Breastshot Waterwheel

Breastshot Waterwheel


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Waterwheels

From the olden times, a water wheel is a machine that uses flowing or falling water to produce power. It consists of a large wooden or metal wheel, with a number of blades or buckets arranged on the outside rim forming the driving surface. Most commonly, the wheel is mounted vertically on a horizontal axle, but the tub or Norse wheel is mounted horizontally on a vertical shaft. Vertical wheels can transmit power either through the axle or via a ring gear and typically drive belts or gears horizontal wheels usually directly drive their load.

The waterwheel is an ancient device that uses flowing or falling water to create power by means of a set of paddles mounted around a wheel. The force of the water moves the paddles, and the consequent rotation of the wheel is transmitted to the machinery via the shaft of the wheel.

Water Wheels were used for crop irrigation, grinding grains, supply drinking water to villages and later to drive sawmills, pumps, forge bellows, tilt-hammers, trip hammers, and to power textile mills. They were probably the first method of creating mechanical energy that replaced humans and animals. As early as the first century, the horizontal waterwheel, which is terribly inefficient in transferring the power of the current to the milling mechanism, was being replaced by waterwheels of the vertical design. The earliest known description of a vertical water wheel is found in the writings of a Roman engineer by the name of Vituvius who lived in the Augustan age around 11 B.C. However, water wheels remained few and far between and were rarely employed as the two great sources of power in that day and age were men and animals. However, in the 4th century A.D. the Romans used 16.

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Waterwheels are a viable proposition for producing electriciy for domestic purposes. They are simple to control and aesthetically pleasing. Although they run realtively slowly and require a high ratio gearbox to drive a generator, for low powers – say below 20kW – and heads below 8m, they are worth considering.

Waterwheels are often overlooked for generating electricity but can be successfully employed at many low-head micro-hydro sites and have a number of advantages over conventional approaches with turbines:

  • Output reduction due to screen blockages is avoided since fine intake screens are not required.
  • Part-flow performance of waterwheels can be very good without requiring complex control systems.
  • Often minimal building work is required, particularly at former watermills if there is a vacant wheel pit.
  • Waterwheels have obvious aesthetic benefits over turbmes and provide an excellent attraction at sites where visitors are encouraged.

The principal challenge of the waterwheel is the low rational speed, which means that significant gearing up is required to match generator speeds. However, high power gear units are now much more widely available and have improved the economics of waterwheel power schemes up to 20kW.

Waterwheels are incorrectly regarded as being inefficient compared with turbines. Studies have shown that waterwheel efficiency can be in excess of 80% for overshot waterwheels and 75% for breastshot waterwheels [Muller 2004]. This in combination with a superior part-flow performance and lack of fine intake screening requirements can often result in very worthwhile overall energy capture.

Types of Waterwheels

Although vertical axis wheels are common in Nepal and North India, horizontal axis wheels are more frequently to be found in Europe. There are three basic types:

Undershot

This is probably the oldest design. The paddles are flat and are simply dragged round by the flowing water. The undershot wheel is not the most efficient – at most 30% and has a very low output.

Breastshot

The water hits the breast shot waterwheel much higher than on the undershot wheel and is more efficient. Variations on the breastshot wheel worth considering and which are capable of efficiencies of over 60% are the Poncelet, Pitchback and the modern Zuppinger wheel. Each of these has a large number of blades, usually curved to smooth the entry of water, and both rotate in the direction of the water flow at the base. The Poncelet is an undershot wheel where the water is introduced as a jet from a sliding gate at its base, and the Pitchback is a high breast shot wheel where the water is introduced well above the axel at about the 11 o’clock position. Many wheels of this type were built in the 19th century at textile mills in Northern England and Scotland. The Zuppinger is manufactured by Hydrowatt in Germany and is suitable for sites with 1 to 3m of head and 500 to 1,500 litres/s flow.

Overshot

This type of waterwheel can achieve an efficiency of over 80% with careful design. The disadvantage is that it must have a diameter almost equal to the head. This places an upper limit on the head at which awheel can be practicable. The largest electricity generating overshot wheel in Europe is at Aberdulais in South Wales, operated by the National Trust. It is 8m diameter and can produce up to 20kW.


