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Engineering is art made to increase efficiency. This field of study gives you; art, mathematics, science, economics, and from a creative stance, dance, poetry, photography and so much more. One of the greatest designs that encompasses all of these features is The Falkirk Wheel in Scotland. The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift that connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. The grand creation was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 24 May 2002. The Falkirk Wheel is regarded as an engineering landmark and an iconic symbol in Scotland.

"Engineering is the science and art of efficient dealing with materials and forces ... it involves the most economic design and execution ... assuring, when properly performed, the most advantageous combination of accuracy, safety, durability, speed, simplicity, efficiency, and economy possible for the conditions of design and service." J. A. L. Waddell, Frank W. Skinner, and H. E. Wessman (1933)

“Engineering is the science and art of efficient dealing with materials and forces … it involves the most economic design and execution … assuring, when properly performed, the most advantageous combination of accuracy, safety, durability, speed, simplicity, efficiency, and economy possible for the conditions of design and service.”
J. A. L. Waddell, Frank W. Skinner, and H. E. Wessman (1933)

 

Design Team

The Falkirk Wheel – the world’s first and only rotating boat lift – was the eventual outcome collaboration with a design team that combined international experience of joint venture contractor Morrison-Bachy-Soletanche with leading specialists from Ove Arup Consultants, Butterley Engineering and Scotland-based RMJM architects.

655x436 tfw at night

Construction

Butterley undertook all construction work for the wheel and set up its own team to carry out the design work. This team comprised Tony Gee and Partners, to undertake the structural design responsibilities and M G Bennett & Associates to design the mechanical and electrical equipment for the wheel. The wheel was constructed by Butterley Engineering at Ripley in Derbyshire under Millennium Plans to reconnect the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal, mainly for recreational use.

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For a demonstration of how it works or to see it in motion watch the videos below.

Specifications

Boats entering the Wheel’s upper gondola are lowered, along with the water that they float in, to the basin below. At the same time, an equal weight rises up, lifted in the other gondola. This works on the Archimedes principle of displacement. That is, the mass of the boat sailing into the gondola will displace an exactly proportional volume of water so that the final combination of  ‘boat plus water’  balances the original total mass. This keeps the wheel balanced, allowing both gondolas to rotate 180 degrees in just five and one-half minutes. The efficiency of the design allows it rotate using very little power, just 22.5 kW to power the electric motors. Each gondola runs on small wheels that fit into a single curved rail fixed on the inner edge of the opening on each arm

The wheel actually consists of two sets of opposing arms designed to resemble a double-headed Celtic axe. Designed by architect RMJM, they extend 15 m from the 3.5-m-diameter central axle and are placed 25 m apart. Each is fitted between the arms with a diametrically opposed water-filled caisson, or gondola, mounted on bearings riding on a circular rail. When one caisson is lowered, its opposite rises

The interesting thing about the Falkirk Wheel is it is an integration of different areas of engineering. It is a machine held together by a structure. Nicholas Cooper, engineering director, Energy, Atkins Global

The interesting thing about the Falkirk Wheel is it is an integration of different areas of engineering. It is a machine held together by a structure.
Nicholas Cooper, engineering director, Energy, Atkins Global

 

Hydraulic rams are used to open and close the gates, release the seals and stabilize the gondolas. As the gondolas contain no power units, Bennett drew on its subsea pipeline experience to design a hydraulic connection to the ram using a “hot stab,” an external link that extends from the structure into a port in the gondola where it connects the hydraulic circuit. 

 

 

 

References

Civil Engineering The Falkirk Wheel SCOTLAND, UK. (n.d.). Foundations, tunnelling and civil works for Millennium Project. Retrieved from http://www.bacsol.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/A399-The-Falkirk-Wheel.pdf

The Falkirk Wheel: Find out all about The Wheel. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.thefalkirkwheel.co.uk/about-the-wheel-/design-and-engineering

Symbol Millennium The Falkirk Wheel – ASME. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.asme.org/engineering-topics/articles/transportation/symbol-of-the-millennium-the-falkirk-wheel

Who designed the Falkirk Wheel. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.falkirk-wheel.com/faq/68-who-designed-the-falkirk-wheel

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