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Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1987/006685
Kind Code:
A movable graphitizing furnace to graphitize several columns of electrodes at the same time in two side by side tanks, said furnace having a metallic cage construction and a covering of firebricks arranged at sight on said cage construction and self-compensating the thermic expansion and the thrust exerted from outside on each column of electrodes to be graphitized, said furnace being further provided with screens protecting the framework and the wheels from heat, air forced cooling system to cool the bottom of the tanks as well as water circulation cooling system to cool the bus bar electrodes also during the movement of the furnace after the graphitizing process.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
November 05, 1987
Filing Date:
April 29, 1987
Export Citation:
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International Classes:
C04B35/52; F27D11/04; H05B3/60; (IPC1-7): F27D11/04; C04B35/54; H05B3/60
Domestic Patent References:
Foreign References:
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1. Improved apparatus for graphitizing by Joule effect e longated pieces of amorphous carbon which are axially alig¬ ned head by head and are supported, enveloped and covered by a stuffing mass of thermically insulating granular ma¬ terial, characterized in that it comprises a stationary installation carrying at least two pressing means adapted to exert an elastic thrust; mechanical anchor means of the stationary installation; electrical contact means supplying the graphitizing current; means adapted to fill, arrange and remove said thermically insulating stuffing mass; an elongated graphitizing assembly movable on wheels and com¬ prising first and second end frameworks able to be moved to and away from said stationary installation, said elongated assembly containing the pieces to be graphitized in two side by side tanks provided at one end with at least a bus bar electrode sli eable in the axial direction of said pieces of carbon; mechanical anchor means associated to said anchor means of the stationary installation to secure to the latter the movable assembly; electrical contact means associated to said contact means of said" stationary installation and adapted to receive the graphitizing current and to supply it to said slideable bus bar electrodes; and a bus bar head at the opposite end of both tanks; the above mentioned com¬ ponents being arranged so that, once the nieces to be graphit¬ ized are placed v/ith teir stuffing mass in each tank betv/een said slideable bus bar electrode and said bus bar heas and the graphitizing assembly is mechanically and electrically connected to said stationary installation, said pressure means adapted to exert an elastic thrust are in a position such as to act each on one slideable bus bar electrode so that the latter can tighten to one another said carbon pieces > to be graphitized.
2. The improved apparatus of claim 1, v/herein said stationary installation consists of an assembly of reinforced concrete.
3. The improved apparatus of claim 1, v/herein said two pres¬ sing means adapted to exert an elastic thrust are each formed of a pair of hydraulic cylinder and piston assemblies.
4. The improved apparatus of claim 1, wherein said anchor means are formed of four tie rods provided at the free end with a Tshaped head and at the end connected to said sta¬ tionary installation with screwed tensile stress means and a drive lever parallel to the axis of said Tshaped head.
5. The improved apparatus of claim 1, v/herein said electrical contact means is formed of an elongated bar having a Ushaped groove directed outv/a.rds and at least a set of contact blocks movable from a position in v/hich they project in said groove to a position in v/hich they project outwards.
6. The improved apparatus of claim 1, wherein said means adapted to fill, arrange and remove said stuffing granular mass consists of a pneumatic assembly carried by a bridge crane and provided with at least a tank receiving the stuffing mass and telescopic pipes for drawing and discharching the same.
7. The improved apparatus of claim 1, wherein said movable graphitizing assembly further comprise fan means conveying a cooling current under said tanks and water circulation cooling means to cool said slideable bus bar electrodes and said common stationary bus bar head.
8. The improved apparatus of claim 1, wherein said associated anchor means of said movable graphitizing assembly are formed of four elongated slots provided in said first framework.
9. The improved apparatus of claim 1, wherein said two as sociated electrical contact means are formed each of an e longated bar.
10. The improved apparatus of claim 1, wherein each of said side by side tanks arranged on a common framework consists of a steel cage construction forming side by side frames adapted to receive firebricks arranged at sight and forming together the continuous wall of the tanks.
11. The improved apparatus of claim 10, v/herein said cage construction consists of several aligned sectors, each of them is nechanically separated from the adjoining sector, so that firebricks cover the distance of separation, and the mechanical and electrical continuity of said framev/ork is interrupted by mechanical joints electrically insulated both in longitudinal and axial direction.
12. The improved apparatus of claim 1, v/herein said end fra¬ meworks are connected by several tie rods, the mechanical and electrical continuity of v/hich is interrupted bj elec¬ trically insulated joints.
13. The improved apparatus of claim 1, wherein the wheels of said movable graphitizing assembly are mounted on forks connected to said framework through a member electrically insulating said wheels from said framework.

This invention relates to an improvement in movable graphit¬ izing furnaces. As well-known electrodes for arc furnaces, which are used in the iron metallurgy and are provided by baking, impregnating and annealing carbon materials, are subjected to a graphit¬ izing process consisting in that a d.c. or alternate current having a very high intensity and being at a comparatively low voltage, i.e. about 160.000 r 200.000 A and 110 *- 220 V, is passed through the electrodes. The current flow causes a very high heating of the electrodes which reach temperatures in the order of 2.300°G *• 3.000°C, whereupon the structure of the carbon passes from amorphous to crystalline, i.e. carbon becomes graphite. The graphitizing process has been carried out by socalled Acheson furnaces for a long time. The current flows cross¬ wise to the axis of the electrodes and only in the recent time said furnaces have been replaced by graphitizing fur¬ naces, in which current is passed along the axis of the e- lectrodes according to the socalled longitudinal graphit¬ izing process in which several electrodes to be graphitized are placed aligned in columns between two poles of graphite. A pressure is exerted on such poles in order to keep ends of electrodes to be graphitized in contact with one another

and with the poles.

Pressure exerted on poles has to be steady and elastic in order to keep the contact between ends of electrodes also during any shrinkage or expansion of the electrode columns during the heating process.

In such, furnaces the column of electrodes to be graphitized acts as a conductor in which a current is passed, said co¬ lumn being placed horizontally within a mass of grains of metallurgical or petroleum coke consisting of a bed on which *ke electrode column rests and a covering above the latter so that electrodes are "included" in said stuffing mass. The graphitizing process by means of a current being pas¬ sed along the axial direction of the furnaces, the provi¬ sion of said stuffing mass acting as a thermic insulation, the necessity not to keep still standing the cumbersome, ' heavy, expensive, mechanical and electrical equipment du¬ ring the cooling time give rise to a lot of technical, technological, rather complex problems, the solutions of which are the objects of a number of Patents concerning movable graphitizing furnaces provided with wheels such as U.S.A. Patents 5o. 1,029,121 of Heroult (class 13/7) and No. 4,015,068 of Yohler- (class 13/7), German Patents No. P2018764.8 and P231.6494.5 of Sigri Slektrographit GmbH, and U.S.A. Patent Application No. 289,249 filed as PCT under the No. PCT/US82/01046 of Great Lakes Carbon Cor¬ poration.

The latter Patent Application, although it introduces advanced solutions, does not solve some problems asso¬ ciated to some non-negligible drawbacks. Among others it should be pointed out the arrangement, the transport and the filling of the stuffing mass of

coke under, about and over the electrodes to be graphitized as well as the use of a tank formed of an outer, continuous shell of steel with a lining and providing a construction that besides being very heavy gives rise to serious pro- blems of thermic expansion.

Besides such problems the solution proposed by Great Lakes Carbon Corporation has also the drawback of an useless great number of electrode pressing systems as each furnace is pro- vided with an own self-contained system. Finally only one column of electrodes at a time can be gra¬ phitized by the furnace of Great Lakes.

This invention seeks to avoid the drawbacks of prior art by providing a highly improved graphitizing furnace which is comparatively light, is provided with equipment of very quick operation for the arrangement, removal and rearrange¬ ment of the stuffing mass of coke, in which the powder di¬ spersion in the environment is reduced to a minimum, and has an outer pressing system to which it is quickly connected only during the step in which a current is passed through the elec- trodes so that such pressing system may be connected to other furnaces during the long cαnling time of each furnace. The furnace of this invention allows also two or more electrode columns at a time to be graphitized. Furthermore the graphitizing furnace of this invention pro- vides also completely new solutions such as air forced cooling of the tank bottom, screens protecting frame and wheels from heat, and water circulation cooling of the bus bar heads also during the movement of the furnace after the graphitizing process. The furnace according to this invention essentially provides: a support framework, two side by side tanks containing the

columns of electrodes to be graphitized and the relative stuf¬ fing mass of coke, each consisting of a steel cage construc¬ tion carrying the firebricks at sight and pressure self- compensating members; an outer, stationary framework carrying members designed to transmit the requested thrust to the elec¬ trodes to be graphitized, the bus bars along with their con¬ nections, means fastening the furnace to the pressing system, outer equipment to filling, removing and refilling from the tap the stuffing mass of coke; an air forced system for cool- ing the frame and the bottom of the tanks; screens protecting frame and wheels from heat; and a water circulation cooling system for the bus bar heads also during the movement of the furnace. The movable graphitizing furnace of this invention will be described herebelow in detail with reference to the accom¬ panying drawing, in which:

Figs. 1 and 1A show a side elevation of a movable furnace with relative stationary pressing framework; Figs. 2 and 23 show a top view of the movable furnace and the stationary framework;

Fig. 3 is a cross-section in enlarged scale of the movable furnace;

Fig. is a detail showing in even more enlarged scale a por¬ tion of a member of the tank cage construction; Fig. 5 is a detail showing in enlarged scale the section of the tank edge;

Fig. 6 is a detailed exploded view showing in more enlarged scale an electrically insulated connection between longitu¬ dinal members of the furnace support framework; Fig. 7 shows the detail of the electrically insulated con¬ nection between cross members and longitudinal members;

Fig. 8 shows the detail of the connection of a wheel fork to a longitudinal member;

Fig. 9 is a similar view of an electrically insulated con¬ nection between upper tie rods; Fig. 10 is a sectioned elevation showing in enlarged scale the stationary framework and the end of the movable graphi¬ tizing furnace;

Fig. 11 is a detail showing the stationary bus bar clamping system integral with the framework and movable together with the furnace.

Firstly with reference to Figs. 1 to 9 the mechanical cons¬ truction of the movable furnace of this invention will be described. Such construction comprises a support framework formed of three longitudinal members designated by lϋA, 103, IOC each consisting of several members insulated to one another, two sets of cross members generally designated by 11A and 113, and two end frameworks designated oj 12A and 12B, respectively. Longitudinal members 10A, 103, IOC support several wheels de¬ signated by 13(A, 3, C) and running on respective rails 1 (A, 3, C).

First graphitizing tank of the furnace generally designated by 15 is supported by the cradle formed by both longitudinal members 10 and 10B and cross members 11A, and a second gra¬ phitizing 15A (Fig. 3) is supported by a second cradle pla- ced side by side to the first cradle and formed by both lon¬ gitudinal members 103 and IOC and cross members 113. Since both tanks, as known by the skilled in the art, cannot have an electrical connection so as not to give a preferential path to the electrical current which has to flow through the columns of electrodes to be graphitized, the mechanical con¬ nection of longitudinal members 10(A, 3, C) is interrupted

by electrically insulated joints generally designated by 16 (better seen in Fig. 6), and cross members 11A and 11B are connected at their ends to the respective longitudinal mem¬ bers by electrically insulated joints generally designated by 18 (better seen in Fig. 7). As both tanks 15, 15A have identic construction, only one of them will be described in particular with reference to the perspective view of Fig. 4. First of all both tanks 15, 15A cannot have electrical con- nection either so that also their electrically conductive members such as the metallic cages of steel cannot have me¬ tallic connection. Consequently, as shown in Fig. 4, the me¬ tallic cage of each tank consists of several lengths separa¬ ted and electrically insulated from one another. As clearly apparent, tank 15 (and the identic tank 15A as well), shown in the fragmentary perspective view of Fig. 4, has a ϋ-shaped cross-section and is formed of traverses providing a horizontal bottom 19, two sides 20 slightly in¬ clined to the latter, and two almost vertical sides 21. The inner section of tanks 15, 15A has the shape of the transverse frames 22 forming the cross members of the cage. The main longitudinal members of the cage are formed of ho¬ rizontal stringers 23 suitably arranged at different heights along transverse frames 22. The framing of each cage designed to support the arrangement of bricks forming the tank will be described in particular with reference to the fragmentary view of Fig. 4.

In such figure tv/o adjoining sectors among the several aligned and separated sectors forming each cage are fragmentarily shown. As far as the metallic continuity of the cage is con¬ cerned such sectors are separated and electrically insulated,

as better illustrated afterwards, by suitable joints arran¬ ged between members which cannot be mechanically separated from each other like, for example, the longitudinal members. In Fig. 4 two adjoining sectors 303 and 30C are shown each consisting of three contiguous transverse frames connected by horizontal stringers 23 (see also Fig. 5). As clearly illustrated, also the mechanical continuity of the framing is interrupted because also the horizontal flat bar irons 25 extend only along the length defined by three transverse frames 22. It follows that between adjoining transverse fra¬ mes 223 of sector 303 and transverse frames 22C of sector 30C there is a mechanical interruption in the horizontal members of the cage'. As shown in Fig. 5, bars 24 consist of side by side T-bars forming a set of channels in which firebricks I..R abuting also on stringers 23 are placed. The mechanical continuity of the firebrick wall at the cut points between sectors is provided by bringing the adjoining end transverse frames of each sector closer so that the respecti¬ ve vertical T-bars are at a distance equal to the length of a firebrick . ' .R. As clearly shown in Figs. 4 and 5 adjoining sectors 303 and 30C are electrically insulated to each other because of the separation among stringers 23 and horizontal flat bar irons 25. However, the continuity of the firebrick wall is assured by the row of firebricks designated by F R covering the space between adjoining transverse frames of both sectors. Since longitudinal members 10(A, B, C) cannot have mechanical continuity either, as already mentioned, each of them is formed of several double T-bars connected by elec¬ trically insulated butt joints equal to one another such as shown in the fragmentary view of Fig. 6, -said joints being designated by 16 and associated to any longitudinal members

generally designated by 10.

A rectangular plate 32 provided with two rows of hoies is welded at the end 31 of each double T-bar, and the butt joints between both plates 32 is provided by bolt and nut designated by 33 and_ 34,- respectively. However, as the elec¬ trical continuity between the two T-bars has to be interrupted, a flat rectangular, bored plate 35 of an electrically insu¬ lating material is arranged between plates 32. Of course, as bolts should be insulated too, they are provided with a sleeve having the form of a cylinder with two washers of in¬ sulating material designated by 3 in Fig. 6. It is self-evident that also cross members 11(A, B) and box¬ like members 40(A, 3, C) supporting wheels 13(A, 3, C) should be connected to respective longitudinal members 10(A, 3, C) by electrically insulated joints in order to avoid a short circuit between both tanks 15, 15A along cross members 11(A, 3) and to prevent current discharges on rails 14(A, 3, C). To this end essentially the same electrical insulation syste. as that described oeiore to connect longitudinal members 10(A, a, C) will be used, i.e. a system in which flat steel plates are connected by bolts provided with an electrically insulating sleeve and washers, a flat plate also of electric¬ ally insulating material being arranged therebetween. Such connection system between the end of any cross member 11(A, B) and the lower flange of respective longitudinal mem¬ ber 10(A, 3, C) is generally designated by 18, a flat insu¬ lating plate 44 (Fig. 7) being arranged between the upper flange of box-like member 40 at end 41 of cross member 11(A, 3) and lower flange 42 of longitudinal member 10(A, 3, C), v/hich are connected by bolts 43 provided with respective nuts and insulating sleeves.

The connection between upper plate 0 of fork 51 carrying wheel-j 13(A, 3, C) and the widened portion 52 of the lower flange of longitudinal member 10(A, B, C) is quite similar. A flat plate 54 of an electrically insulating material is arranged between plate 50 and portion 52 connected to each other by bolts 53 provided with insulating sleeves (Fig. 8). As the pressure exerted by the hydraulic pressing assemblies tends to move end frameworks 12A, 12B away, as better des¬ cribed afterwards, the latter are connected by three steel tie rods 60(A, B, C) having a circular section.

In order to interrupt the electrical continuity, such tie rods are connected by electrically insulated joints desig¬ nated "oj 6l and formed of circular flanges 62 provided with four holes and connected by four bolts 63 with electrically insulating sleeves and washers, a circular plate 65 of elec¬ trically insulating material being arranged between said flanges (Fig. 9).

One of the end frameworks designated by 12A, i.e. that subjected to the pressure of hydraulic pressing assemblies designated by 70 and 71 and supported by the stationary fra¬ mework 72, is shown in detail in Fig. 10.

As clearly illustrated, the stationary framework 72 is formed of an assembly of reinforced concrete firmly anchored to the ground and designated by 73, and of a rectangular frame 73A. Because two columns of electrodes in each tank are graphite ized at the same time in this embodiment of the invention, as already mentioned, each hydraulic pressing assembly con¬ sists of two double hydraulic cylinder and piston assemblies, which are designated by 70(A, 3) and 71(A, B) respectively, as the thermic expansions of each column of electrodes are different in magnitude and sign and require different com-

. - -

pensations. For this reason also the graphite poles are dou¬ bled and carry the numerals 74(A, B) and 75(A, B), respec¬ tively, depending on what hydraulic cylinder and piston as¬ sembly 70(A, B) and 71(A, B), respectively, acts thereon, as shown in Fig. 2.

Graphite poles 74(A, B) and 75(A, B) are carried by end fra¬ mework 12A of the movable furnace so as to horizontally tra¬ verse when the ends of hydraulic cylinder and piston assem¬ blies 70(A, 3) and 71(A, B) act on the outer surface thereof, thus forming a single assembly when the furnace is anchored to stationary framework 72.

The other end framework 123 has a construction similar to frame',vork 12A as it has an inner frame 763 and an outer frame 77-cS connected by longitudinal members 783. Two stationary heads 79A and 793 consisting of graphite blocks are supported by framework 123, said blocks being connected to bus bars elec¬ trically connecting in turn columns of electrodes to be gra¬ phitized C3G1 and Ci__G2 contained in tank 15 to columns of electrodes C3G1A and C3G2A contained in adjoining tank 15A. 3y such an arrangement the graphitizing current will flow, of course, from graphite electrodes 74A, 743 to both columns of electrodes CBG1, CΞG2, common heads 79A, 793, columns of electrodes to be graphitized CΞG1A and CEG2A and finally to the other πair of electrodes 75A, 753, thus making the elec- trical circuit (Figs. 1A, 23).

As the pressure exerted by the hydraulic assemblies would tend to move the furnace movable on wheel away from the sta¬ tionary framework 72, the latter and the end uprights 76A of framework 12A of the movable furnace are engaged by an- choring means formed of four tie rods 82(A, B) and 83(A, B) integral with the upper portion of stationary framework 73,

the hammer heads 84 of which are inserted into vertically elongated slots 85 provided in the end uprights 76A which are thus fastened when the heads are rotated by 90° so as to be arranged in the horizontal plane. A simple screwed rod and handwheel assembly 81 allows tie rods 82(A, B) and 83(A, B) to be put under tension.

The hydraulic control device generally designated by 90 is shown in the fragmentary, perspective view of Fig. 11, said device being arranged partially on the rectangular stationary framework 73A and partially on framework 12A of the movable furnace having the function of connecting bus bar electrodes 74(A, B) and 75(A, 3) to the system supplying the graphitizing current. The stationary part consists of an elongated member 91 having a forward U-shaped groove 92, the rectilinear por¬ tions of which are orovided v/ith rectangular side by side openings, in v/hich several upper contact blocks 93 and se¬ veral lower contact blocks 94 slide. The set of blocks 93 and 94 can be switched from an opened position such as that indicated in Fig. 11, in v/hich the inner ends of such blocks are outside the groove 92, to a closed position, in which such ends are inside the same groove, by means of a well- known hydraulic control means generally designated by 90A. Groove 92 can receive and 95 of a stationary bus bar inte- gral with a contact assembly 96 placed above the horizontal member 7SA and supported by a vertical member 97. Assembly 96 of bus bars and annexed elements is well known and will not be illustrated in detail since it has only the function to electrically connect the pairs of movable electrodes 74 (A, 3) and 75(A, B) to the power supply system supplying the graphitizing current.

