The Surprising Efficiency of Canal Locks

From Practical Engineering. People use boats for all kinds of reasons, and in the same way, there are all kinds, shapes, sizes, and ages of locks used for waterway navigation across the world. Freight is big business. “Shipping” got its name for a reason, and we still use ships to move a lot of our…

Why Pipes Move Underground

From Practical Engineering. Discussing thrust forces in pipelines (with the help of our friends at Air Command Rockets). Huge thanks to @Air Command Rockets for collaborating on the video. Go check out their channel for tons of awesome content on water rockets. We use pipes to carry all kinds of fluids. Pretty much anyone can…

What is Air Lock?

From Practical Engineering. A demonstration and brief explanation of air lock in fluid pipelines. If you assume that gasses don’t get into pipes or that they can’t constrict the flow, you might design a pipeline that doesn’t work. Luckily for engineers, this is a well-known phenomenon in pipe systems. It’s just one of the complexities…

How Does a Hydraulic Ram Pump Work?

From Practical Engineering. A quick description and demo of this ingenious pump. A hydraulic ram is a clever device invented over 200 years ago that can pump water uphill with no other external source of power except for the water flowing into it and there is a way to take advantage of this normally inauspicious…

How Power Blackouts Work

From Practical Engineering. Exploring the protective systems that keep the power grid from self destructing. We usually think of the power grid in terms of its visible parts: power plants, high-voltage lines, and substations. But, much of the complexity of power grid comes in how we protect it when things go wrong. When your power…

World’s Largest Batteries – (Pumped Storage)

From Practical Engineering. The vast majority of our grid-scale storage of electricity uses this clever method. Electricity faces a fundamental problem that comes with pretty much any product that’s provided on-demand: our ability to generate large amounts of it doesn’t match up that closely with when we need it. The storage of electricity for later…

How do Electric Transmission Lines Work?

From Practical Engineering. Discussing some of the fascinating engineering that goes into overhead electric power transmission lines. In the past, power generating plants were only able to serve their local areas. As power plants grew larger and further away from populated areas, the need for ways to efficiently move electricity over long distances has become…

How Do Substations Work?

From Practical Engineering. Untangling the various equipment you might see in an electrical substation. In many ways, the grid is a one-size-fits-all system – a gigantic machine to which we all connect spinning in perfect synchrony across, in some cases, an entire continent. On the other hand, our electricity needs, including when we need it,…

How Electricity Generation Really Works

From Practical Engineering. Continuing the series on the power grid by diving deeper into the engineering of large-scale electricity generation. The importance of electricity in our modern world can hardly be overstated. What was a luxury a hundred years ago is now a critical component to the safety, prosperity, and well-being of nearly everyone. Generation…