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The construction of this furnace has already been sufficiently described. If the roasting is performed in a muffle chamber, the arrangement employed by Messrs. Leach and Neal, Limited, of Derby, and designed by Mr. B. H. Thwaite, C.E., can be advantageously employed in this furnace, which is fired with gaseous fuel. The sensible heat of the waste gases is utilised to heat the air employed for combustion; and by a controllable arrangement of combustion, a flame of over 100 feet in length is obtained, with the result that the furnace from end to end is maintained at a uniform temperature. By this system, and with gaseous fuel firing, a very considerable economy in fuel and in repairs to furnace, and a superior roasting effect, have been obtained.
Where the ordinary reverberatory hearth is fired with solid coal from an end grate, the temperature is at its maximum near the firing end, and tails off at the extreme gas outlet end. The ores in this furnace should therefore be fed in at the colder end of the hearth and be gradually worked or "rabbled" forward to the firing end.
One disadvantage of the reverberatory furnace is the fact that it is impossible to avoid the incursion of air during the manual rabbling action, and this tends to cool the furnace.
The cost of roasting, to obtain the more or less complete oxidation, or what is known in mining parlance as a "sweet roast" (because a perfectly roasted ore is nearly odourless) varies considerably, the variation depending of course upon the character of the ore and the cost of labour and fuel.
There are several modifications of the reverberatory furnace in use, designed mechanically to effect the rabbling. One of the most successful is that known as the Horse-shoe furnace. In plan the hearth of the furnace resembles a horse-shoe.
The stirring of the ore over the hearth is effected by means of carriages fixed in the centre of the furnace and having laterally projecting arms, carrying stirrers, that move along the hearth and turn over the pulverised ore.
In operation, half the carriages are traversing the furnace, and half are resting in the cooling space, so that a control over the temperature of the stirrers is established.
This furnace is stated to be more economical in labour than other mechanically stirred reverberatory furnaces, and there is also said to be an economy in fuel.
Usually the mechanical stirring furnaces give trouble and should be avoided, but the horse-shoe type possesses qualifications worthy of consideration.
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