branch b near its upper end, which latter, by an india-rubber joint governable by a screw-clamp, communicates with a funnel. The lower end is bent into the shape of a hook, and dips into a pneumatic trough. The vessel to be exhausted is attached to b, and, in order to extract its gas contents, a properly regulated stream of mercury is allowed to fall through the vertical tube. Every drop of mercury, as it enters from the funnel, entirely closes the narrow tube like a piston, and in going past the place where the side tube enters entraps a portion of air and carries it down to the trough, where it can be collected. If the vertical tube, measuring from the point where the branch comes in, is a few inches greater than the height of the barometer, and the glass and mercury are perfectly clean, the apparatus slowly but surely produces an almost absolute vacuum. The great advantages of Sprengel's pump lie in the simplicity of its construction and in the readiness with which it adapts itself to the collecting of the gas. It did excellent service in the hands of Graham for the extraction of gases occluded in metals. Many improvements upon the original construction have been FIG. 4. proposed. Sprengel's Air-Pump. Many other devices have been introduced for facilitating the production of vacua. For example Raps in 1893 described an automatic arrangement to be used in connexion with a Topler pump; whilst in 1893 Schulze-Berge devised a rotary form. For the description of these forms see Winkelmann, Handbuch der Physik (19(36), i. 1316. The history of mercurial pumps is treated by S. P. Thompson, The Development of the Mercurial Air Pump (1888). For the production of high vacua, see VACUUM TUBE; LIQUID GASES.
End of Article: PUMICE (Lat. purnex, spumex, spuma, froth)

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