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What Is a Wicket Gate?

A wicket gate on a hydroelectric dam helps control the flow of water that reaches the generator.
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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Image By: Harvey Barrison
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2014
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A wicket gate is a small opening within a larger door or gate. It may consist of a full-size swinging door or gate used for entry, or a smaller opening that swings or slides to permit access. The term wicket gate may also refer to a removable section of wall or fence within a larger structure. For example, a wicket gate in the walls of an industrial building can be removed to bring very large pieces of equipment into a facility. Wicket gate also has a religious connotation in some regions, as this term can be found in some religious texts.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, wicket gates may have included doors used to empty and refill canal locks. This term also referred to openings around a water body used to control the flow of water to an industrial water wheel. In modern days, wicket gate typically refers to doors or openings found on hydroelectric dams.

On a hydroelectric dam, a wicket gate helps to control the flow of water as it reaches the generator, which in turn determines how much power the dam can generate. These gates are very important to the dam's performance and operation. Most dams contain a number of wicket gates, which vary widely in size and design depending on the function of the dam.

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At a standard hydroelectric plant, series of wicket gates surround the entire turbine. These gates can be closed completely to prevent any water from reaching the blades of the turbine. When a wicket gate is opened, water passes through to reach these blades, causing them to rotate. This rotation spins the entire turbine, which powers a large generator. This generator produces electricity, which is then distributed through the power grid to power homes and businesses.

The wicket gates on a hydroelectric dam are carefully controlled based on the power production goals of the facility. By opening these gates wide, plant managers can make the turbine spin more quickly, resulting in greater energy production. By closing the wicket gates, managers can slow the flow of water and slow or halt energy production.

A wicket gate around a turbine also makes it easier for workers to stop the flow of water in order to perform maintenance work. Many of these gates include a hydraulic control system that allows users to automatically operate the gates without manual intervention. These control systems, as well as the gates themselves must be carefully designed to meet the demands of water pressure and other factors.

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