Archimedes screw: The incredible Greek hydraulic machine!

Source: Precision Graphics

An Archimedes’ screw, also known as a water screw or Egyptian screw, is a mechanism that transfers water from a low-lying body of water into irrigation ditches. Pumping water is accomplished by spinning a screw-shaped surface within a pipe. Furthermore, Archimedes screws might generate power if they are propelled by flowing fluid rather than lifting fluid. Although the mechanism is often credited to Archimedes, there is evidence that it was utilized in Ancient Egypt much before his time.

Source: By Zdravko Pečar / wiki commons

The Egyptian screw, which was used to extract water from the Nile, was made up of tubes coiled around a cylinder; when the unit rotates, water was raised inside the spiral tube to a higher height. The water screw was later introduced to Greece from Egypt. Archimedes mentioned it on his journey to Egypt in 234 BC. Archimedes never claimed credit for its development, but Diodorus, who believed Archimedes created the water screw in Egypt, credited it to him 200 years later.

The Archimedes screw is made up of a screw (a helical surface circling a central cylindrical shaft) contained within a hollow pipe. Typically, the screw is turned by a windmill, physical labor, animals, or technological means such as a motor. The lower end of the shaft scoops up a volume of water as it rotates. The water is then forced up the tube by the spinning helicoid until it spills out the top.

Source: wayoutwestnews / flickr

Instead of the screw spinning within a fixed housing, some designs merge the screw to the case, and they both spin together. The screw might be sealed to the housing using pitch resin or another adhesive, or the screw and case might be cast as a single bronze piece.

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The screw was primarily used to transfer water to irrigation systems, dewater mines, and other low-lying locations. It was used to drain land underneath the sea in the Netherlands and other areas, resulting in the formation of polders.

Source: By Polleket / wiki commons

Archimedes screws are utilized in sewage treatment facilities because they can handle fluctuating flow rates and suspended materials. A snow blower or grain elevator auger is simply an Archimedes screw. An Archimedes screw is used in several types of axial flow pumps.

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