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Volume 6, 1873
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Suggestions for the conversion of Sawdust into Fuel.

4. The chairman read the following communication, addressed by him to the Colonial Secretary, giving Suggestions for the conversion of Sawdust into Fuel.

“11th February, 1873.—I think that the suggestions given in the enclosed extract might be of advantage to the Government at a time of scarcity of fuel, such as exists at present.

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There are immense accumulations of saw-dust adjoining every saw-mill in New Zealand, and if these heaps could be converted into good fuel, for steam or other purposes, by a mixture with peat or with coal-dust, a great gain would be achieved.

“Extract from ‘Country Gentleman's Magazine,’ of November, 1872.

“‘The Duke of Sutherland is utilizing surface peat by making it into a composite fuel, and if this succeeds a great public gain will accrue to Scotland. The project had its rise thus. Mr. Forrester had a lot of sawdust lying in his way about the mill, when the idea occurred to him that if it could be cemented together with peat it might be converted into good fuel for his engine. He, therefore, prepared a plan of a machine to do the mixing, and submitted it to the Duke, who at once approved of it and suggested some improvements. They were adopted, the machine was set to work under steam power, and in a short time cakes of composite fuel were produced. It occurred to the Duke that if small coal or slack were used, as well as saw-dust, or without the saw-dust, a still better article might be obtained. This was tried, and with promising results. It is difficult to describe this process; but some idea may be formed of it when we state that the machine is erected on a large open space near the mass. It has a shaft nine feet long. From the centre to the end, on which there is no journal, there are fourteen knives, with other knives set at right angles, which are turned at the rate of two revolutions a minute. The peat is thrown in, and, with the coal and saw-dust, soon comes out again in a mixed state, of sufficient consistency to be wheeled away to the drying ground, where it is put into a mould frame, prepared for the drying field, and racked. In the course of a week the cakes are ready for use, if the weather be fine, and then it is found that sixty of the sawdust peats are equal to one cwt. of best Sunderland coal, and cost 25 per cent. less money; while thirty of the coal composites are set down as of this strength and value. If the cakes can be dried by artificial means, and there seems no good reason why they should not be thus dried, there will soon be abundance of peat fuel in Scotland,” &c., &c.

5. “Further Report on the Chemistry of Phormium tenax,” by Arthur Herbert Church, M.A. Oxon., Professor of Chemistry in the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester, England.—April, 1873. Communicated by the Hon. the Colonial Secretary. (Transactions, p. 260.)

Samples of Tobacco, in the leaf and prepared state, grown in Auckland, were exhibited by His Honour Mr. Gillies, who gave some explanation as to its growth and mode of preparation.