The world’s first glass and stainless steel waterwheel, measuring 7m in diameter, is nearing completion ready for the July 2001 opening of the Gaia Energy Centre in North Cornwall, UK.

The wheel will be one of the key working exhibits in the interactive Gaia SWEB Renewable Energy Exhibition to show the public how renewable energy can be harnessed for domestic and commercial use.

Designed and manufactured at Hydra in Indian Queens, North Cornwall, the 2.8t wheel has taken over 600 hours to assemble. Constructed from rolled pipe and laser cut stainless steel, the mirror-like finish comes from hours of cleaning and polishing.

Twenty-four buckets, made entirely from special toughened and heat soaked glass will be attached to the stainless steel structure. Each one contains 130 litres of water to drive the wheel.

‘We have never had a commission quite like this one, even though we are an engineering company specialising in stainless steel,’ said Mike Foote, director of Hydra. ‘If we can help promote the importance of a healthy and sustainable environment, then we will have achieved something.’