The Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk WheelThe Falkirk Wheel is one of the world’s most famous Civil Engineering structures.  It is located in Scotland UK and since its opening in 2002 has been the bridge between the 25 meter height gap of the “Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal.”   The Wheel’s massive size, unique design and incredible capability make it a large tourist attraction, so much so that it carries its own cafe and gift shop. More than a tourist attraction The Wheel is an amazing feat of engineering.The Falkirk Wheel stands a tall 35 meters, approximately the height of a ten to twelve story building.  There are two identical arms that extend 15 meters from the central rotating axis.  At the end of the arms are two water basins, otherwise known as caissons, filled with 96,000 gallons of water.  This is where the genius of the Wheel comes into play.  The Falkirk Wheel takes advantage of a principal found in the 200’s B.C.  Archimedes’s principal shows that a floating mass will displaces its weight in the water.  Thus, when a boat enters the caisson the boat will add no weight to the water basin, but will instead displace its weight.  Due to this fact, both caissons weigh the same amount, even if there is a boat in one basin but not the other.

Archimedes’s Principal allows for possibly the most interesting part of the Falkirk Wheel.  The engine that rotates the Wheel has only a mere 30 horsepower.  The engine of an Audi A4 has approximately 150 horsepower, about 5 times as powerful as the engine that powers the Wheel.

The Falkirk Wheel is truly a feat of engineering.  The Wheel solved the problem of the connection between two bodies of water, separated 25 meters vertically.  It applies simple concepts but yet serves its purpose perfectly.

The Falkirk Wheel Video Explanation: Check this out!


The Falkirk Wheel Video Explanation: Check this out!

About Mark McGee-Pasceri

I am currently a senior majoring in Industrial Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University.
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