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THE WATER WHEEL

V. Ryan © 2005 - 2009

 

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Water has been used to power industry for hundreds years. The example below shows a water wheel being driven round by a river / stream. As the water wheel turns, a shaft running through its centre would be used to power machines through a range of pulleys. This was the main form of power during the early years of the Industrial Revolution.

Water wheels were the fore-runner of our modern day water driven electrical turbines.

To increase the power provided by water a dam is added. This is seen in the diagram below. The dam allows a ‘head’ of water to build up. The water can be release when power is needed to drive machines inside the building/factory. This system provides more power because:

1. A powerful ‘head’ of water is built up behind the dam.
2. When the water is released, it is directed to the top of the water wheel. The wheel spins faster because gravity aids the falling water, pushing the wheel round at a higher speed.

   

   

Another advantage of this type of system is that even during dry periods, water can be allowed to slowly build up behind the dam. It can then be used to power machines. In dry periods a river or stream may be shallow and flow slowly. However, the dam allows water to be stored until there is enough to drive the machines inside the building.

   
 
   

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