Lifting Water

Part of the History of Mechanism and Machine Science book series (HMMS, volume 8)

Water is without doubt the most necessary element for the existence of life; for this reason, devices to raise water from wells were among the first to be conceived. The need to raise water in large quantities from the bottom of a well or from a river bed, requiring extensive if not continuous time, led to the invention of some simple devices. Their characteristic, in addition, to make the construction easier, was that they could be moved by humans or by animals and even by the running water itself, obviously when relating to rivers, and even by the wind. Such machines had two basic parts: the motor and the system for picking up and raising water. The motor, of whatever type, transformed the motive power available into movement. Just like the oar which eventually led to the paddle-wheel, the goatskin suggested a wheel with many goatskins applied along its rim. By rotating the wheel, the goatskins would be immersed, filling with water which they would then discharge once they reached the top of the wheel. But to rotate a wheel bearing the goatskins, which later became terracotta cups and then wooden cases, they had to overcome a resistance equal to the weight of the water hauled, thus the more numerous the number of goatskins, the greater the quantity of water, the greater the height, the greater the effort required.

Supposing that the goatskins or buckets had a capacity of only 10 l and supposing that they were placed at 1 m distance one from the other, an extension of 10 m would have ten containers, equalling 1 t of weight. With the rising speed of the chain about 20 cm/s, they could haul approximately 100 l/min. Certainly not little but since almost 10 min were required for 1 m3 the result is extremely modest.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

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