What's all this then?

My name is Victoria Stiles and I'm an Early Career Historian currently doing whatever odd research / consulting / outreach / tutoring jobs come my way. I blog here about some of the interesting texts I've found.
My research focusses on books about Britain and the British Empire which were in circulation in Nazi Germany but you'll also find a smattering of school textbooks, witchcraft beliefs, bog drainage, bemused travellers and weird illustrations that caught my eye.
Translations from German are my own. Comments are currently unmoderated and are mostly spam for leather jackets anyway.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Power from Mt. Vesuvius, 1939

The following is a translation of an article from the Deutsche Zeitung in Nordchina (German Newspaper of North China) from 3rd October 1939. I've also found two further articles (here and here) from American newspapers in 1940, which talk about a plan to generate power by heating water over fissures near the summit.

What struck me most about the German article is the way that the technical language seems to take second place to the idea that this powerful giant is being made to bend to man's will, in an impressively futuristic (but suspiciously undetailed) undertaking. I would imagine that the reason for its appearance in a German paper in North China is to show the ingenuity and future self-sufficiency of one of Germany's allies, as well as being an engaging and inspirational piece of "news" in itself.

Many thanks to Tom for his help with the technical bits.

Vesuvius Power Station Planned. Italian Engineers' Bold Project.

By (Engineers) B. and H. Römer, Munich.

Modern science and technology is constantly engaged in the pursuit of new sources of energy and it is therefore not surprising that the question of using volcanic power has come in for consideration. In the country of Italy, which is not rich in coal, people are thinking earnestly about harnessing the gigantic amounts of energy which are stored in Naples' fire-spewing mountain, Vesuvius, energy which for the moment puffs uselessly into the air.

According to this latest project, a power station should be built in Atrio del Cavallo, the valley which extends between the 1186m high Vesuvius and the neighbouring 1120m high Monate Somma, in which the volcanic power can be put to use. From this position, man will attempt to assail the mountain and tame its fantastic, internal powers.

From its flank, a system of pipes made from fire-proof, unmelting material are to be inserted into Vesuvius' depositional cone, to reach the chimney of the volcano. This will divert those highly pressurised gases and vapours which accumulate due to the influx of flowing magma. With the introduction of the appropriate chemical processes, these gases will be made combustible and highly exothermic and will be used to fuel gas engines. It may also be possible to collect the vapours which circulate freely about the inside wall of the crater, to direct these through superheaters, and to use them to power turbines. These turbines will in turn move dynamos, which will generate electricity for a multitude of purposes. Italian researchers have calculated that the quantity of heat Vesuvius releases into the air every year is equivalent to the heat from over 1 million tonnes of coal.

Until now, it was only tourism which gave the famous Vesuvius a certain economic importance. However, through the exploitation of the gigantic, still untamed volcanic power, the mountain could gain the highest significance for Italy's energy industry. The project may today appear utopian, but one day man's ingenuity will make even this bold plan a reality.

No comments:

Post a Comment