18.5.1815 Southleigh/UK - 18.9.1892 Boston/USA
In 1829, the young James Bicheno Francis was employed on the harbor works of Porth Cawl where his father was the superintendent. James was in 1831 engaged in Devonshire on the Grand Western Canal. He came in 1833 to America, a favorable time for engineers in the era of railroad building. In 1834, Francis was associated with the hydraulic improvements of Lowell in New England and from 1837 was the chief engineer of the locks and canals of the Merrimack River. In 1845 he was appointed chief engineer of Lowell for nearly forty years during which he improved its waters. He was a founder of the American Society of Civil Engineers ASCE and its president in 1881.
Francis had under his personal charge all that pertained to the management of the water power and a prominent and delicate feature was the equal distribution of power among the several companies. This service called for hydraulic experiments in a scale that was so far not attempted. The principal results of his work are published in the 1855 book which was re-published in 1868 and in 1883. This work is a recognized authority among hydraulic engineers both in America and in Europe. Francis may be considered a founder of a novel school in hydraulics with his experimental approach later partly copied by Henry Darcy (1803-1858) and Henry Bazin (1829-1917) for their weir flow tests. Francis' experiments are known for accuracy relating to flow gauging and floating tubes. It was only recognized by the end of the 19th century that Francis had invented a novel type of turbine, referred to as the Francis turbine. It contains a runner with water passages through it by curved vanes of blades. As the water passes through the runner it causes rotation to the runner which is transmitted by a shaft to a generator. Francis turbines are currently used for medium hydraulic heads and high discharges.
Anonymous (1887). James B. Francis. Engineering News 17(1): 14. P
Francis, J.B. (1855). Lowell hydraulic experiments being a selection from experiments on hydraulic motors on the flow of water over weirs, and in canals of uniform rectangular section and of short length made at Lowell. Little, Brown&Co: Boston MA.
Francis, J.B. (1875). Report on a test-trial of a Swain turbine water wheel. Journal of the Franklin Institute 99: 1-8.
Francis, J.B. (1878). On the cause of the maximum velocity of water flowing in open channels being below the surface. Trans. ASCE 7: 109-113.
Greene, G.S. (1893). James Bicheno Francis, Hon. M. ASCE. Trans. ASCE 28: 74-77. P

Hydraulicians in Europe 1800-2000 . 2013.

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