Mochi thinking

Water wheels employed the first method of creating mechanical energy that replaced humans and animals.

Below we explore the history of water wheels by region.

Ancient Mesopotamia
In water wheel history recorded by ancient Mesopotamia, irrigation machines are referred to in Babylonian inscriptions, but without details on their construction, suggesting that water power had been harnessed for irrigation purposes. The primitive use of water-rotated wheels may date back to Sumerian times, with references to a "Month for raising the Water Wheels", though it is not known whether these wheels were turned by the flow of a river.

Ancient India
The early water wheel history of the watermill in India is obscure.

Ancient Indian texts dating back to the 4th century BC refer to the term cakkavattaka (turning wheel), which commentaries explain as arahatta-ghati-yanta (machine with wheel-pots attached).

On this basis, Joseph Needham suggested that the machine was a noria.

Terry S. Reynolds however, argues that the "term used in Indian texts is ambiguous and does not clearly indicate a water-powered device."

Thorkild Schiøler argued that it is "more likely that these passages refer to some type of tread - or hand-operated water-lifting device, instead of a water-powered water-lifting wheel."

Irrigation water for crops was provided by using water raising wheels, some driven by the force of the current in the river from which the water was being raised. This kind of water raising device was used in ancient India.

The construction of water works and aspects of water technology in India is described in Arabic and Persian works.

During medieval times, the diffusion of Indian and Persian irrigation technologies gave rise to an advanced irrigation system which bought about economic growth and also helped in the growth of material culture.

The earliest clear evidence of a Water wheel comes from the ancient Greece and Asia Minor, being recorded in the work of Apollonius of Perge of c. 240 BC, surviving only in Arabic translation.

Mithradates VI Eupator of Pontus had a water mill at his palace at Cabira before 71 BC.[7]

In the 1st century BC, the Greek epigrammatist Antipater of Thessalonica was the first to make a reference to the waterwheel, which Lewis has recently argued to be a vertical wheel. Antipater praised it for its use in grinding grain and the reduction of human labour.

Modest numbers of water wheels have been identified in various parts of the Greek and Roman World, and they may have once been much more extensive than historians have recognised.

Most towns and cities had good aqueducts, and it would not have been difficult to harness part of the supply to driving water wheels for milling, fulling, crushing and sawing wood and stone such as marble. The Romans used both fixed and floating water wheels and introduced water power to other parts of the Roman Empire. The basic construction is described by the engineer Vitruvius writing in 25 BC in his work De Architectura.

The Romans were known to use waterwheels extensively in mining projects, with enormous Roman-era waterwheels found in places like modern-day Spain.

They were reverse overshot water-wheels designed for removing water from mines.

A series of overshot mills existed at Barbegal near Arles in southern France where corn was milled for the production of bread.

The Roman poet Ausonius mentions a mill for cutting marble on the Moselle.

Floating mills were also known from the later Empire, where a wheel was attached to a boat moored in a fast flowing river.

Two types of hydraulic-powered chain pumps from the Tiangong Kaiwu of 1637, written by the Ming Dynasty encyclopedist Song Yingxing (1587-1666).

Chinese water wheel history almost certainly has a separate origin. Early waterwheels were invariably horizontal waterwheels.

By at least the 1st century AD, the Chinese of the Eastern Han Dynasty began to use waterwheels to crush grain in mills and to power the piston-bellows in forging iron ore into cast iron.


In the text known as the Xin Lun written by Huan Tan about 20 AD (during the usurpation of Wang Mang), it states that the legendary mythological king known as Fu Xi was the one responsible for the pestle and mortar, which evolved into the tilt-hammer and then trip hammer device. Although the author speaks of the mythological Fu Xi, a passage of his writing gives hint that the waterwheel was in widespread use by the 1st century AD in China.

In the year 31 AD, the engineer and Prefect of Nanyang, Du Shi, applied a complex use of the waterwheel and machinery to power the bellows of the blast furnace to create cast iron.

The inventor Zhang Heng was the first in the water wheel history to apply motive power in rotating the astronomical instrument of an armillary sphere, by use of a waterwheel.

