Southwest Retort, Volume 13, Number 6, February 1961 Page: 14
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San Antoni Set
ROBERT R. CRUSE, Reporter
OFFICERS: Chairman: George Somerville. Chairman-Elect: Franklin E. Massoth. Secretary: Tom Weber.
Treasurer: A. L. Shackelford. Councilor: John P. Warnken.
Southwest Research Center
If you float logs down a stream, why
can't you do the same thing with sulfur?
This is a question being asked by engi-
neers at Southwest Research Institute.
Senior Research Engineer JoHN M.
DALE and DR. H. NORMAN ABRAMSON,
director of Applied Mechanics at SwRI,
are looking for a cost cutting short cut
to sulfur handling-and they believe they
have hit on a good possibility.
Just cast the sulfur into a submarine
form and tow it behind barges.
Present sulfur handling is a costly and
repetitive process. Most sulfur is taken
out of the ground in molten form. It is
then carried through pipes into an open
storage vat where it hardens. Later it is
either dynamited or broken mechanically
and scooped into gondola or hopper cars by
means of mechanical shovels. After a rail
trip to a port, the sulfur is then loaded
aboard a ship. Upon completion of the
sea voyage, it is unloaded to storage and
then reloaded for shipment to the buyer.
In the process both the sulfur and the
area are contaminated.
Dale and Abramson propose a one step
process. When the molten sulfur comes
out of the ground, it is carried through
a pipe to the port. There it flows into a
form of a submarine or mold. When it
hardens, the sulfur sub and perhaps others
in tandem could be towed to the destina-
tion by an ocean going tug instead of
being hauled in the hold of a full size
It might be desirable to coat the sulfur
sub with some light sealing material
although this is not necessary. Sulfur is
insoluble in water and a sample model has
been immersed for several months without
any noticeable deterioration.
Sulfur has a higher tensile strength
(160 pounds per square inch) than con-
crete (150 psi). The same is true in regard
to compressive strength (sulfur 3,330 psi
vs. concrete 2,500 psi).
The extremely smooth surface of sulfur
would permit a low resistance hull form
and the fact that it was semi submerged
would lessen the effects of pitching,
heaving, slamming and wave impact. Void
spaces would be left in the sub since the
specific gravity of sulfur is 2.07.
Further ship design details, Dale and
Abramson say, will be considered in later
studies as additional research funds be-
come available. The preliminary study on
the strength properties of sulfur was fi-
nanced by the not-for-profit Southwest
Research Institute as part of its internal
A principle for improving the efficiency
of saline water conversion holds promise
of benefits for a host of other industries.
This is the opinion of Dr. W. E.
THOMPSON, director of Chemistry and
Chemical Engineering SwRI. It is based
on many inquiries from a variety of in-
dustries following the announcement of
progress in increasing heat and mass trans-
fer with acoustical vibration.
The program which is sponsored by the
Office on Saline Water of the Department
of the Interior has produced findings
which show a marked increase in the heat
transfer coefficient with vibration.
Thompson said that among the indus-
trial applications which are rapidly shaping
up include chemical processing, metal-
lurgy, viscous fluid polymers and distilla-
tion. (He even has one inquiry from a
liquor distillery.) He said that the many
inquiries indicate the process may be ap-
plicable in any industry in which heat
and mass transfer are important limiting
IRWIN RABEN, SwRI manager of
Chemical Engineering, said preliminary
data indicates the acoustical process may
also greatly reduce scaling problems on
the heat transfer surface.
ROBERT BERRY, formerly of Lone Star
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American Chemical Society. Dallas/Fort Worth Section. Southwest Retort, Volume 13, Number 6, February 1961, periodical, February 1961; [Dallas, Texas]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc111077/m1/14/: accessed February 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .