National Geographic : 1951 Oct
Gas Torches Cut Sprockets from a Steel Plate Despite rapid pipe line expan sion across the Nation, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Mis sissippi still consume half of all natural gas produced. About three-fifths goes to industry for many purposes. It dries alfalfa and tobacco, roasts coffee beans, and sweetens bananas. Gas ovens process bricks, glass, cement, aluminum, and ceramics. Gas is used in air conditioning, refrigeration, lum ber drying, candymaking, print ing, shipbuilding, and the chem ical industries (pages 557, 559, 560, 562). Some 274 billion cubic feet of natural gas flow into Amer ican steel plants each year. Twelve million feet burn each day at the Lukens Steel Com pany, Coatesville, Pennsylvania. More than 50 gas-cutting ma chines in one of its plants turn out uniform parts. Some, travel ing on tracks and carrying up to 10 torches, can cut patterns of unlimited length. Thin steel sheets, piled 100 to a stack, are cut economically as a unit. In gots more than four feet thick melt under the torch's flame. This travograph machine op erator sears through 1/-inch plate. Combined with streams of oxygen, the gas burns at 5,000 F.