A windmill is a type of engine. It uses the wind to make energy. Usually, a windmill is in a large building. Common types of windmills are post mills, smock mills and tower mills. The energy made by windmills can be used in many ways. These include grinding grain or spices, pumping water and sawing wood. Modern wind power machines are used to create electricity. These are called wind turbines.
An organ powered by a windwheel was written about in the 1st century AD by the Greek engineer Hero. It could have been the first machine in history that used wind power. Vertical axle windmills were used in eastern Persia (Sistan) by the 9th century AD. Horizontal axle windmills were invented in Northwestern Europe in the 1180s. This is the type often used today.
Early history [change]
The first windmills had long vertical shafts with rectangle shaped blades. They existed in Persia in the 9th century. There is a story about a windmill and the second caliph Umar (634-644 AD). It is not known if this is true story. These windmills were made of six to twelve sails. The sails were covered in reed matting or cloth. They were very different from European versions. A similar type of vertical shaft windmill with rectangle blades can also be found in 13th century China. They were used for irrigation.
How they work [change]
The blades or sails of the windmill are turned by the wind. Gears and cogs makes the driveshaft inside the windmill turn. In a windmill used for making flour, this turns the grinding stones. As the stones turn, they crush the wheat (or other grain) between them. In a windmill used for pumping water, turning the driveshaft moves a piston. The piston can suck up and push out water as it moves up and down. In a windmill used for generating power, the driveshaft is connected to many gears. This increases the speed and is used to turn a generator to makes electricity.
Windmills in culture and literature [change]
Miguel de Cervantes' book Don Quixote de La Mancha has an important scene in which Don Quixote attacks windmills. He thinks that they are violent giants. Because of this, La Mancha and its windmills are famous. This is also the origin of the phrase "tilting at windmills". It means an act of uselessness. "Moulin Rouge" translated directly from French means Red Windmill.
- A.G. Drachmann, "Heron's Windmill", Centaurus, 7 (1961), pp. 145-151
- Dietrich Lohrmann, "Von der östlichen zur westlichen Windmühle", Archiv für Kulturgeschichte, Vol. 77, Issue 1 (1995), pp.1-30 (10f.)
- Ahmad al-Hassan, Donald Hill: Islamic Technology. An illustrated history, 1986, Cambridge University Press, p.54f. ISBN 0-521-42239-6
- Dietrich Lohrmann, "Von der östlichen zur westlichen Windmühle", Archiv für Kulturgeschichte, Vol. 77, Issue 1 (1995), pp.1-30 (18ff.)
- Dietrich Lohrmann, "Von der östlichen zur westlichen Windmühle", Archiv für Kulturgeschichte, Vol. 77, Issue 1 (1995), pp.1-30 (8)
Further reading [change]
- A.G. Drachmann: "Heron's Windmill," Centaurus, 7 (1961), pp. 145–151
- Hugh Pembroke Vowles: "An Enquiry into Origins of the Windmill", Journal of the Newcomen Society, Vol. 11 (1930-31)
Other pages [change]
- Renewable energy
- Renewable resource
- Land reclamation
- wind generator
- Don Quixote
Double windmill and common Aeromotor windmill in Texas
Other websites [change]
- Windmills at Windmill World
- The International Molinological Society (TIMS)
- All About The American Water Pumping Windmill
- Danish Wind Industry Association
- Mill database with over 15000 mills from all over Europe
- Norfolk Mills
- 1st English Post Windmill, Virginia
- Poldaw Windpumps, intended principally for applications in developing countries.
- Windmillers' Gazette
- History of the Traditional American Farm Windmill
- windmillworld: history
- American Wind Power Center - An American water pumping windmill museum in Lubbock, Texas USA.
- Shattuck Windmill Museum Thirty-nine water pumping windmills used on the plains; in Shattuck, Oklahoma
- Illinois Windmills—history and archives for the Dutch windmills in the state.
- How to construct a Windmill
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