The UK has launched a multi-million pound scheme to alleviate flooding via the use of giant water screws which were first invented by one of antiquity's most iconic engineers.

The multi-million pound project will see the construction of a new pumping facility which will make use of huge Archimedes screws to displace storm water in the event of heavy flooding.

Yorkshire Water’s new Bransholme Surface Water Pumping Station will be equipped with six of the giant storm water screws, each of which will weigh a staggering 55 tonnes and will measure 3.75 metres in diameter and over 20 metres in length.

The storm water screws will each be driven by 560 kilowatt main driver motors, and be capable of lifting four tonnes of water per second. This means that the combined effort of the pumping station’s six screws will be able to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every two minutes while running at full pelt.

The pumping station is expected to be the largest facility of its kind in the world upon completion.

The new facility is part of extensive measures undertaken by Yorkshire Water to protect the flood-prone Bransholme and Kingswood areas during periods of heavy rainfall, in response to the severe flooding experienced in 2007.

In addition to the new pumping station, Yorkshire Water is also doubling the water storage capacity of the adjacent Bransholme Lagoon, which serves as the area’s chief storage reservoir.

Archimedes screws of the type employed by the pumping station were first devised by their eponymous Greek inventor in the 3rd century BC as a means of removing bilge water from the hull of one of the largest ocean-going vessels ever built during classical antiquity. 

Screw pumps are frequently employed for water displacement purposes because of their ability to shift large volumes of liquid with high levels of efficiency.

The large flights and clearances of Archimedes screws also mean that they are capable of shifting the solid debris which is invariably found in flood water without jamming, while the simplicity of the devices increases their reliability and ease of maintenance.

A further advantage of the screw pumps is their ability to operate in the absence of water, which means that they can be test run under dry conditions in order to safeguard their functioning.