Kinetic Pump Powered by Water Can Irrigate Without Electricity
11 August 2018
Most water pumps rely heavily on electricity, gas, or solar energy, and yet many rural areas in the developing world do not have access to power sources. In absence of a cost-effective alternative, farmers manually carry water for many hours a day or depend only on rainfall. They may cultivate only one season per year (as opposed to four), limiting their income significantly.
The Netherlands-based aQysta attempts to provide a more sustainable solution with its Barsha pump, which delivers water for agricultural irrigation without fuel, electricity, operating expenses, or greenhouse gas emissions. Its three cofounders —Lennart Budelmann, Fred Henny, and Thapa—are engineers who met at the Delft University of Technology.
Called Barsha Pump (after the Nepali word for ‘rain’) Thapa’s invention won them several awards, including the Phillips Innovation Award and Bearing Point Award. This was followed by the registration of the company aQysta in the Netherlands in 2013 to promote the pumps.
The Barsha is a spiral pump, in which two vertical discs composed of coiled tubes are partially submerged in a flowing river. Blades sit between these two discs, facing the flow. The river’s movement causes the disks to spin, gradually scooping water into the spiraled tubes, where it is eventually flushed into irrigation pipes and onto farmers’ fields.
Pumps powered by the kinetic force of water are nothing new. The spiral pump was reportedly invented in 1746 to provide water for a dye works outside of Zurich. At that time, the spiral pump wasn’t very efficient due to a lack of lightweight materials.
The latest model is both durable and efficient, with a maximum flow of 43,000 liters per day, capable of irrigating about five acres of land.
The pump has a special spiral pipe where the water helps compress the air, which in turn lifts water up to a maximum height of 20m or a distance of 2km.
The simple pump has its limits: If the coils capture too much air, it won’t work well with an irrigation system. aQysta is working to remedy this bug with adaptations for different communities. At a pump installation in Spain, for example, Shah and his team added vents and valves to eliminate trapped air. As aQysta scales in different regions, such customization remains critical.
|Written by: Charlie Fischer|