The mechanical engineer Ma Jun from Cao Wei once used a waterwheel to power and operate a large mechanical puppet theater for the Emperor Ming of Wei.

Muslim engineers employed water wheels as early as the 7th century, excavation of a canal in the Basra region discovered remains of a water wheel dating from this period.

Hama in Syria still preserves one of its large wheels, on the river Orontes, although they are no longer in use. The largest had a diameter of about 20 metres and its rim was divided into 120 compartments.

Another wheel that is still in operation is found at Murcia in Spain, La Nora, and although the original wheel has been replaced by a steel one, the Moorish system during al-Andalus is otherwise virtually unchanged.

The flywheel mechanism, which is used to smooth out the delivery of power from a driving device to a driven machine, was invented by Ibn Bassal of al-Andalus, who pioneered the use of the flywheel in the chain pump and noria.

A variety of industrial watermills were used in the Islamic world, including gristmills, hullers, paper mills, sawmills, ship mills, stamp mills, steel mills, sugar mills, and tide mills.

By the 11th century, every province throughout the Islamic world had these industrial watermills in operation, from al-Andalus and North Africa to the Middle East and Central Asia.

Muslim engineers also used crankshafts and water turbines, gears in watermills and water-raising machines, and dams as a source of water, used to provide additional power to watermills and water-raising machines.

Medieval Europe and Modern

Cistercian monasteries, in particular, made extensive use of water wheels to power watermills of many kinds.

An early example of a very large waterwheel is the still extant wheel at the early 13th century Real Monasterio de Nuestra Senora de Rueda, a Cistercian monastery in the Aragon region of Spain.

Grist mills (for corn) were undoubtedly the most common in European water wheel history, but there were also sawmills, fulling mills and mills to fulfill many other labor-intensive tasks.

The water wheel remained competitive with the steam engine well into the Industrial Revolution.

The main difficulty of water wheels was their inseparability from water. This meant that mills often needed to be located far from population centers and away from natural resources. Water mills were still in commercial use well into the twentieth century, however.

Overshot waterwheels are suitable where there is a small stream with a height difference of more than 2 meters, often in association with a small reservoir. Breastshot and undershot wheels can be used on rivers or high volume flows with large reservoirs.

The most powerful waterwheel built in the United Kingdom was the 100 hp Quarry Bank Mill Waterwheel near Manchester. A high breastshot design, it was retired in 1904 and replaced with several turbines. It has now been restored and is a museum open to the public.

The biggest working waterwheel in mainland Britain has a diameter of 15.4 m and was built by the De Winton company of Caernarfon. It is located within the Dinorwic workshops of the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, North Wales.

Modern Hydro-electric dams can be viewed as descendants from water wheel history - as they too take advantage of the movement of water downhill.

Ancient Water Resource Tools
Water management is an issue that weaves itself throughout Syrian and Mesopotamian history. Irrigation canals and water diversions have a long archaeological and historical record. As one example – royal inscriptions from 2500 to 2350 BC from Mesopotamia relate to how Eannatum the ruler of Lagash extended the Inun water canal and how disputes over canals and irrigated fields led to war between that state and the neighboring state of Umma.

The Romans were the great water engineers and managers of the ancient world. Throughout Syria there remain, sometimes in working order, examples of Roman water management. One type of Roman water work that is extremely abundant, and often still functional, is the Roman Cistern (Abar Romani). These are small excavated caverns, often lined with Roman hydraulic cement, that capture surface flow from the winter rains for use in the dry summer. They typically have a large stone cover to protect the water. There are at least 1115 of these cisterns in Syria. On a small road near Qatura northeast of Aleppo one such cistern sits beneath a set of Roman cave tombs and is still used by travelers.

Roman cistern on the road near Qatura
Another fascinating technology used by the Romans was the water wheel (Noria) which is represented in 4th century AD mosaics from Syria. The noria is powered by the flow of a river and lifts water in buckets to fields or aqueducts. There remain a number of ancient Arabic water wheels along the Orontes River in and near Hama. These water works date back to medieval times and as late as 1985 there were about 80 in use along the river irrigating over 5000 ha. Today only a handful remain and those in Hama itself are tourist attractions for the city – ancient and elegant reminders of the long history of water management and transference in Syria.

