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Industrial Archaeology: Watermills and Water Power

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Industrial Archaeology: Watermills and Water Power is a little over 40 years old (and a year younger than I am) but that does not mean it does not contain useful information.  It is a CD3WD document that provides information on the historical uses of water for industrial power.

Just like many that think solar only think of electricity, most that think microhydro think only of power generation.  This is shortsighted.  Both are much more efficient when used directly.  Electricity must be stored, which means it must be converted, each conversion contains resistance and inefficiency that reduce total power.  Hydropower can be stored directly by means of dams – and if it is used to turn a power wheel to power machines at the site, it will harness much more power than if converted to electricity and transported somewhere else.

A grain mill is the easiest thing to come to mind, and while probably not of use to many, anyone that has used a hand crank grain mill to make flour would love a mill powered by water.  However, that is not the only thing that can be powered by a water wheel.  Throughout history factories have used pulley systems to power machines with water power and this books gives great insight into the process.

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