What Are Hydroelectric Dams Made Out Of?

Hydroelectric Dam
••• dam image by michael langley from Fotolia.com

Hydroelectric dams are a way of generating electricity by harnessing flowing water. The dams are built to stop the flow of a river, which then creates a reservoir of water behind the dam. This water falls through the dam and spins turbines which in turn spin electric generators. These dams can be made of several different things but the primary building materials are: earth, concrete and steel.

Earth

Building a hydroelectric dams starts with a base. The base is the first thing to sit in the river channel and block the flow of water. The base is usually created by pouring tons and tons of rock, sand, gravel and dirt into the channel. It is the largest portion of the dam so an inexpensive material like rock and dirt helps keep the cost of building down while at the same time creating a very effective foundation from which to build the rest of the dam.

Concrete

The second material used in building a hydroelectric dam is concrete. Concrete is poured around the earthen base to provide shape, structure and strength to the dam. Concrete starts out in a near-liquid form which makes it very effective at modeling to specific shapes and then hardens and holds that shape. It is very strong which helps keep the dam standing.

Steel

Steel plays a critical part in most large-scale construction projects, and a hydroelectric dam is no different. Concrete is very strong in terms of compression strength but it is not very strong when it comes to twisting or pulling. This is where steel comes in. Steel re-bar is inserted into the concrete to provide added dimensional strength. If steel was not included in the concrete, the weight of the water pushing against the dam could easily break the concrete.

Related Articles

Types of Seawalls
How Does a Rock Crusher Work?
Type of Stone Used to Make Monuments
Step-by-Step Directions for Making a Volcano for a...
How to Flame Harden Steel
How to Calculate Fastener Pullout
Factors Affecting a Selection Site for a Hydroelectric...
Why Is DNA the Blueprint of Life?
How to Build an Easy Catapult for Kids
How to Make a Strong Bridge Out of Popsicle Sticks
How Is Hydropower Gathered or Created?
How to Make a Volcano
Famous Buildings to Build for a School Project
How to Build a Mallard Duck House
What Is Wrought Steel Pipe?
How to Use Log on a TI-83
How to Make Roller Coasters for a Science Fair Project
How to Make an Electric Motor Using a 9V Battery
How to Make a Tower Out of One Piece of Paper