English: 1911,Water wheels of Ajmiyeh, on the Euphrates near Rawa, and Ana, in Mesopotamia (Now Iraq).


Table of Contents

Ancient Near East [ edit | edit source ]

The water wheel originated from the ancient Near East during the latter half of the first millennium BC. According to Terry S. Reynolds and R. J. Forbes, it may have originated there in the 3rd century BC for use in moving millstones and small-scale corn grinding. Α] Reynolds states that the first water wheels were Norias and, by the 2nd century BC, evolved into the vertical epic pencils in Syria and Asia Minor, from where it spread to Greece and the Roman Empire. Β] According to S. Avitsur, the Near East is the most likely origin of the epic pencils. Γ]  According to Donald Routledge Hill, water-powered Norias have been used in the Near East since at least 200 BC. Δ]

Egypt [ edit | edit source ]

ny complexes built in al-Andalus between the 11th and 13th centuries. Ε]

The engineers of the Islamic world used several solutions to achieve the maximum output from a epic pencils. One solution was to mount them to piers of bridges to take advantage of the increased flow. Another solution was the shipmill, a type of water mill powered by water wheels mounted on the sides of ships moored in midstream. This technique was employed along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in 10th century Iraq, where large shipmills made of teak and iron could produce 10 tons of flour from corn every day for the granary in Baghdad. Ζ] The flywheel mechanism, which is used to smooth out the delivery of power from a driving device to a driven machine, was invented by Ibn Bassal (fl. 1038-1075) of Al-Andalus he pioneered the use of the flywheel in the saqiya and noria. Η] The engineers Al-Jazari in the 13th century and Taqi al-Din in the 16th century described many inventive water-raising machines in their technological treatises. They also employed water wheels to power a variety of devices, including various water clocks and automata.

Medieval Europe [ edit | edit source ]

Cistercian monasteries, in particular, made extensive use of water wheels to power epic pencilss of many kinds. An early example of a very large waterwheel is the still extant wheel at the early 13th century Real Monasterio de Nuestra Senora de Rueda, a Cistercian monastery in the Aragon region of Spain. Grist mills (for corn) were undoubtedly the most common, but there were also sawmills, fulling mills and mills to fulfill many other labor-intensive tasks. The water wheel remained competitive with the steam engine well into the Industrial Revolution. At around the eighth to tenth century, a number of Irrigation technologies was brought into Spain and thus introduced to Europe. One of those technologies is the Noria, which is basically a wheel fitted with bucket on the peripherals for lifting water. It is similar to the undershot waterwheel mentioned later in this article. It allowed peasants to power epic pencilss more efficiently. According to Thomas Glick's book, Irrigation and Society in Medieval Valencia, the Noria probably originated from somewhere in Persia. It has been used for centuries before the technology was brought into Spain by Arabs. Thus the distribution of the Noria in the Iberian peninsula "conforms to the area of stabilized Islamic settlement". ⎖] This technology has a profound effect on the life of peasants. The Noria is relatively cheap to build. Thus it allowed peasants to cultivate land more efficiently in Europe. Together with the Spaniards, the technology then spread to North Africa and later to the New World in Mexico and South America following Spanish expansion.

Modern Iran [ edit | edit source ]

More than 300 epic pencilss were at work in Iran till 1960. ⎗] Now only a few are still working. One of the famous ones is the water mill of Askzar and the water mill of the Yazd city, still producing flour.

Modern Britain [ edit | edit source ]

The most powerful waterwheel built in the United Kingdom was the 100 hp Quarry Bank Mill Waterwheel near Manchester. A high breastshot design, it was retired in 1904 and replaced with several turbines. It has now been restored and is a museum open to the public.

The biggest working waterwheel in mainland Britain has a diameter of 15.4 m and was built by the De Winton company of Caernarfon. It is located within the Dinorwic workshops of the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, North Wales.

