Monday, July 20, 2009

1905 - 1910 The building of Ragged Chutes

Ragged Chutes was Charles most ambitious project and his greatest success. The feeder shaft, 351 feet deep and 9 and 1/2 feet in diameter was sunk into the bedrock. The lower 40 feet widens to 11 and 1/2 feet in diameter. At the top of this shaft are twin intake heads each containing 72 intake pipes, 16 inches in diameter.

Water backed up behind the 660 foot wide dam swirls down through these pipes carrying air with it. When the water reaches the bottom of the shaft, it is diverterted into a 1021 foot long horizontal tunnel by a steel sheathed concrete cone.

This tunnel is 20 feet wide and 26 feet high, at the far end a bulge in the ceiling increases the height to 42 feet. The rushing water slows down in this tunnel and the air collects along the roof at approximately 120 p.s.i. A 298 foot tail shaft by 22 feet in diameter returns the water to the surface. Once at the surface it continues down the Montreal River.

The air, under pressure, in the pocket below ground is tapped off by a 24 inch diameter steel pipe and brought to the surface. Here it passes into a valve house and is distributed to the mines of Cobalt.

The air is transported to the mines via a seamless pipe, imported from Germany, specific to this project. There is a total of 21 miles of seamless pipe used for the movement of air to the various mines.

(The photo at the right is of shaft #8 it has a pencil sketch on the back presumably by Charles Taylor that was done on site.)

When more compressed air, than can be used, builds up in the chamber the water level in the tunnel is forced down exposing the end of a 12 inch release pipe. The excess air blows out 10 feet below the surface of the Montreal River resulting in a geyser plume that often reaches 200 feet in the air. It was one of the most impressive site around Cobalt during the hayday of the Air Plant.

To reduce friction and drag in the intake and tail shaft Taylor had to devise a method of drilling in the granite that would ensure a smooth vertical wall. He designed a drilling rig that allowed the men to work from a wooden platform that rotated on a central axis, thus maintaining a constant diameter. Wall fractures in the granite substrate were smoothed with cement to eliminate uneven surfaces.

There were many nay sayers at the time who did not believe Taylors calculations, there were many in the Engineering field that said it could not be done. The general feeling around Cobalt at the time was, "Taylor is crazy, a two bit, so-called engineer, self taught, little better than a mechanic with a bunch of wacky ideas". He was this and more, most visionaries are. The educated and informed doubt the abilities of those without the paper qualification however Taylor not only proved them wrong but his Air Plant was so finely engineered that it operated unabated, but for two maintenance shutdowns, up until fire destroyed it in the 1980's.

( special thanks for the text, in part, to Richard Hillary grandson of CH Taylor).


jim said...

the loss of this engineering marvel is an obvious disaster for the historical tourism of the area.
Has the underground engineering been retained or has there been a demolition of the facility?

Geoff said...

I have not been so impressed by any other 'antedeluvian' technology.
The whole storiy needs to be an informative and excitng doco.
The trompe concept could be revived for the terminal energy decline we are now entering.
Thank you so much for this site. It has corrected much of what I have read, and the pictures are just exquisite for an old tech head like me. Can you post all your internal phtos of the plant as a gallery?
I am fascinated
geoff moxham
BSc Industrial Arts, (technology) UNSW 1977

Afif Abou-Raphael said...

Mr. Charles Taylor is my hero,

Firstly, for having his hydraulic air compressor working for the benefit of the mining industry that was in need of a lot of compressed air.

Secondly, for having this compressor for me in order to produce compressed air for my Air Bucket Turbine (My Patent;


Sadly, the Canadian Researches Counsel NRC/CNRC didn’t understand yet the benefit of Mr. Taylor’s’ compressor that can transform any hydraulic power of any waterway to compressed air power that can be used in my machine where the output energy of my system backed up by Mr. Taylor’s compressor, will produce much more energy than energy produced by using the hydraulic power in conventional water turbines.

As an example; in ragged chute the compressor was using 22.7 cubic meter of water in order to produce 40,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air at 8.625bars, while the average water flow of the Montreal River is about 67.5 cubic meter.

Thus, if we build a Taylor’s type Hydraulic Air Compressor capable of containing the full average water flow of the Montréal River, the produced compressed airflow would be, around three times the produced 40,000cfm which is (40,000 x 3 = 120,000cfm).

