Increase in the voltage acting upon a solid conductor increases the current through it, but in the case of the electric arc an increase in current is accompanied by a fall in the difference of potential of the carbons, within certain limits, and the arc has therefore been said to possess a negative resistance.'
The carbons can thus, by the application of suitable mechanism, be withdrawn from or plunged into the furnace at will.
When coal is heated to redness out of contact with the air, the more volatile constituents, water, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen are in great part expelled, a portion of the carbon being also volatilized in the form of hydro carbons and carbonic oxide,-the greater part, however, remaining behind, together with all the mineral matter or ash, in the form of coke, or, as it is also called, " fixed carbon."
The former includes electrodes, lamp carbons, &c. Coke, or some other form of amorphous carbon, is mixed with a little tar, and the required article moulded in a press or by a die.
Through stuffing-boxes at the ends passed the two electrodes, made after the fashion of arc-light carbons, and capable of being approached together according to the requirements of the operation.