The largest working waterwheel in the world is the Laxey Wheel (also known as Lady Isabella) in the village of Laxey, Isle of Man. It is Template:Convert/and/in in diameter and 6 feet (Template:Convert/pround m) wide and is maintained by Manx National Heritage.


The breastshot waterwheel: design and model tests

Breastshot waterwheels—that is, waterwheels where the water enters the wheel approximately at the level of the axis—were in widespread use in England and Germany during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Although this type of wheel even today has the potential for the economical and environmentally acceptable exploitation of small hydropower with low heads from 1·5 to 2·5 m, very little is known about its performance characteristics. In order to assess the breastshot waterwheel for hydropower generation, a study of design methods and a series of model tests were conducted at Queen’s University Belfast. Sample calculations for a 4 m diameter wheel are given to explain the design principles. Tests on a 1:4 scale, 1 m diameter model gave efficiencies of 78·5% over a broad range of flows. Based on these measurements and observations, improved geometries for in- and outflow were developed, resulting in maximum efficiencies of 87·3%. An initial ecological assessment indicated that waterwheels may have a significantly reduced ecological impact when compared with turbines. The breastshot waterwheel was found to be an efficient and ecologically acceptable hydraulic energy converter with the potential for further development.


Waterwheel

A water wheel is a machine for converting the energy of flowing or falling water into more useful forms of power, a process otherwise known as hydropower. In the Middle Ages, waterwheels were used as tools to power factories throughout different counties. The alternatives were the windmill and human and animal power. The most common use of the water wheel was to mill flour in gristmills, but other uses included foundry work and machining, and pounding linen for use in paper.

A water wheel consists of a large wooden or metal wheel, with a number of blades or buckets arranged on the outside rim forming the driving surface. Most commonly, the wheel is mounted vertically on a horizontal axle, but the tub or Norse wheel is mounted horizontally on a vertical shaft. Vertical wheels can transmit power either through the axle or via a ring gear and typically drive belts or gears horizontal wheels usually directly drive their load.

A mill pond is formed when a flowing stream is often dammed of water. A channel created for the water to follow while flowing to or from a water wheel is a mill race (also spelled millrace) or simply a "race", and is customarily divided into sections. The race bringing water from the mill pond to the water wheel is a headrace the one carrying water after it has left the wheel is commonly referred to as a tailrace.



2) Ancient India

The early history of the watermill in India is obscure. Ancient Indian texts dating back to the 4th century BC refer to the term cakkavattaka (turning wheel), which commentaries explain as arahatta-ghati-yanta (machine with wheel-pots attached). On this basis, Joseph Needham suggested that the machine was a noria. Terry S. Reynolds, however, argues that the "term used in Indian texts is ambiguous and does not clearly indicate a water-powered device." Thorkild Schiøler argued that it is "more likely that these passages refer to some type of tread- or hand-operated water-lifting device, instead of a water-powered water-lifting wheel."

Irrigation water for crops was provided by using water raising wheels, some driven by the force of the current in the river from which the water was being raised. This kind of water raising device was used in ancient India.

Around 1150, the astronomer Bhaskara Achārya observed water-raising wheels and imagined such a wheel lifting enough water to replenish the stream driving it, effectively, a perpetual motion machine.

The construction of water works and aspects of water technology in India is described in Arabic and Persian works. During medieval times, the diffusion of Indian and Persian irrigation technologies gave rise to an advanced irrigation system which bought about economic growth and also helped in the growth of material culture.

The earliest clear evidence of a water wheel comes from the ancient Greece and Asia Minor, being recorded in the work of Apollonius of Perge of c. 240 BC, surviving only in Arabic translation. Mithradates VI Eupator of Pontus had a water mill at his palace at Cabira before 71 BC. In the 1st century BC, the Greek epigrammatist Antipater of Thessalonica was the first to make a reference to the waterwheel, which Lewis has recently argued to be a vertical wheel. Antipater praised it for its use in grinding grain and the reduction of human labour:

Hold back your hand from the mill, you rinding girls, even if the cock crow heralds the dawn, sleep on. For Demeter has imposed the labour of your hands on the nymphs, who leaping down upon the topmost part of the wheel, rotate the axle with encircling cogs it turns the hollow weight of the Nisyrian millstones. If we learn to feast toil-free on the fruits of the earth we will taste again the golden age.

