The London Engineer publishes the accompanying engravings of a new and highly useful method of collecting and utilizing the night-soil which is now discharged by the house drains of cities and towns into the main sewers, and thence passed off into an adjacent river, by which the stream is polluted and the night-soil wasted. The illustrations show the apparatus proposed to be employed for carrying the invention into effect. At or about the lower extremity of the vertical discharge pipe of water-closets is placed in connection with the pipe in such position in the house and premises that it can be conveniently got at for examination and use, a chamber, constructed as shown in section in Fig. 2, and side elevation in Fig. 3, the cover being removed. A is the vertical pipe from the chest; B, the chamber ; C, a shaft with cross-arms, at one and a half, two, or three inches asunder, forming a grating across the chamber when the shaft is stationary, so that no extraneous or foreign matter or thing thrown into the closet beyond the size of the opening of the grating can pass through, while the soil and water and paper will have sufficient space for that purpose. A lever handle is attached to the shaft, so as to give power of setting it in motion by hand from the outside, and if it be found that any stoppage has taken place in the pipe or chamber, the handle is used to make the cross-arms on the shaft traverse round the chamber, by which means any slight obstruction, such as the clogging by paper, &c., will be removed or broken up, so that it may pass away ; the breaking up of such matter being caused by the arms passing through a grating attached to the side of the chamber standing in an angular position, as shown at D, and the angular grating will hold at its upper side any other matter which is not sufficiently small to be forced through it by the action of the revolving arms on the shaft. If it be found that the lever handle has not power to force the arms round, the chamber must then be opened, which is simply done by unscrewing a couple of thumb screws by which the side is attached, and the obstruction within is removed. By this means the chance of stoppage in the pipes intended to carry away the excretory matter from closets will be considerably lessened, and the inhabitants of houses have the power of removing obstructions. The vertical pipe below the chamber is connected with an inclining pipe made of any sufficiently strong and air-tight material, metal, iron, stone, earthenware, &c., so as to be air-tight, and running from the house to a pipe or main drain to be placed in all the existing sewers, and which pipe is proposed to be also made of any sufficiently strong and air-tight material, and tobe called the "houserefusemain." This " honse refuse main" it is proposed should be placed in the ceuter of each existing sewer, as shown in the illustration, Fig. 1, which represents a street in cross section ; A' A', being the " house refuse main," supported by brackets in a position so as not to interfere with the flow of the surface water, and the discharge from the kitchen drains of houses, &c. With these "house refuse mains" all water-closet pipes should be connected, by which means no excretory matter would be discharged into the general sewer, and all the evil now experienced from the collection of such matters in the sewers, and the discharge from it of noxious gases, so destructive to human life, would be prevented. These " house refuse mains" should be made of such dimensions as would be proportionate to the quantity of matter to be passed through them, and they should be concentrated (according to circumstances and the natural fall or water . shed of the locality) by degrees into one main, 3 discharging at the principal sewer mouth, wherever it might be ; the length of pipes or "house refuse mains" discharging at one point being regulated by the nature of the locality to be drained, and the joints should be made so that they could be readily disconnected and made air-tight when connected again. At the point of discharge is placed a chamber, which the patentee calls the "filtering vacuum chamber," the construction of which will be seen in the vertical section, Fig. 4. This chamber is built up of cast or wrought structed a filtering bed, B B, composed of peat charcoal, or other equally filtering substance, the whole disposed in layers or beds in such quantities or proportions as would be snitable to the extent of sewage water to be passed through it. The water and matters from the house refuse mains" would fall into the filtering or vacuum chamber in or about the position shown in the illu;tration of the chamber, and the weightier solids would naturally precipitate towards the bottom, but the general liquid gradually rising to its own level would injurious noxiousness which is now imparted to rivers by the discharge of sewage matter into them, and the use of which preparations for such purpose has already been secured by the patentee. The tide valve is specially constructed so as to prevent the admission into the filtering and vacuum chamber of exterior water. It will be seen by the illustration that it is something resembling the port-hole of a ship, but it is hinged from below, and rises upwards to close the hinge, being made watertight by an india-rubber covering; and at each side are quadrants, which work in a close groove formed in the framing into which the valve shuts ; the effect of which is, that water cannot enter at the sides