Ancient Technology to Harness Hydropower - Archimedes Screw Pump

Developer Plans to Use Ancient Technology to Harness Hydropower

(Read the article on one page)

A property developer based in North Kingstown plans to build a hydropower project at the Natick Pond Dam using Archimedes’ screws , generators developed over two millennia ago by a Greek engineer and scientist.  The ancient technology is designed to pump water upward for irrigation and drainage but has never before been used in the United States.

For develop Robert Cioe, the project has been decades in the making. He bought property adjacent to the dam on the Warwick side of the river in 1968 and built 65 houses there. He sold the homes but hung on to a strip of land on the river, thinking that someday the dam could be used to generate renewable energy.

However, in the 45 years he owned the land near the dam, he was never able to move forward with a hydro project due to legislation and tough permitting laws. But in the last legislative session, lawmakers expanded the state’s landmark distribution generation program to include small hydropower. The program sets ceiling prices for different types of renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, and requires National Grid to negotiate 15-year power purchase agreements with developers, allowing Cioe to move ahead with this ambitious plans.

Archimedes' screw consists of a screw inside a hollow pipe. The screw used to be turned by manual labour but is now often turned by a windmill. As the shaft turns, the bottom end scoops up a volume of water. This water slides up in the spiral tube, until it finally pours out from the top of the tube.  While the invention was allegedly invented by Archimedes to remove water from the hold of a large ship, nowadays it is used as an efficient way to harness the downward flow of water to generate electricity. The screws also turn slowly enough — 30 to 40 revolutions per minute — to allow fish to pass through unharmed.

Hundreds of the devices are already up and running in Europe but now Cioe, working with New England Hydropower, plans to introduce the first one to the United States.  Representatives of New England Hydropower say there is potential for hundreds of such projects in New England, which has about 10,000 dams.   The screws at the Natick Pond Dam would generate about 1,500 megawatt-hours a year, enough electricity for about 250 typical Rhode Island homes.

The invention of the water screw is credited to Archimedes of Syracuse in the 3rd century BC. Archimedes was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Among his advances in physics are the foundations of hydrostatics, statics and an explanation of the principle of the lever. He is credited with designing innovative machines, including siege engines Modern experiments have tested claims that Archimedes designed machines capable of lifting attacking ships out of the water and setting ships on fire using an array of mirrors.

It is remarkable that we now turn back to the brilliant inventions developed millennia ago to provide a better solution than what our technology can accomplish today.

By April Holloway

Comments

Ther is a land developer her in TN near Percy Priest Lake is going to use this to drill down and remove water and develop his land. All of these years and this device and others are still in use.

angieblackmon's picture

I am also in the agreement boat. they were true problem solvers...they literally used the resources on hand...not man made crap (plastic and other things that continue to polluate our enviroment).

love, light and blessings

AB

johnblack's picture

Totally agree with you.

Another point that ancients were smarter than we give them credit for. They had different resource but similar problems and they came up with great inventions to solve those problems. We can all learn so much from the past, the Romans had aquaducts and water wheels to geneate power, the had factories for production and though they did not use electricity the same way we did, they had it and used it to their benefit. They harnessed wind power, water power, and yes even solar power.

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Human Origins

Map of sites and postulated migratory pathways associated with modern humans dispersing across Asia during the Late Pleistocene.
Most people are now familiar with the traditional "Out of Africa" model: modern humans evolved in Africa and then dispersed across Asia and reached Australia in a single wave about 60,000 years ago. However, technological advances in DNA analysis and other fossil identification techniques, as well as an emphasis on multidisciplinary research

Ancient Technology

Detail of a star chart dating to the Middle Kingdom.
The calendar is one of mankind’s most important inventions. Calendars allowed societies to organize time for religious, social, economic, and administrative purposes. The calendar, or rather, two sets of calendars, were invented by the ancient Egyptians. One of these was a lunar calendar, which was used mainly for the organization of religious festivals.

Ancient Places

Smuts house
The farmstead of General Jan Smuts on the outskirts of Pretoria, is reputed to be one of the most haunted private homes in the country, according to Mr Mark Rose-Christie, raconteur and social scientist, who regularly takes brave visitors on a tour of haunted sites on his mystery ghost bus.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article