Archimedes drives river generator on Dartmoor

The Archimedes Screw has been put into reverse, as it were. Instead of ‘energy in, water level rises’, it’s ‘water level falls, energy out.’
There’s a video.


An activity centre on Dartmoor is generating electricity using a device which dates back to ancient Greece.

The hydro-electric generator at the River Dart Country Park, near Ashburton, employs an Archimedes screw.

Water flows through the screw to turn it and the motion turns a turbine to produce electricity.

About 1.5 tonnes of water passes through the screw a second and the screw in turn allows fish and eels to pass through it safely.

Fish migration

The Environment Agency said the River Dart was an important salmon river, so the ability for fish to pass through the screw has been described by those involved in the project as an important aspect of its green credentials.

Mark Simpson, from the River Dart Country Park, said: “There are so many sites in the South West where small hydro-power schemes like this could be utilised.

“This screw has proved that it is a very environmentally-friendly with regards to fish and migrating salmon.”

The turbine will be able to produce an estimated £35,000-worth of electricity a year.

Archimedes was a Greek mathematician, philosopher and inventor who lived from about 287BC to 212BC.

He wrote important works on geometry, arithmetic and mechanics and is credited with inventing the hydraulic screw for raising water from a lower to higher level.

The country park generator uses a reversed screw, with water running along it from higher to lower ground.

4 Responses

  1. I would be most interested to receive further information particularly on cost metrics and comparison with alternative turbine types.

    Regards, David Willis.

  2. For further information you’ll have to go to the original source of the news. You could use the link to the BBC story for a start. I’m afraid I just find news with a Classics (Greek or Roman) aspect to it (like the Greek scientist and mathematician Archimedes here) and pass it on to the Classics teaching community.

  3. Wonderful article: hope to come back again soon…

  4. […] α) Electricity from ancient device, BBC News, Thursday, 28 August 2008 (video), β) Archimedes drives river generator on Dartmoor, γ)Eco Evolution Blog: Archimedean Screw Hydro Turbine,δ) Plan for ‘micro-hydro’ […]

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