September 20, 2009

The Falkirk Wheel- An Engineering Marvel

 Yesterday we had a guest lecture on ‘Overview of Fluid Mechanics’ by Dr. C. Sivaprakasagam, Prof.  & HOD of Kalasalingam University. He gave an overview of Fluid Mechanics and by the end; he showed us something interesting known as Falkirk Wheel. That is what I’m going to write.

The Falkirk wheel is a rotating boat lift mechanism. It connects Forth and Clyde Canal with Union Canal. It is nearby Glasgow, the Scottish Capital.

The thing is that the two canals are at a height difference of 35 m (one canal merges into the other canal like a waterfall). So, previously, people have to choose a roundabout way.

Engineers worked 10 years on this project and they finished by 2002…

What they designed is something amazing… They designed something known as Falkirk wheel… It consists of 11 locks through which the boat passes… Finally, it comes into a water tub (its called gondola)… At the same time, a boat on the lower part also comes into a similar structure at the base…

When two boats r fit into the gondola, the wheel is rotated by using, Gear mechanism with the help of engine… Now the boat on the lower part comes into the higher side and the boat on the upper side to the lower side…

It takes only 5 and half minutes for this whole thing to take place. The motor power is 22.5 KW.

The most amazing thing is Archimedes Principle plays an important role in this wheel… The gondolas on both the sides r filled with same amount of water… So, when a boat enters a gondola, the amount of water displaced will be equal to the mass of the boat…So the mass of the gondolas r equal, which means less power is required to rotate…

I’ll explain these things very clearly in the pictures below…

 A view of the Canal- One at 35 m height and the other below

A view of the Falkirk Wheel- The locks and the last two structures r the Gondolos

A picture indicating the mechanism... In this the wheel is in halfway

Wheel in its halfway

A view from the higher side

A closer look

The Gear Mechanism- A closer look

View at night... This has become a great tourist spot

A view of the locks at night

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