of the valve when open, but must pass over the valve front iron plates which are bolted together, and is made of sufficient strength to resist atmospheric pressure from without whenever it may be found necessary to produce a perfect or partial vacuum in it, and of a size proportioned to the quantity of matter and water to be passed into and through it. Into this chamber is discharged the whole contents of the " house refuse main." at such level as would be found suitable to the rise and fall of the river into which the main sewer emptied itself. Within the chamber, A, A, is con- pass up throngh the gl'ating, C, and traverse through the filtering bed, B, rising up a second grating, D, or a water and pump shaft, and discharge itself through one or other of the tide valves, E and F, according as the river would allow ; the number of tide valves must be such as is found desirable for the locality. Thus the filtering bed wonld prevent the passage of any solid matter, and absorb (by means of the affinity existing between the preparations of peat moss described and the impurities existing in the sewage) that most or door, hung On a hinge below. On this valve front or door is secured a float, for the purpose of causing the water as it rises from without to lilt the valve and keep it floating on the surface. Thus, as the water rises, the valve closes and becomes perfectly water-tight by the lateral pressnre from without; while, when the water commences to fall, so does the valve, allowing the water from within to pass away. By this means water cannot enter the filtering chamberfrom without; and inasmuch as its area is in all instances to exceed the area or contents of the whole extent of " house refuse mains" discharging into it, it will be found that the quantum of liquid matter usually to flow from water-closets will never exceed or equal the space provided in the fil- tering chamber for its reception and storage till the fall of tide permits its discharge ; thus, there cannot be any evil suffered as now from the return of sewage matter by the rise of tide. All the foregoing evils being guarded against, the only possible danger to be apprehended is the stoppage of the "house refuse mains" from any cause; that is provided for as follows:— The filtering vacuum chamber is, as before stated, to be of dimensions sufficient to exceed the areal contents of the " house refuse mains" discharging into it. It is provided with a steam engine of sufficient power, which works an Archimedean screw, as is shown in the illustration at G, provided for the purpose of lifting the solid matter collected in the bottom of the chamber, and discharging it into a receptacle, H, above. This receptacle forms part of a machine situate on the floor of the shed or building erected upon the vacuum chamber, and its office is to intermix and at once convert the whole matter into a comparatively dry inodorous manure, capable of being removed by any kind of conveyance without inconvenience, or giving out smell in the slightest degree. This being intended to be the continuons process during the day, the solids will never accumulate, and whenever it be found that a stoppage has taken place, or if it be coniidered desirable, the following process can be effected at -low water, in case of tidal rivers, or at any stated time in others, say, every twenty-fonr hours. The solids having been lifted out as described, the pump, I, will speedily remove whatever water may remain in the chamber to give an ample space for vacuum. This being done, the air pump, I', will, by means of the engine, withdraw the air, the ingress and egress passages or valves being first securely closed, and when the vacuum has been attained, the ingress valve will be opened, when at the same instant of time the whole contents of the "mains," whether liquid, solid, or gaseous, must commenC0 to move from end to end of the pipes towards the vacuum, and continue to do so nntil the space be entirely filled again. Thus stoppages in the " mains" will be in fact impossible, and inasmuch as that the matter discharged into the " mains" will not be subjected to the action of the atmosphere during its retention in them, noxiousness within the pipes will be totally prevented, and none of the gaseous emanations from night-soil, which now produce such damage to the health of towns and villages, will in future exist. In New England pnd the State of New York, there are districts in which much smaller crops are now raised on cultivated land than there were thirty years ago. " The land is rwn out," to use a common term. Thii has not been caused by any defect in the soil, but for want of a properreturn of fertilizing material to restore "equilibrium," as Liebig would call it. These fields can be restored to fertility by supplying them with cheap manure. Millions of tuns of this flow down the sewers of our cities annually into the l'ivers and thence to the ocean. All this could be collected by the plan here illustrated. No land can ever run out, if properly cultivated and liberally supplied with manure, but to enable our farmers to raise large crops, and to raise them cheap, they must have cheap fertilizers. Guano and most artificial manures are too expensive. What city and company in our country will be the first to carry out this project, and thus convert a present nuisance into a future benefit?
This article was originally published with the title "New Apparatus for Collecting Night-soil" in Scientific American 13, 18, 140 (January 1858)