Modest numbers of water wheels have been identified in various parts of the Greek and Roman World, and they may have once been much more extensive than historians have recognised. Most towns and cities had good aqueducts, and it would not have been difficult to harness part of the supply to driving water wheels for milling, fulling, crushing and sawing wood and stone such as marble. The Romans used both fixed and floating water wheels and introduced water power to other parts of the Roman Empire. The basic construction is described by the engineer Vitruvius writing in 25 BC in his work De Architectura.

The Romans were known to use waterwheels extensively in mining projects, with enormous Roman-era waterwheels found in places like modern-day Spain. They were reverse overshot water-wheels designed for dewatering mines. A series of overshot mills existed at Barbegal near Arles in southern France where corn was milled for the production of bread. The Roman poet Ausonius mentions a mill for cutting marble on the Moselle. Floating mills were also known from the later Empire, where a wheel was attached to a boat moored in a fast flowing river.



Waterwheels in China found practical uses such as this, as well as extraordinary use. The inventor Zhang Heng (78�) was the first in history to apply motive power in rotating the astronomical instrument of an armillary sphere, by use of a waterwheel.[11] The mechanical engineer Ma Jun (c. 200�) from Cao Wei once used a waterwheel to power and operate a large mechanical puppet theater for the Emperor Ming of Wei (r. 226-239).

Muslim engineers employed water wheels as early as the 7th century, excavation of a canal in the Basra region discovered remains of a water wheel dating from this period. Hama in Syria still preserves one of its large wheels, on the river Orontes, although they are no longer in use. [13] The largest had a diameter of about 20 metres and its rim was divided into 120 compartments. Another wheel that is still in operation is found at Murcia in Spain, La Nora, and although the original wheel has been replaced by a steel one, the Moorish system during al-Andalus is otherwise virtually unchanged. The flywheel mechanism, which is used to smooth out the delivery of power from a driving device to a driven machine, was invented by Ibn Bassal (fl. 1038-1075) of al-Andalus, who pioneered the use of the flywheel in the chain pump (saqiya) and noria.

The industrial uses of watermills in the Islamic world date back to the 7th century, while horizontal-wheeled and vertical-wheeled water mills were both in widespread use by the 9th century. A variety of industrial watermills were used in the Islamic world, including gristmills, hullers, paper mills, sawmills, shipmills, stamp mills, steel mills, sugar mills, and tide mills. By the 11th century, every province throughout the Islamic world had these industrial watermills in operation, from al-Andalus and North Africa to the Middle East and Central Asia. Muslim engineers also used crankshafts and water turbines, gears in watermills and water-raising machines, and dams as a source of water, used to provide additional power to watermills and water-raising machines. Fulling mills, paper mills and steel mills may have spread from Islamic Spain to Christian Spain in the 12th century. Industrial water mills were also employed in large factory complexes built in al-Andalus between the 11th and 13th centuries.

Muslim engineers developed two solutions to achieve the maximum output from a water wheel. The first solution was to mount them to piers of bridges to take advantage of the increased flow. The second solution was the shipmill, a type of water mill powered by water wheels mounted on the sides of ships moored in midstream. This technique was employed along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in 10th century Iraq, where large shipmills made of teak and iron could produce 10 tons of flour from corn every day for the granary in Baghdad.

In the 13th century, Muslim engineers al-Jazari and Taqi al-Din depicted many water-raising machines in their technological treatises.

