Release that Witch Chapter 841
However, the "underground Styx's River" that where Blackwater converged in the Southernmost Region was very unusual. According to Iron Axe's report, along the way from Choke Swamp to Endless Cape, Styx's River became less thick and the stagnant fog turned thin. Several Styx' s Rivers intersected at Blackwater Valley where men could even hear the roar of the water splattering onto the rocks beneath them when they were standing at a higher spot.
Roland speculated that the composition of the Styx's River water changed as it flowed. For example, the stagnant fog Iron Axe had described in his report might be a kind of toxic gas emitted by Blackwater, or a product of the reaction between some subterranean materials. That might explain the reason why during centuries of evolution, the natural lightning or man-made fire did not set the Blackwater Valley ablaze, and why no one could survive in Choke Swamp.
The stagnant fog shrouding the Styx's River not only stopped the Sand Nation people but also blocked fresh air, and thus guaranteed a steady flow of Blackwater toward the south. But as the underground river drew close to the Cape, it became thinner and finally disappeared. Only some part of the underground river would escape from the ground under pressure. Among them, some would set aflame, while some would turn into tiny streams and shallow puddles on the ground. Additionally, the stagnant fog dispersed at that point, providing a perfect environment for them to develop mines.
Roland had no idea about how many components could be separated out of that unique crude oil, so he just asked the Chief Alchemist to have some experiments first before making a further plan.
Luckily, the distilled components so far showed a very inspiring prospect.
"No doubt that Blackwater can be used to make dreadful weapons, but it can do far more than that," Roland answered as he picked up the beaker and studied it carefully. "There's much we can benefit from it, even only from its high combustion heat. I'll let you know one day."
The best way to motivate a straightforward man like the Chief Alchemist would be raising his interest with new knowledge.
Roland laughed in silence as he saw the old man's desire was apparently not satisfied. He continued, "As to the experiment, it's not enough to just use several retorts and condenser pipes if we mean to put Blackwater into use. You have to figure out some plans, like the way we produce dioic acids, that will enable mass production"
The principle of oil separation was very simple, which could be regarded as the most basic chemical knowledge. Upon being heated, the raw oil would turn into steam that would later enter the connected distillation tower, where the steam of different components would successively condense due to their different boiling points. During this procedure, the finished oils such as gasoline, kerosene, diesel, heavy oil, etc. could be collected. The process was a complete physical transformation, so it would be very easy to achieve those materials under the current experiment condition.
Although the utilization rate of the raw oil of the modern world had been significantly improved as the technology of refinement was diversifying, the traditional distillation was still useful. As such, distillation was still the first choice when they did not take the cost factor into account.
Kyle Sichi was too well aware of the difficulty they would face if they wanted to upscale any lab experiments to a more complicated mass industrial production. He had to take lots of details into account if they were going to put the distillation into practical production.
The old alchemist stroked his beard and said, "Um... I need a few days to plan it out, and I want the Witch Union's assistance."
That was a good sign that he asked for assistance from the witch voluntarily. Roland nodded. "Just let me know if you want anything. I'll see to it."
"Thank you, Your Majesty," Kyle said, weighing his words. "Apart from this, I have one more small request."
"Oh? Go ahead."
"May I have the honor to see the new invention made from them when it's ready?" His voice was full of curiosity.
Theoretically speaking, the old alchemist had gone a little overboard since the project was meant to remain confidential. It was just like an engineer responsible for extracting uranium ore wanted to know the entire Manhattan plan. But Roland agreed after a short contemplation. After all, a little incentive could raise his passion for work, and Roland was confident that there was nobody who could compete with Neverwinter in terms of science and technology level in this era.
"You have to work hard." Roland pointed at the separated liquids and said, "The sooner you get the finished product, the earlier you will know the answer to your question."
"Pardon me, Your Majesty... Do you mean all of them?" Kyle asked in amazement. "They were indeed all combustible, but the liquid distilled in the lower tower was no better than snow powder. It produces thick smokes and doesn't burn well, not even good for lights. "
"This guy, whose mind was still clinging to the explosive, takes any products that are less active as wastes," Roland thought. It was true that the light distillates in the upper tower were more inflammable and its flame was more vigorous, but their usages were unexpectedly limited in practice. Without additives, even the slightest mistake would set them off, so they were barely helpful under the current condition. Instead, he favored the diesel and heavy oil distilled in the lower tower.
No doubt diesel would be a perfect fuel for the internal combustion engine. Even those mixed with impurities resulting from the inferior process were usable in practice. Their only problem was creating thick black smoke and thereby caused pollution when they burned, but that barely troubled Roland at this moment.
Heavy oil would play an essential role in navigation and was the optimal fuel for steam-powered boats. The current coal-powered boat might work well in inland rivers, but it was not powerful enough to sail on the sea, where the boat required huge power that coal failed to provide. To be honest, it had already been a laborious task for the boat to travel form Fjords to Shallow Beach of the Western Region. Therefore, Roland wanted to build Festive Harbor at the Endless Cape where he could supply oil to the steam-powered boat that was planning to cross the Sealine and enter the open ocean.
Furthermore, the requirement of producing heavy oil was the lowest. The roughly distilled heavy oil, even those mixed with asphaltic residue, was usable, so it might be one that could be most easily obtained in the oil family.
Of course, Roland would not tell Kyle about that. He could not guarantee anything before he got the finished oil. If the final result ran countered to his original deduction, it would taint his reputation for being omniscient. So he just shrugged and said, "All the oil components, including the residues and scraps, must be collected and categorized. They'll be useful for me."
"Yes, Your Majesty," the Chief Alchemist said with his hand across his chest.
"By the way." As Roland walked out of the room, he suddenly stopped at the lab doorway. He turned to look at Kyle and added, "Set up a tutorial session."
That took Kyle by surprise. He blurted out, "What?"
"I thought I've made my idea clear in the last agriculture meeting. We need to add an agriculture class to our secondary education curriculum. That will help us to train enough qualified men to handle the situation even if when we are going to spread Golden Twos to the entire kingdom," Roland elaborated. "And new plants will require more skilled people. As far as I can see, there're many people who intend to join the chemistry industry after finishing their universal education. You'd better have them trained before using them in case they mess everything up in the plant due to the lack of experience."
Letting people choose courses they were interested in was the same as college students select their own majors. Here in Neverwinter, the process took place earlier in middle school. Roland had thought on this matter for a long time, and he believed that since there was no time to train people with various skills currently, he had better start with training professional workers as soon as possible.
"Your Majesty, wasn't Lady Scroll supposed to... be responsible for that?"
"She handles the sections of recruitment, class composition, evaluation, and payroll, but the teacher must be from Ministry of Chemical Industry, so you have to see to it."
Kyle let out a sigh of relief as if he would have obeyed everything as long as Roland did not push him to teach students. His miserable memory was as fresh as yesterday. He had suffered enough during the process of recruiting and training some alchemy apprentices in order to earn "Intermediate Chemistry" from Roland. Kyle replied, "I see, Your Majesty." "I think the alchemists from the king's city, who were adept at public speaking and advertising, are quite qualified for the teaching position. Do you think so?"