Doing the calculations of the output power of an air bucket turbine using 40,000cfm at 8.625bars will produce around 6 megawatts of electrical power before energy lost deduction.

Thus, with 120,000cfm an output electrical energy will be around 18 megawatts before energy lost deduction.

Now, if we deduct whatever amount of lost energy, the positive output energy would be more than 12 megawatts. (A spreadsheet of calculation is available to anybody needing it; my e-mail is:

The present output energy of the conventional turbines of the hydro electrical power station that is using the full water flow of the Montréal River is about 7 megawatts.

Here I ask the Government, why we don’t use Mr. Taylor’s Hydraulic Air Compressor to producing more energy out of our water ways in a time we are crying to find new sources of renewable energy.

Another very important issue makes me proud of Mr. Taylor, that is;

The power of the Ragged Chute’s Hydraulic Air Compressor is about 5,500hp, and the produced airflow volume was 40,000cfm at 8.625bars or more. Thus every 1hp produces 7.27cfm at 8.625bars (40,000cfm / 5,500hp = 7.27cfm)

While every 1hp, produces 4cfm at 100psi or (6.7bars) in the most performing conventional compressor. .

Thus, how cam 1hp produces in Mr. Taylor’s compressor almost double airflow volume than in conventional compressors regardless of the difference of pressure.

My Biggest question to the scientific community;

Where is the first and second low of thermodynamic, in Mr. Taylor’s Compressor and in the conventional compressors?

And because Mr. Taylor’s compressor is a reality, than, I thing the books of physics have to be updated in order to give Mr. Taylor his due in science.

Inventor; Afif Abou-Raphael

Unknown said...

The higher compessed air efficiency could be due to the cooling effect of the water. You end up with 120 psi of air at or near the temperature of the water that transports and compresses it.

Afif Abou-Raphael said...

From inventor Afif Abou-Raphael.

Response to Mr. Clark's response.

I respect what Mr. Clark said about cold temperature that can help introducing into the compressor little bet more air, but I would like to tell him not to forget that the end pressure of 8.625 bars was the pressure at the mines' machineries. I said that the efficiency of the ragged chute's compressor is more than the double of any conventional compressor's efficiency at the same conditions in addition to higher pressure production, even in summer times where air and water have much higher temperature. To go his way, while doing calculations according to higher temperature we see that we can’t pass the 10% where I am talking about more than 100% between lower pressure of 6.79bars (for conventional compressors) and higher pressure of 8.625 (for Ragged chute’s compressors).

In addition if a conventional compressor produces air at 8.625 bars surely it needs much more energy to produce the 4cfm, thus, it is not 1hp now but probably 1.5hp or more for 4cfm (As a general rule, a good compressor, per true HP, will deliver about 4 true CFM at 100 psig or 6.79 bars). Again we should not forget that at ragged chute the air was produced continuously where never any conventional compressor can do even at 50% because of mechanical failures, electrical failures or else.

Moreover why don't we use these results to do a prototype to harness energy from compressed air that can be produced by Taylor's type hydraulic air compressors?
We are in need of a lot of energy, and I think that will be a right decision to proving that Mr. Taylor had the best idea ever to producing compressed air very effectively and efficiently to helping energy production worldwide.

Again I confirm that Mr. Taylor’s compressor is the most efficient air compressor ever.

Inventor; Afif Abou-Raphael

Paul said...

The conventional way to produce electricity out of waterways is, of course, to dam them and install generator turbines. Perhaps 6MW isn't enough for the government to worry about, but on a community level could be well worth the effort.

Afif Abou-Raphael said...

Answering Mr. Paul

Dear Mr. Paul

What I have written was to prove to you and to anybody that using compressed air produced by any water way according to Mr. Taylor’s principle is much better than using the hydraulic power in any other conventional turbine.

When I said 6mw it was produced by the third of the water flow of the Montréal River. And if the full water flow was used to produce compressed air, then we can get more than 19mw or about more than 12mw ready to be used after the deduction of all energy lost, comparing to 6.7mw that are produced actually with the full water flow of the Montreal River.

I ask you please to understand that double of all of the megawatts that are produced with our water flows is way better than half of it as we are producing now!!!

Inventor Afif Abou=Raphael