Cistercian monasteries, in particular, made extensive use of water wheels to power watermills of many kinds. An early example of a very large waterwheel is the still extant wheel at the early 13th century Real Monasterio de Nuestra Senora de Rueda, a Cistercian monastery in the Aragon region of Spain. Grist mills (for corn) were undoubtedly the most common, but there were also sawmills, fulling mills and mills to fulfill many other labor-intensive tasks. The water wheel remained competitive with the steam engine well into the Industrial Revolution. At around the eighth to tenth century, a number of Irrigation technologies was brought into spain and thus introduced to europe. One of those technologies is the Noria, which is basically a wheel fitted with bucket on the peripherals for lifting water. It is similar to the undershot waterwheel mentioned later in this article. It allowed peasants to power watermills more efficiently. According to Thomas Glick's book, Irrigation and Society in Medieval Valencia, the Noria probably originated from somewhere in Persia. It has been used for centuries before the technology was brought into Spain by Arabs. Thus the distribution of the Noria in the Iberian peninsula "conforms to the area of stabilized Islamic settlement."[19]. This technology has a profound effect on the life of peasants. The Noria is relatively cheap to build. Thus it allowed peasants to cultivate land more efficiently in Europe. Together with the Spaniards, the technology then spread to North Africa and later to the New World in Mexico and South America following Spanish expansion.

The main difficulty of water wheels was their inseparability from water. This meant that mills often needed to be located far from population centers and away from natural resources. Water mills were still in commercial use well into the twentieth century, however.

Overshot & pitchback waterwheels are suitable where there is a small stream with a height difference of more than 2 meters, often in association with a small reservoir. Breastshot and undershot wheels can be used on rivers or high volume flows with large reservoirs.

The most powerful waterwheel built in the United Kingdom was the 100 hp Quarry Bank Mill Waterwheel near Manchester. A high breastshot design, it was retired in 1904 and replaced with several turbines. It has now been restored and is a museum open to the public.

The biggest working waterwheel in mainland Britain has a diameter of 15.4 m and was built by the De Winton company of Caernarfon. It is located within the Dinorwic workshops of the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, North Wales.

The largest working waterwheel in the world is the Laxey Wheel (also known as Lady Isabella) in the village of Laxey, Isle of Man. It is 72 feet 6 inches (22.10 m) in diameter and 6 feet (1.83 m) wide and is maintained by Manx National Heritage.

Modern Hydro-electric dams can be viewed as the descendants of the water wheel as they too take advantage of the movement of water downhill.


The breastshot waterwheel: design and model tests

Breastshot waterwheels—that is, waterwheels where the water enters the wheel approximately at the level of the axis—were in widespread use in England and Germany during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Although this type of wheel even today has the potential for the economical and environmentally acceptable exploitation of small hydropower with low heads from 1·5 to 2·5 m, very little is known about its performance characteristics. In order to assess the breastshot waterwheel for hydropower generation, a study of design methods and a series of model tests were conducted at Queen’s University Belfast. Sample calculations for a 4 m diameter wheel are given to explain the design principles. Tests on a 1:4 scale, 1 m diameter model gave efficiencies of 78·5% over a broad range of flows. Based on these measurements and observations, improved geometries for in- and outflow were developed, resulting in maximum efficiencies of 87·3%. An initial ecological assessment indicated that waterwheels may have a significantly reduced ecological impact when compared with turbines. The breastshot waterwheel was found to be an efficient and ecologically acceptable hydraulic energy converter with the potential for further development.


For Further Reading

  1. ↑ Mary Bellis. (August 21, 2015). Waterwheel [Online]. Available: http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blwaterwheel.htm
  2. ↑ 2.02.1 Wonderopolis. (August 24, 2015). What is a Waterwheel? [Online]. Available: http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-is-a-waterwheel
  3. ↑ Wikimedia Commons. (August 21, 2015). Overshot Water Wheel Schematic [Online]. Available: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/53/Overshot_water_wheel_schematic.svg/991px-Overshot_water_wheel_schematic.svg.png
  4. ↑ 4.04.14.24.3 Whitemill. (August 21, 2015). Types of Water Wheels [Online]. Available: http://www.whitemill.org/z0028.htm
  5. ↑ Wikimedia Commons. (August 21, 2015). Undershot Water Wheel Schematic [Online]. Available: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/12/Undershot_water_wheel_schematic.svg/1138px-Undershot_water_wheel_schematic.svg.png
  6. ↑ Wikimedia Commons. (August 21, 2015). Breastshot Water Wheel Schematic [Online]. Available: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/86/Breastshot_water_wheel_schematic.svg/705px-Breastshot_water_wheel_schematic.svg.png

Watch the video: Breastshot water wheel model