Science, Engineering & Technology

Saunders, Robin, ‘Water’, in Energy Primer (Fricke-Parks Press, 1974), 52-73

Robin Saunders chapter, ‘Water’, focuses on small hydro-plants that can be utilised by individuals and small communities. Multiple factors are considered in the installation of waterwheels. Saunders begins his chapter discussing expenses, as well as environmental disturbances caused by creating dams, and any legislation that surrounds water regulation and water rights. The rest of the chapter is spent explaining the technical aspects of water power, and the installation of water wheels, dams, sluices, pipes, and turbines.

Saunders provides the equations necessary to measure the flow of water, the hight of the fall of the water (and subsequently, the water pressure), and the calculations needed when designing suitable channels and other ways to deliver the water to the water wheel or turbine. Graphs and tables are included alongside the measurement instructions, and illustrations provide visuals of the steps in installing water wheels.

Saunders further presents a list of factors that guides the reader in determining the choice of water wheel or turbine best suited for their project. Each type of wheel and turbine is described in terms of its use, its efficiency, and what situation or conditions they have been designed for. The author concludes the chapter with information on power transmission, discussing various types of generators, and a glossary list for the terms used within the chapter.  

Cheremisinoff, Nicholas P, Fundamentals of Wind Energy (Ann Arbor Science, 1978)

Nicholas P. Cheremisinoff provides an argument on the usage of wind power for future energy generation. Though the text is not as technical as other books regarding the mathematics and engineering required of wind power machinery, it does provide a comprehensive summary and useful analysis on the potential that wind-generated power possesses.

The text begins with an exploration into the decline of wind energy, and how the reliability and efficiency of wind power had to improve in order to catch up with the now-mechanised industries.

Throughout the text, Cheremisinoff provides the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy, making note of the different factors, environmental, geographical, and meteorological, that need to be taken into consideration when determining where these wind machines should be located, and whether they would be beneficial a the particular location. He suggests a general methodology when evaluating a region of interest, which, though basic and rather broad, does present a useful checklist of factors to observe when choosing a suitable location for wind machines.

The author also considers the social and economic aspects, regarding both public opinion and aesthetic, as well as the cost efficiency and reliability of wind power. Cheremisinoff is very clear in his views on the importance in considering land use and aesthetic, and argues that the general public must be in favour of wind machines if wind energy has any chance of playing a significant role in the future.

Cheremisinoff concludes the book, emphasising that the ultimate deciding factor in utilising wind power will be dependent on economic factors, and whether building wind machines would be worth the investment.

Howard, Robert A., Water Power – How it Works (1979) (Box F400 at the Mills Archive Trust)

This pamphlet is an very clear, readable and straightforward explanation of waterpower systems, in particular, waterwheels and turbines. It is extremely beginner friendly and complete with illustrations, most probably aimed to be read by children. It begins with summarising how waterpower systems work in general, accompanied by illustrations. These go into further detail of the different parts on the following pages if the reader is interested. The next chapter is about how the sun plays a part in the production of waterpower, again, complete with a child friendly diagram. Next is a couple of pages dedicated to explaining waterwheels function, design, and advice as to how install the different types to achieve maximum success, with accompanying annotated diagrams. A page on turbines follows next with a brief description as to its development over the years and an explanation of the annotated diagram. The last page is a conclusion, summarising the advantages and disadvantages of the two water power systems, claiming most interestingly that compared to fossil fuel they are very efficient. It outlines that the energy source is free, does not pollute and does not use up the energy source. However, stating that the system’s capacity is limited by the amount of water flowing and even though the fuel supply is not cut of by strikes, they are affected by floods and droughts. Its concluding statement says that even though in the past many water-powered mills were being abandoned because of cheap fossil fuels, we are now going back to hydroelectric means as fossil fuels are now increasing in price. This booklet is a perfect introduction to understanding how waterpower systems function and what is good and bad about them.

Davidson, Ros, “Earthquake Experts Disagree On Lessons To Be Learned From Bonus Tremors Experience” (Windpower Monthly, Vol 2. (12), December 1986, pp. 11 & 26)

Ros Davidson’s article discusses experts’ opinions on wind turbines and their resistance to earthquake damage. As of December 1986, there had been no definitive answer for whether, or to what extent, wind generators could withstand seismic waves.

To begin the debate, Davidson states that the impact on wind turbines depends on multiple factors, including the amount of energy released, geology, distance from the epicentre, and the duration and frequency of the seismic waves. Some of the experts suggest that turbines are more sensitive to higher frequency waves, though if they are too flexible, they may bend during the earthquake. On the other hand, other experts have argued that low frequency waves would have a greater impact on less flexible turbines. Other experts, Davidson mentions, disagree with the claims that wind turbines were not resistant to earthquakes, arguing that they are resistant because they have been designed to withstand wind.

Davidson concludes her article by stating that the only thing experts agree on is how the number and scale of earthquakes in California will continue to rise.