Water wheel

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A water wheel is a machine for converting the energy of free-flowing or falling water into useful forms of power. A water wheel consists of a large wooden or metal wheel, with a number of blades or buckets arranged on the outside rim forming the driving surface. Most commonly, the wheel is mounted vertically on a horizontal axle, but the tub or Norse wheel is mounted horizontally on a vertical shaft. Vertical wheels can transmit power either through the axle or via a ring gear and typically drive belts or gears; horizontal wheels usually directly drive their load.

Water mills were still in commercial use well into the 20th century, but they are no longer in common use in industrialized countries. Prior uses of water wheels include milling flour in gristmills, but other uses include foundry work and machining, and pounding linen for use in the manufacture of paper.

Some water wheels are fed by water from a mill pond, which is formed when a flowing stream is dammed. A channel for the water flowing to or from a water wheel is called a mill race (also spelled millrace) or simply a "race", and is customarily divided into sections. The race bringing water from the mill pond to the water wheel is a headrace; the one carrying water after it has left the wheel is commonly referred to as a tailrace.[1]

The main difficulty of water wheels is their dependence on flowing water, which limits where they can be located. Modern Hydro-electric dams can be viewed as the descendants of the water wheel as they too take advantage of the movement of water downhill.


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