By Mark Halper
Posting in Energy
First the Queen did it on the River Thames near Windsor Castle. Now a London park heads to the river to turn the ancient Archimedes screw upside down and generate electricity. Watch videos.
First the Queen did it, on the River Thames near Windsor Castle. Now the operators of a public stately home and park in London are doing it and, like Her Majesty, have headed to a river bank to pull off the deed.
The owners of Morden Hall Park have installed an ancient piece of machinery, called an Archimedes screw, to power their visitor center. Following the Queen's example, they've essentially turned the idea of the screw upside down. Greek philosopher and mathematician Archimedes of Syracuse invented the contraption over 2,000 years ago as a way to lift water from a river to irrigate crops. In his application, turn a hand crank and water rises up the threads (see videos below).
But as "green" engineers have discovered, if you let water run over one in a tumbling river weir, the screw spins enough to drive an electricity generator. As an environmental bonus, proponents say the screw is gentle on wildlife - ie, it does not mangle fish the way larger hydro machines can.
Morden Hall's website estimates that the screw will generate "59,000 kWh a year - about 12 times as much electricity as an average household uses." The Guardian newspaper, which observed engineers maneuver the screw into place this week, reports its capacity at a modest 8.5 kilowatts, "enough power for 18 average-sized houses in the UK."
Either way, the screw is part of a movement toward local electricity generation through small scale, renewable energy projects.
The two Archimedes screws that the Queen installed on the Thames are to power Windsor Castle, her little suburban retreat outside of London.
Both Morden Hall Park and the Queen bought their screws from Holland.
Morden Hall is a former snuff mill where water wheels once turned millstones that crushed tobacco into powder, so when the screws start operating in September, they'll mark a full circle back to river power. It's owned by The National Trust, a non-profit conservation group that buys and protects heritage and beauty sites.
Here's Flickr video of an Archimedes screw in action at River Dart Country Park in Devon, Southwest England:
Here's a commercial YouTube video from Dutch company Spaans Babcock advertising its Archimedes screw and explaining how it works:
I couldn't find any 2,000-year-old footage of an original Archimedes screw irrigating ancient Greek fields. But here are a couple of YouTube videos that give you a flavor. Disclaimer: the first involves children that some readers might consider annoying ("after we made our hovercraft, we decided to make an Archimedes screw," screeches one); the second is in a language you might not understand. Nevertheless, they are visual and informative:
Shouldn't they be playing baseball? -
You'll at least make out the phrase "Archimedes screw" -
Photos and Videos: River Dart from Adrian Midgley via Flickr. Spaan Babcock screw from Vivid Photo Visual via YouTube. Kids from Meemer115 via YouTube. Second demo from Pratham Science Group via YouTube.
Note: Story updated July 21, 3:25 a.m. Pacific to elevate Queen to loftier "Majesty", above original, lowlier, "Highness." Thanks to the reader who wrote in pointing out the unwitting egregious error. Apologies - no snub intended.
Mores screws and hydropower on SmartPlanet:
- Hydropower: Queen gets screwed. Bristol's next.
- Royally screwed on the River Thames
- Iceland Cometh
- Osmotic power pushes closer to reality
Jul 19, 2012
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The world is going more with SOLAR, Wind and Geothermal Powered Energy. Speaking of Geothermal Curt Lubben is just one of many sales representatives that has sold over a million dollars of Renewable Energy in less then 365 days in the year 2011. The day of the need for Dirty Oil, Coal and Dangerous Nuclear Power are coming to a end fast. The Freedom Element Living with Hydrogen That Dr. Addison Bain has showed the world will free most all of the need for the Power Grid and Oil CEO's. Very soon most of the world will not need Oil or Dangerous and Disastrous Nuclear Power. Renewable Energy like Solar, Wind, Hydro and Geothermal are now replacing dirty Energy like Oil and Nuclear. Solar Energy is growing World Wide at a record pace. Hybrid Cars are being sold all over the Earth. Soon Hybrid Vehicles that run on Electric / Hydrogen, The Freedom Element. Will free the world from Oil and Unsafe Power. 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They'll be re-inventing the water-wheel down t'mill next. Can't help but hing a more modern micro hydro solution would be more efficient, than installing an Archimedes screw, but good on them, for trying.
They must have read a good history book to pickup this trick. I have one of these sitting in a mill built in the 1860s less than 5 miles from my house. It powered a system of belts before electricity powered the looms. Good for them to use this, but there is nothing revolutionary about rediscovering old technology.