James Bicheno Francis

Francis, James Bicheno


Born May 18, 1815, in Southleigh, England; died Sept. 18, 1892, in Lowell, Mass. American hydraulic engineer.

After emigrating to the United States in 1833, Francis worked on a number of engineering projects involving, for example, railroad and canal construction. In 1837 he became chief engineer of a company that owned hydraulic works on the Merrimack River. In 1847, Francis proposed a design for a hydraulic turbine with peripheral water admission to the runner. Subsequent refinement of the design led to the development of modern mixed-flow turbines that produce more than 600 megawatts of power; such turbines are often called Francis turbines.