Next fall I will be studying abroad in Montevideo, Uruguay, and I decided this week was the perfect time to look into an engineering accomplishment in the country. Uruguay might not be known for their engineering advancements, but every country has to have a few accomplishments in the industry.
Today we are going to take a look at the Rincon del Bonete Dam located 269 km from Montevideo. It was completed in 1945 and produced the largest freshwater lake in Uruguay. The dam is set on the Rio Negro creating the lake spanning 1,140 sq. km. which contains 6.4 cubic km. of water.
Uruguay was heavily dependent on other countries for fuel to produce power since they had no resources of their own. This motivation led engineers to begin looking into the possibilities of hydroelectric power in the country. Through exploration the idea of a dam at Rincon del Donete was first proposed in 1930 and accepted by the government it 1934.
Construction was started in 1937 but due to rationing from World War II equipment was scarce and the construction took longer than expected.
At the start this was run by a group of German engineering companies. Construction was running smoothly when in 1942 Uruguay broke relations with Germany. Uruguay negotiated with the United States to acquire a loan for materials and equipment to finish the hydroelectric plant. An American engineering company was hired to work along side the Uruguayan workers.
The majority of the dam is designed with flying buttresses flanked with concrete wings. The largest height is 40.8 meters. The buttresses are reinforced, and the spillway and base slab are heavily reinforced. The grouting was completed in four stages from top to bottom in two layers in order to protect against any seepage.
The dam has four turbines with 6 blades each. The generators were produced by General Electric and are immediately connected to water-cooled transformers.
The Rincon del Bonete Dam was the first hydroelectric plant in Uruguay and it has really transformed the power industry in country. Since 1945 many other dams have been constructed on the Rio Negro as well as other national rivers. A lot of the construction on the Rincon del Bonete Dam was done by international companies, but Uruguay has been a true testament to the phrase “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime”. Uruguay has found a way to be more nationally dependant and stable in their power sources.
I can’t wait to go to Uruguay. I’ll be studying engineering at the University of Montevideo and am excited to see how engineering education varies from country to country. I hope to be exposed to more Uruguayan engineering accomplishments, but I will try to plan a trip to visit the Rincon del Bonete Dam. To be able to see one of the feats I have researched will be very rewarding. From the culture to the sights I doubt I will have a dull minute abroad.
http://www.frenchriverland.com/WATER%2520POWER%25201951%2520-%2520Hydro electric%2520Development%2520in%2520Paso%2520de%2520los%2520Toros%2520Uruguay.pdf+&hl=en gl=us&pid=bl srcid=ADGEESjg3d5TuqsrvWdjE7Rm375gWAiLJKDR6tmOlMxC9RLSJvQb0xuAZxQFeMHxGKJA2Q7epige8i1azEDVS0nrcTR-n4ej9tFRfFCOd2x-yNGHfu7bkWUkIwIIxlUvV4PSQfNMkYz8&sig=AHIEtbRNY-4HqwM6IW_wsasiAOKxyHbzEw