Enclosed Arc Lamp.

 


If a continuous-current electric arc is formed in the open air with a positive carbon having a diameter of about 15 millimetres, and a negative carbon having a diameter of about 9 millimetres, and if a current of 10 amperes is employed, the potential difference between the carbons is generally from 40 to 50 volts. Such a lamp is therefore called a 500-watt arc. Under these conditions the carbons each burn away at the rate of about 1 in. per hour, actual combustion taking place in the air which gains access to the highly-heated crater and negative tip; hence the most obvious means of preventing this disappearance is to enclose the arc in an air-tight glass vessel. Such a device was tried very early in the history of arc lighting. The result of using a completely air-tight globe, however, is that the contained oxygen is removed by combustion with the carbon, and carbon vapour or hydrocarbon compounds diffuse through the enclosed space and deposit themselves on the cool sides of the glass, which is thereby obscured. It was, however, shown by L. B. Marks (Electrician 31, p. 502, and 38, p. 646) in 1893, that if the arc is an arc formed with a small current and relatively high voltage, namely, 80 to 85 volts, it is possible to admit air in such small amount that though the rate of combustion of the carbons is reduced, yet the air destroys by oxidation the carbon vapour escaping from the arc. An arc lamp operated in this way is called an enclosed arc lamp (fig. 8). The top of the enclosing bulb is closed by a gas check plug which admits through a small hole a limited supply of air. The peculiarity of an enclosed arc lamp operated with a continuous current is that the carbons do not burn to a crater on the positive, and a sharp tip or mushroom on the negative, but preserve nearly flat surfaces.


 


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Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th Edition,
Volume 16, Slice 6 "Lightfoot, Joseph" to "Liquidation"
Published in 1910-11 Available from www.gutenberg.org


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