As illustrated in the sectioned view of Fig. 3 bottom 19 of tanks 15 and 15A and the lower frame of the furnace are cooled by an air current which is produced by fans 97A, 97C secured under longitudinal members 10A, IOC and is ap- propriately deviated.by vertical baffles 98 arranged under longitudinal members 10A,.10B, IOC. Furthermore sheet screens 99 are placed along the lower v/all of tanks 15, 15A in order to protect from heat wheels 12(A, 3 C) and the members of the lower framework of the furnace. Another feature of the furnace of this invention is that of v/ater circulation cooling graphite electrodes 74(A, 3) and 75(A, 3) and the graphite heads 79A.79B also during the movement of the furnace. Water circulation is carried out in the hollov/ plates 100 placed on the surfaces of electrodes 74(A, 3) and 75(A, 3) and in the hollow plates 101 placed on the sur aces of heads 79A 7SB water being conveyed to such plates by hoses (not shown) connected to fittings provided on the plates itself. The construction of the furnace according to this invention allows the operations of filling, removing and refilling the stuffing mass of coke ILK fragmentarily shown in the sectio¬ ned view of Fig. 3 to be carried out from the top of the fur¬ nace by means of a pneumatic apparatus having telescopic pipes and carried by a bridge crane, which apparatus is well : known and schematically illustrated in Fig. 1A and designated by ATT.

In the operation, the stuffing mass of coke is filled by the apparatus ATT under, about and over the columns of electrodes to be graphitized CΞG1, CEG2 in tank 15 and CEG1A, CΞ.G2A in tank 15A, respectively, said columns being arranged between bus bar electrodes 74(A, 3) and heads 79A, 79B and between

the latter and electrodes 75(A, B), respectively. The furnace is pushed then on rails 14(A, B, C) by a suitable tractor which is coupled to hook GC (Figs. 1A, 2B) near stationary framework 72, and hammer heads 84 of tie rods 82(A, B) and 83(A, B) are entered into corresponding slots 85 of uprights 76A of framework 12A in the furnace, said heads being then rotated by 90° by means of drive levers 88. Levers 88 are parallel to heads 84, thus indicating the position of the Tatter when the furnace is anchored to stationary framework 72. Tie rods 82(A, 3) and 83(A, B) are then put under tension by handwheel devices 81.

As in this "locked" position of the furnace contact bars 95 belonging to the contact assemblies of the movable furnace, which as self-evident are in a number of two, i.e. one for any pair of bus bar electrodes 7 (A, 3) and 75(A, 3), are within slot 92 of respective stationary contact blocks S3, contact blocks 93 and 94 are engaged by such bars so as to electrically connect the outer power supply system to bus bar assembly 96 of the movable furnace, thus supplying the graphitizing current to said pairs of electrodes (Fig. 10). Hydraulic assemblies 70(A, 3) and 71 (A, 3) are then operated so that their enlarged heads 80 abuting against the outer surfaces of respective bus bar electrodes 7 (A, B) or 75(A, B) exert a pressure thereon, said electrodes pressing in turn the adjoining ends 3C of the electrodes to be graphit¬ ized forming columns CΞG(1, 2) and CΞGA(1, 2), as apparent in Figs. 2 and 2B. It should be appreciated that the function of tie rods 6l(A, B, C) connecting both end frameworks 12A, 123 of the furnace is that of causing the pressure exerted by hydraulic assemblies 70(A, 3) and 71(A, B) through the columns of electrodes to be graphitized against common head

79A, 79B be supported by stationary framework 73 and not by an outer support of end framework 12B.

Now current is passed through following path: bus bar elec¬ trodes 74(A, B); columns of electrodes to be graphitized 5 CΞG(1, 2); common head 79; columns of electrodes to be graphitized CΞGA(1, 2); and bus bar electrodes 75(A, B). Heating produced by the flow of current will cause electrodes forming columns to be graphitized, thus reaching temperatu¬ re's in the order of 2500 *• 3000°C. Ii should be noted that

10 since hydraulic assemblies 70(A, B) and 71(A, 3) are doubled, they can easily compensate the variations of length of the respective electrode columns due to different expansions. At the end of the graphitizing process tie rods 8 (A, 3) and 83(A, 3) are disengaged from end framework 12A so that

15 electrical contact blocks 93, 94 are opened and the movable furnace is moved away from the stationary framework and is brought somewhere else to carry out the cooling step, thus allowing pressing assemblies 70 and 71 and electrical contact systems 90 to carry out the gra p hitizing of the electrodes

20 contained in another movable furnace.

As in a graphitizing process the time involved in said process is about only a quarter of the total time, the remaining three quarter of time being involved by the cooling, filling and discharging steps, it should be understood that the invention

2.5 allov/s the productivity of the expensive pressing assemblies " and power supply systems to be quadruplicate.