Waterwheels ~ Ancient Wheels of Power

Travelling throughout the country both here in Ireland and in the UK I see mills dotted around the countryside that are just derelict structures on a river bank and some that are working mills with water wheels generating electricity. The waterwheel is an ancient device that uses flowing or falling water to create power by means of a set of paddles or buckets mounted around a wheel. A waterwheel consists of a large wooden or metal wheel, with a number of paddles or buckets  arranged on the outside rim forming the driving surface. Most commonly, the wheel is mounted vertically on a horizontal axle.

Derelict Mill and Waterwheel

Derelict Mill and Waterwheel

Prior uses of water wheels include milling flour in gristmills and grinding wood into pulp for paper making, but other uses include hammering wrought iron, machining, ore crushing and pounding fibre for use in the manufacture of cloth.

Bretts Sion Mills

Working Waterwheel

On occasion the old water wheel is still insitu and can be refurbished but in many cases the wheel has been removed and sadly sold for scrap metal value or taken apart to be kept as keepsakes or used as garden ornaments.

Derelict Mill and Wa

Derelict Mill and Waterwheel

If a mill has a vacant wheel pit it is possible to construct a water wheel which is aesthetically pleasing and brings the character back to the old mill.

Waterwheel Components

Waterwheel Components

 

Completed laser cut waterwheel

Completed laser cut waterwheel

The installed laser cut waterwheel

The installed laser cut waterwheel

Advantages of waterwheels

Waterwheels are widely regarded as being rather inefficient compared with turbines. This is not necessarily the case as studies have shown that waterwheel efficiency can be in excess of 80% for Overshot waterwheels and 75% for Breast-shot waterwheels [Muller 2004]. This in combination with highly respectable part-flow performance and lack of fine intake screening requirements can often result in very worthwhile overall energy capture so are still a viable proposition for producing electricity for domestic purposes. They are simple to control and aesthetically pleasing. Although they run relatively slowly and require a high ratio gearbox to drive a generator, for low powers – say below 5kW – and heads below 3m, they are worth considering.

Water wheels are also safe for the passage of fish.

  • 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 turbines and provide an excellent attraction at sites where visitors are encouraged.

If you are the owner of an old mill or indeed a mill site and would like to find out more please contact us here for further information and we will endeavour to point you in the right direction.

All photographs are copyright of Eco Evolution

Bealey’s Weir Hydropower

The Bealey family arrived in Radcliffe in 1732, operating as whitsters (bleachers) from a factory in Drumers Lane and used bleach fields close to the parish church of St. Mary’s, next to the river Irwell. Although the Drumers Lane site was close to the river, it was above the river level. The bleach works used large quantities of water for both processing and power (Bealey’s had eight water wheels in 1794) so they built a weir in 1811 further upstream on the Irwell to provide a constant head of water with long feeder or millrace.

A channel known as Bealey’s goit  was dug to carry the water the 1.4 miles (2¼ kilometres) to the factory and this can be seen today along with a Sluice Gate that is situated between the river and the Goit.

The Sluice Gate that is situated between the river and the Goit.

An Archimedean Screw Hydro turbine has been installed, commissioned and is now generating electricity at Bealey’s Weir.  An Open Compact Archimedean Screw was designed for this project. An Open Compact is a self-supporting U-shaped steel construction minimising necessary civil work on site. The generator unit is an integral part of the construction, easily accessible via a weatherproof, hinged generator cover.

The length and diameter of an Archimedean Screw will be dictated by the parameters of the particular site and are finished in the colour of your choice. All Archimedean Screws are manufactured as bespoke installations.

Open Compact Archimedean Screw

Rated at 96 kilowatts this hydro turbine is predicted to save in excess of 205 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) annually. It measures 2500mm in diameter with a length of 14m. The site has a head of 4.62m, capacity of 2910l/s and the rotation speed is 27.5rpm.

Bealey’s Weir

Mann Power Consulting Ltd., the UK based Archimedean Screw specialists designed the equipment for this project.  It  was manufactured by Landustrie based in Holland and Eco Evolution were involvd in the commissioning of the project with Mann Power Consulting.

Archimedean Screw Hydro Turbine in situ

Archimedean Screw Hydro Turbine

In comparison with most turbines the Archimedean hydropower screw makes use of an open construction and a low rotational speed. This results in a natural flow and there is no pressure build up in the entire installation. Furthermore extensive testing shows that due to the size of water chambers and the fact that there is no pressure difference fish will pass through unharmed.

