UThe History of District Heating"*
JOHN F. COLLINS, JR.
For man to exist for long in the colder parts
of the earth, he must have protection from the
elements. Such defenses usually consist of heat,
shelter and clothing. As man's protection has
improved, he has been able to live in places where
he formerly could not exist. Recent examples of
improvement are man's abilities to remain in the
antarctic and to pass under the polar ice cap.
How human beings first obtained fire is mere
conjecture. There are several theories. One is
that lightning from time to time hit trees, setting
them on fire. Man, feeling the comfort of the
heat, added logs to the fire. Another theory is
that volcanoes provided the match to start fires.
Some ancient tribes of savages started fires by
briskly rubbing two sticks together, producing a
spark from which a blaze was obtained. Some may
apl,rove the Indian le~end that the hoofs of great
buffalo, striking the flint-rock of the prairies, set
the grass on fire. The classical explanation is that
Prometheus carried a lighted torch down to earth
from the sun.
In time, some one thought of building a shelter
around the fire to keep out the howling wind. A
hole was left in the roof to let out the smoke.
The hole, as early as 300 E.G, had become a
chimney, but these had not come into general use
until 1100 A.D. Also, the chimney was moved
from the center to the side of the house.
Other fuels than wood have been in use for a
long time. Theophrastus, a Greek orator, in 300
B.C. described coal and Marco Polo, returning
from his travels in China in 1275, told of its use
in the Orient. Britons used coal before the Roman
invasion. It was used to heat the Abbey of Peterborough in 852, and it was being shipped to
London as early as 1240. In colonial days Joliet,
Marquette and Father Hennepin all found coal
on their travels. However, it was not until 1808
that Judge Jesse Fell demonstrated its use in a
barroom in Wilkes-Barre at which time experiments were being carried on with grates.
In 1609 Helmont, a Dutch chemist, discovered
natural gas, but at that time there was no apparent
use for it.
A William \J\Tardock in Cornwall piped artificial
gas into his home for heating in 1798. A lecturer
in London was laughed at for claiming ('oal gas
The oil of Baku has been known for centuries
and was mentioned in the Bible. Previous to 1856
an Ind;an squaw is known to have obtained oil
from a stream by soaking it up in a blanket. It
was not until 18.59 that Colonel Drake of Titusville obtained oil by drilling a well. In 1861
Werner, a Russian, invented the first oil burner.
Progress on the design of heating systems was
one of long duration. Sir Martin Trienwald in
Sweden ;n 1716 installed a hot-water heating system
in his greenhouse, using copper pipes for distribution and a wood fire for fuel.
In 1742 Sir Hugh Plat, English lawyer and
amateur horticulturist, piped steam into a room
to heat it. He simply let the steam escape into the
room and everything was made too moist. He also
ran a line from a covered cauldron into his greenhouse and piped steam inside.
At almost the same time as Plat, in 1745 Sir
William Cook demonstrated the possibility of heating buildings with steam when he installed a
system in his home in Manchester, England, using
pipe coils. This could be said to be the first
Figure 1. Hugh Pat's Cauldron
attempt to warm a group of buildings from a
single source of heat. Others will maintain that
the heating of the Roman baths by passing hot
fumes from fires through tile ducts might more
J. H. Walker-1921
O. W. Kastens-1924