Archimedes’ screw in Meriden dam generates power again after malfunction

reporter photo

MERIDEN — A 20-ton steel Archimedes’ screw installed in Hanover Pond to generate hydroelectric power is working again after a mechanical malfunction in February put it out of commission. 

The screw underwent testing and restarted sometime in the last week, said Chris Conover, a spokesman for New England Hydropower Company, which installed the screw in December 2016. 

The 35-foot-long hydroelectric screw stopped working in February, when firefighters responded to the site for the report of a loud noise and smoke coming from the facility. 

Conover said the screw stopped working due to a “mechanical malfunction that unfortunately took awhile to get the parts to fix.” He said he couldn’t get into the technical details of the malfunction because it would reveal information about “critical energy infrastructure.”

The hydroelectric generating screw is the first of its kind in the U.S., making it more difficult to get the parts necessary to fix it, Conover said. The company is confident in the project moving forward and doesn’t foresee additional issues, he added. 

“It’s stable, we trust in it,” Conover said. 

City Planner Bob Seale said he was recently informed by the Engineering Department that the screw is running again, which he said is welcome news. 

When it was installed, officials said the screw is supposed to generate 920,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually and save the city $20,000 a year in power costs and property taxes over 20 years. The generator utilizes the 2,000-year-old technology of ancient Greek scientist Archimedes, producing power by siphoning water from the top of the Hanover Pond dam and down the screw causing the screw to rotate.

The project was funded by New England Hydropower Company in partnership with other investors and financial institutions, Conover said.


Twitter: @MatthewZabierek

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