The Landy hydropower screw makes use of a specially designed inlet and outlet that make the screw absolutely fish friendly. The water outlet is designed in such a way for the water (and fish) to smoothly exit the screw without splashing. This also reduces the noise that water creates.

All photographs copyright of  Eco Evolution.

Practical On-farm Renewable Energy event at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus

Following on from its success in 2011, the “Practical On-farm Renewable Energy” event will be held once again on Tuesday 30 October 2012 at Greenmount Campus. DARD has again joined forces with the UFU, and AFBI to provide practical information for farmers and the rural sector about the various renewable energy options available for their businesses. The follow-up event at CAFRE’s Enniskillen Campus will also be held in February 2013.

Renewable and Sustainable Energy

There will be a series of seminars throughout the day highlighting local case studies of the main renewable energy technologies; wind power, biomass production and utilisation, biogas production, solar hot water and PV, micro-hydro and heat pumps. A second series of seminars will deal with many of issues facing those considering installing a green energy source. Topics covered will include the proposed Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), grid connection, planning, NI Renewable Obligation Certificates (NIROC’s), marketing NIROC’s as well as finance, business planning and funding options.

In addition, there will be a Trade Exhibition and the opportunity to tour the renewable energy installations at Greenmount Campus. If you are interested in exhibiting in the trade stand area please contact CAFRE at technology.admin@dardni.gov.uk or telephone 028 9442 6770. As space is limited it will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

The event will run from 11.00am until 9.00pm in the evening. For further details contact David Trimble at 028 9442 6682 or david.trimble@dardni.gov.uk.

Direction to the exhibition can be found at the following link:  http://www.cafre.ac.uk/index/campus-locations.htm

Timetable of seminars and tours: Seminars & Tours Leaflet

We look forward to meeting you at the show.

We offer a friendly one-stop shop for hydro development, from feasibility studies to licensing, to installation and commissioning and everything in between!

 

 

A Sneek Preview!

Just back from yet another very interesting factory visit. This time it was to visit Landustrie, one of the leading screw pump and screw generator manufacturers whose headquarters are in Sneek, The Netherlands.

Landustrie factory, Sneek, The Netherlands

For nearly a century Landustrie has designed, manufactured, supplied, erected and maintained many types of screw pump. Since the early eighties Landustrie has developed a fully automated selection program in order to select the optimum screw for a particular application. This program is based on a large number of tests, with a large number of variables, in the Landustrie test factory. In addition, Landustrie have developed specific pump knowledge, which is continously updated by means of R&D and the latest technologies and is the only manufacturer of screws using Finite Element Analysis methods.

Frank on visit to Landustrie

The newest range of the Landustrie products covers the worldwide hydropower market. Creating renewable energy with a reliable, fish-friendly and durable hydropower screw. The Archimedean screw was introduced as a high efficient pump. Due to the low turning speed, the life time of the screw can be expected to be at least 30 years and barely needs maintenance nor cleaning. The hydropower screw turns the principle of pumping around, maintaining the advantages and generating energy using the falling water to drive the screw.

Archimedean screw with an eco-friendly lower bearing

In comparison with most turbines the Archimedean hydropower screw makes use of an open construction and a low rotational speed. This results in a natural flow and there is no pressure build up in the entire installation. Furthermore extensive testing shows that due to the size of water chambers and the fact that there is no pressure differences fish will pass through unharmed. The Landy hydropower screw makes use of a specially designed inlet and outlet that makes the screw absolutely fish friendly. The water outlet is designed in such a way for the water (and fish) to smoothly exit the screw without splashing. This also reduces the noise that water creates.

Landy screw pump

The Landy hydropower screw is a profitable source of income and entirely environmental friendly, once you possess the water rights of a flow. The Landy hydropower screw can be used in places or areas with a fall (head) of 1m to 10m and a flow from 100l/s to 15,000l/s.

There are several examples of sites and areas around the country suitable for a hydropower screw e.g.

  • Rivers and streams
  • In an existing spillway, lock or in a weir system
  • Old Mill sites
  • (Waste) Water treatment inlets/outlets
  • To replace inefficient existing generators
  • Anywhere that water is available at a higher level

All photographs copyright of Eco Evolution.