Saturday, October 29, 2011
240. Chinese Technologies Helped Franklin's Efforts
In Colonial North America, colonists usually built a fire place in their houses in the cold winter. This practice was neither safe nor efficient. Benjamin Franklin wanted to change that. He worked hard to find a more efficient way to make homes warmer and safer in the 1740s. From his own record we find that he was enlightened by the Chinese heating technology.
In Notes for the Letter on Chimneys (unpublished) in 1758, Franklin revealed his study of the Chinese heating technology. He wrote in the note, “ IT is said the northern Chinese have a method of warming their ground floors, which is ingenious. Those floors are made of tile a foot square and two inches thick, their corners being supported by bricks set on end, that are a foot long and four inches square, the tiles, too, join into each other, by ridges and hollows along their sides. This forms a hollow under the whole floor, which on one side of the house has an opening into the air, where a fire is made, and it has a funnel rising from the other side to carry off the smoke. The fuel is a sulphurous pitcoal, the smell of which in the room is thus avoided, while the floor and of course the room is well warmed.” Franklin, based on the Chinese principles, invented the Pennsylvania Fire Place. Better heating technology made the cold winter less harsh and induced more colonists to move to the North, which later contributed greatly to its development as a manufacturing center.