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Hydraulic basin.
Hydraulic power.

Dam.
Hydraulic power.

Hydraulic Energy

Hydraulic energy

Hydraulic energy is obtained from the gravitational potential energy of water. By dropping the water from a certain height it gains speed. In other words, potential energy is converted into kinetic energy.

The energy obtained can be directly used to rotate the shaft of a hydraulic turbine to obtain mechanical work.

It is a renewable energy, a clean energy. It does not generate waste or greenhouse gases.

If this mechanical work is used to generate electricity it is called hydroelectric power.

In hydroelectric energy, kinetic energy is finally transformed into electricity thanks to an alternator coupled to a turbine. This process is carried out in a hydroelectric power station.

How does hydraulic energy work?

Hydroelectric energy comes from rivers and lakes thanks to the creation of dams and forced conduits.

There are several types of hydroelectric power plants: 

  • In mountain regions, jump centers are used, which are high drop heights.

  • In fluid water plants, on the other hand, large masses of river water are used regulating the flow that exceed small differences in height.

Water from an artificial lake or basin is transported downstream through forced pipes. In this way its potential energy is transformed into pressure and kinetic energy thanks to the distributor and the turbine.

Mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy through the electrical generator. This process is carried out by electromagnetic induction.

Tidal power

Hydroelectric power production can also take place through the exploitation of waves, tides and ocean currents. In this case, we are talking about tidal energy or tidal energy.

Ecological problems

At the environmental level it is considered clean energy. Its use implies considerable advantages in relation to other types of non-renewable energy. However, there are certain drawbacks:

The construction of a hydroelectric power station involves:

  1. The construction of dams and large basins or artificial deposits.

  2. Flooding of large soils.

  3. Alteration of the river flow.

  4. Alteration of the path of the sediments transported by the river.

These problems have a certain impact. In severe cases it can cause the disruption of the ecosystem of the area with great environmental damage, or hydrogeological risks.

Use of hydraulic energy

Hydraulic energy exploitation techniques:

Watermills

A water mill A mill that uses the force of water to rotate.

It is a structure that uses a water wheel or a water turbine to drive a mechanical process. For example:

  • Milling (grinding).

  • The laminate.

  • The hammered.

Such processes are necessary in the production of many material goods, including flour, wood, paper, textiles, and many metal products.

These water mills may comprise sawmills, paper mills, textile mills, hammer mills, hammer mills, rolling mills, wire drawing mills.

Hidroelectricidad

Hydroelectricity is the application of hydraulic energy to generate electricity. It is the primary use of hydraulic energy today.

Hydroelectric power plants may include a reservoir. Generally created by a dam. The reservoir is used to regulate the flow and exploit the energy of the falling water. They can also use the kinetic energy of the water as in the hydropower of the river current.

Hydroelectric plants can range in size from small community-size plants (micro hydro) to very large plants that supply power to an entire country.

Hydro compressed air

Where there is an abundant amount of water, it can be made to generate compressed air directly without moving parts.

In these designs, a falling column of water is deliberately mixed with air bubbles. These bubbles have been generated through turbulence or a venturi pressure reducer at the high level inlet.

This allows it to fall down a well into a high ceiling underground chamber. In this chamber, the now compressed air separates from the water and is trapped.

The height of the falling water column maintains air compression at the top of the chamber. On the other hand, an outlet, submerged below the water level in the chamber, allows the water to return to the surface at a lower level than the intake.

A separate outlet on the roof of the chamber supplies the compressed air.

Hydroelectric basins and dams

The hydroelectric basin is used to collect the waters of a river in an artificial basin. 

Hydraulic energyThe main element of the hydroelectric basin is the dam. Thanks to the dam, it is possible to raise the altitude of the water in order to subsequently use the level difference for the generation of electricity.

From the basin to the power station where the generators are located, there is a forced conduit.

A forced conduit is a pipe that has a wide initial opening and a narrow terminal. Its function is to promote the output speed on the turbine blades.

An advantage of hydroelectric power is that the dams regulate the flow of the river past the dam.

Hydroelectric power station

A hydroelectric plant means a series of hydraulic engineering works and a series of machines. The objective of a plant is to obtain electricity.

The water is transported to one or more turbines that rotate thanks to the pressure of the water. Each turbine is coupled to an alternator that transforms the rotational motion into electrical energy.

The exploitation of hydroelectric energy is not constant over time. The exploitation of this energy depends on the water supply of the artificial water basin. In turn, it depends on the tributary / river regime and then on the rain regime of the catchment area.

Pumped hydroelectric power plants

What is pumped storage?

Hydroelectricity can also be used to store energy in the form of potential energy between two tanks at different heights with pumped storage hydroelectricity. 

Water is pumped uphill to reservoirs during periods of low demand. This way you use the excess energy to pump water into the swamp again. It is a way to store energy.

When there is demand, the water is released to drive the turbines again.

Summary

Hydraulic energy is a type of renewable energy that is powered by the force of water.

It can be used to obtain mechanical work or electricity (hydroelectric power).

Hydroelectric plants are facilities for the generation of electrical energy. The basis of operation is the construction of a pres that alters the flow of a river. This blockage implies an accumulation and an increase in the water level of the hydrological basin.

Electricity is obtained by harnessing the potential energy of water that is converted to kinetic energy when falling. With it, a hydraulic turbine connected to an electric generator is powered.

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Published: December 15, 2017
Last review: May 26, 2020