Документы жизни и деятельности семьи Нобель том 3 - Мелуа А.И
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The technological and technical level of the Ludwig Nobel Plant was comparable to the best machine-building enterprises in other countries. Ludwig’s son, Emmanuel Nobel, had to dedicate special attention to metering in his plant, producing the Diesel engine invented in 1897.
The inventor of the engine, when considering the prospects of manufacturing diesel engines for Russian factories, stressed that «manufacturing of engine parts requires impeccable performance and outstanding accuracy». He expressed doubt that the level of mechanical engineering in Russia was developed enough to allow Russian factories to proceed with such complex and important work. But just two years later, in 1899, Ludwig Nobel’s plant built Russia’s first diesel engine, using crude oil as fuel. These devices were in no way inferior to foreign analogs «due to the energy and expertise of plant owners and their technical staff».
A large number of innovations in metering contributed by the Nobels had to do with oil business, the main sphere of activities of this famous family. Ludwig Nobel oversaw the oil business in cooperation with his brothers - Robert Nobel and Alfred Nobel. Without exaggeration,
Train-Car Scales on the warehouse of the Nobel Association
Device for determining specific gravity of petroleum products using Westphal Scales
one can argue that the activities of the Nobel brothers led to transformation of the oil business in Russia into the petroleum industry.
Ludwig Nobel began his oil industry endeavors in the Caucasus in the autumn of 1876. As soon as in 1877 at a meeting of the Russian Technical Society, he presented his report on «Baku Oil Industry and its Future», which was a «vast and comprehensive plan for the development of oil industry». In 1879, Ludwig Nobel and his brothers established a vertically-integrated oil company, the Nobel Association of Oil Production (The Nobel Brothers Association) with an unparalleled level of integration even by today’s standards. The company recovered and processed crude oil and sold petroleum products on domestic and foreign markets. Company technicians invented, designed, and built prototype models and newest technical equipment in petrochemical industry, transportation and storage of oil and petroleum products, machine engineering and shipbuilding. The Nobels created an extensive well-managed infrastructure, and built a network of warehouses, depots, piers and commercial terminals across the Russian Empire, in Europe and on the British Isles. The partnership used the most precise of the then existing measurement methods, and most accurate and verified weights. Powerful pumps, powered by steam, heat or electric engines were used for loading of petroleum products on the vessels and tanker train cars at all company units and warehouses. Traincar scales were used to measure the weight of cargo on the railroad.
Much of the work of Nobel brothers was devoted to research on improving the quality of petroleum products and metrological support of oil recovery and refining. For example, the Nobels proposed an innovative method of measuring amounts of oil in iron tanks and earthen containers.
«To obtain the sample, lower a bucket or any other vessel (of no less than 1/4 bucket capacity) to the aforementioned depth of the product, the volume of which is to be measured, keep it at that depth for at least 5 minutes so that the vessel acquired the temperature of the environment. After lifting it back up, the temperature must be measured immediately; the hydrometer must then be used to measure the specific gravity of the product, and then, according to the method detailed above, the weight of one cubic foot of this substance can be found in the table».
Deep processing of crude oil had been a novelty at the time. There was no theoretical information about the oil, or any available practical methods of processing it. The only product obtained from oil at that time on small, primitive plants, was kerosene of rather poor quality. The Nobels started their work from studying raw materials, carrying out experiments with Baku oil. Laboratories carried out kerosene distillation and purification experiments, and tested various applications for other oil hydrocarbons, byproducts of kerosene production. Other tests included test tube burners, fuel oil burners, etc.
In particular, the Nobels proposed innovative ways to determine various qualities of petroleum products, such as viscosity, flammability, specific gravity, and content of water and solid impurities.
According to the method used to determine mechanical impurities «a gasoline or kerosene oil solution was filtered through dried and weighed filter paper and the sediments were washed with petrol until the petrol turned colorless. When this effect was achieved, the filter with the sediments was dried and weighed again. If the oil contained substances insoluble in gasoline, such as asphalt and tar, then the liquid was rinsed with hot lead benzene. In such cases, when, due to the formation of persistent emulsions, it was impossible to wash out the residue on the filter completely, the content of solids was determined by burning, weighed together with cinders».