Some cultures have used water to create energy for thousands of years, but the advent of the steam engine in the 18th century changed all that.
Water wheels are devices powered by flowing or falling water that turns machinery for many purposes including grinding grain, pumping water, and even powering saws. Water wheels were used by early civilizations such as Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans to perform these tasks.
The modern water wheel was developed in the 19th century by Michael Faraday. His invention is still being used today for hydroelectric power generation.
Water wheels were used on some lines of the London Underground when it first opened as a way of powering station lifts while keeping the Underground tunnels shallow.
There are still a few water wheels in use today, such as at the Steeple Morden power station in England and at a mill in Tours, France.
For many years people have tried to convert moving water into energy for homes and businesses through hydroelectric power generation. Traditionally, two major ways of doing this have been by building a dam, which holds back water and releases it to run downhill through a turbine; or running water through pipes so that it spins turbines as the water flows past.
To generate electricity from moving water, you need to spin turbines as the water flows past. This is known as hydropower generation. To transform kinetic energy (the movement of water) into electrical energy, you need to use a turbine. There are three main types: the Pelton wheel; the Francis or propeller turbine; and the Kaplan or vortex turbine.
Water wheels can be used in two ways to generate electricity: by using flowing water (hydropower generation) or by using falling water (tidal power generation). See how hydropower works.
Water mills can be used to generate electricity. There are three main types of water turbines: the Pelton wheel; the Francis or propeller turbine; and the Kaplan or vortex turbine. Usually, water mills use falling water to turn a generator, but moving water can also be used to spin a turbine.
With hydropower generation, water spins a turbine that is connected to a generator, which produces electricity. The amount of power generated depends on the volume and speed of water. The faster the water, the more energy can be captured.
Some modern hydroelectric power plants use reservoirs rather than natural waterways to store excess water so the rate of flow can be controlled. A reservoir acts like a holding tank for water before it’s released for hydroelectric generation.
The generating station itself is built on the side of a steep hill or mountain, and water from a nearby lake or river flows steadily through tunnels to turn turbines that are connected to generators. Hydroelectric power stations can also be located underground or underwater.
In conclusion, water wheels can create energy and are still used nowadays for hydroelectric power generation.