Page last updated at 14:04 GMT, Thursday, 28 August 2008 15:04 UK

Archimedes drives river generator


About 1.5 tonnes of water passes through the screw a second

An activity centre on Dartmoor is generating electricity using a device which dates back to ancient Greece.

The hydro-electric generator at the River Dart Country Park, near Ashburton, employs an Archimedes screw.

Water flows through the screw to turn it and the motion turns a turbine to produce electricity.

About 1.5 tonnes of water passes through the screw a second and the screw in turn allows fish and eels to pass through it safely.

Fish migration

The Environment Agency said the River Dart was an important salmon river, so the ability for fish to pass through the screw has been described by those involved in the project as an important aspect of its green credentials.

Mark Simpson, from the River Dart Country Park, said: "There are so many sites in the South West where small hydro-power schemes like this could be utilised.

"This screw has proved that it is a very environmentally-friendly with regards to fish and migrating salmon."

The turbine will be able to produce an estimated 35,000-worth of electricity a year.

Archimedes was a Greek mathematician, philosopher and inventor who lived from about 287BC to 212BC.

He wrote important works on geometry, arithmetic and mechanics and is credited with inventing the hydraulic screw for raising water from a lower to higher level.

The country park generator uses a reversed screw, with water running along it from higher to lower ground.

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