Meritens, Baron Auguste de

Meritens, Baron Auguste de
b. 1834
d. 1898 Pontoise, France
French engineer who improved the design of magneto-electric generators successfully used for lighthouse illumination.
Founding the firm of Messrs A. de Meritens of Paris to build magneto-electric generators for electric arc lighting, de Meritens revised the arrangement of the Holmes and Alliance machines. By employing a distributed rotor winding on laminated cores in place of individual bobbins, the wave-form was improved and a continuous output was achieved, as distinct from a series of short-duration pulses. The rotor windings were carried on the periphery of spoked wheels which revolved below the poles of stationary compound permanent magnets. These generators came to prominence in 1880; in France they quickly replaced the Alliance machines in lighthouses, and Trinity House also installed them in Britain. Two examples remained in continuous service at the Lizard lighthouse in Cornwall from 1881 to 1950, and one still survives there as an exhibit. Before being installed, this machine was shown at the Paris Electrical Exhibition of 1881. An electric candle invented by de Meritens was a variation on that of Jablochkoff and he is credited with being the first to suggest the use of a carbon electrode as one pole for electric-arc welding, with the metal to be welded serving as the other pole. Baron de Meritens died tragically in great poverty.
April 1878, French patent no. 123,766 (improved magneto-electric generator). 17 September 1878, British patent no. 3,658 (improved magneto-electric generator).
Further Reading
Engineering (1878) 28:372 (a description of the original de Meritens machine).
J.Hopkinson, 1886–7, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers 87(1):243–60 (a report on machines in service).

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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