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Ship lock and lift help ships climb over Yangtze River dam

(People's Daily Online)    17:31, August 02, 2018

The Three Gorges Dam

The world’s largest ship lock and lift, found at the Three Gorges Dam on China’s Yangtze River, help ships complete a “smooth transfer” over the 113-meter-high water level difference by “climbing stairs” or “taking a lift”.

The ship lock has two tracks, which each contain five lock chambers, much like stairs in a building. Ships can “climb over” the dam thanks to the dedicated tracks that go either upstream or downstream.

After entering the first chamber, the water level inside will be controlled so as to lift or lower the ship to the position of the next chamber, giving the effect of ships “climbing up” or “climbing down” the chambers one by one until they reach the water level at the other side of the dam.

The ship lock

Since it opened in 2003, the cumulative throughput of the ship lock has reached 1.1 billion tons, with the annual throughput reaching its design capacity 19 years ahead of schedule.

The ship lift on the Three Gorges Dam, the final addition to the Three Gorges Project, is also the world’s most advanced ship lift. It helps ships climb over the dam much more quickly than they would be able to using the ship lock.

Previously, it took three to four hours for a ship to pass the dam using the ship lock, but since the trial opening of the ship lift in September 2016, the whole process can be completed in about 40 minutes.

Interior of the ship lift

After entering the ship reception chamber, ships are lifted or lowered to the height of the water level at the other side of the dam, and then lowered into the channel on the other side.

The ship lift is mainly used to help 3,000-ton large passenger ships, cargo ships and special ships move over the dam, while the majority of ships still need to use the ship lock. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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