Theoretical Concept: Air powered water pump

Steven LakeSteven Lake Solar Expert Posts: 395 ✭✭
Hey again everyone, I've got an idea that's intrigued me for a while since I first heard of the concept, and I thought I'd run it past you to see what you thought.  Just like the title says I came across the idea some time back for an air powered water pump.  I've seen numerous ideas for it including commercial rotary models and old fashioned air lift type pumps.  However, the one that intrigues me the most, and seems the best DIY option for air powered water pumping, is a system that uses high pressure air to drive the water up, but simple water pressure to fill the pumping chamber.  Let me explain further.

The pump consists of a single 5ft section of pipe with two check valves for water and a two way air valve at the top which is controlled by a float.  The air valve is Y shaped and has one port connected to the pump body, the second to a high pressure air hose (90psi)r, and the third port is open to the outside for purposes of venting.  The two check valves are located one on the bottom (for filling) and one coming out the side connected to a delivery hose that lifts water out of the well.

The way this pump works is the cycle begins with the air valve at the top in the open (venting) position and the float at the bottom of the pump.  The lower check valve opens (simple water pressure does this) allowing water to rush in and fill the body of the pump.  The float in turn rises until the water reaches a specified height.  Then it hits a stop at the top which pushes the air valve into its second position.  This then switches the valve from the open (venting) to the high pressure air side.  This closes the bottom check valve and opens the one in the side that leads to the delivery pipe.

The high pressure air then forces the water down and out the second check valve and up the well as the float follows it to the bottom.  It then reaches another stop there which then returns the air valve to the venting position, stopping the high pressure air from continuing to enter.  The air valve then lets out all the air pressure, causing the delivery valve to shut and the bottom check valve to open, beginning the cycle over again.  I know some of you might look at this and be dumbstruck as to why something like this would even be worth considering given all the available solar and wind options out there.

For me, this is one of those projects that asks two questions.  The first is, if this could be done, how would I do it?  The second is, is there a real world for this?  The second one I think is what makes it practical whereas the first discovers if it's possible.  I've mentally worked my way through this and can come up with ways to make this work with a couple electrical float switches, but I still haven't quite come up with a way to make this work entirely mechanically.  The reason I would use this design instead of the commercial offerings is that this would fit in a standard 6" well casing.  The commercial offerings will not.

Now, as for the practical purposes of this, have any of you ever heard of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity?  It's a growing ailment that, at least so far, the medical community is treating as a pathological disorder in the realm of psychosis.  IE, those who claim to suffer from it are just mental and it's all in their head.  However, I've worked with people who actually suffer from this and it's very real.  I know of one lady in particular who lives Grizzly Adams style because she can't be around ANY type of EM field generated by anything, even a flashlight.  She's an extreme example, but still a valid one.  I have my suspicions of why the medical industry won't touch this, but that gets into political and monetary entanglements, so I'll just leave it at that.

Anyhow, knowing about her and some others like her who have this disorder is part of what got me intrigued with the idea.  I like this from the "can it be done" aspect, and at the same time if something like this could be made to work DIY style, guys like me could help people like that who are otherwise being ignored.  Anyhow, sorry for the long post, but I wanted to lay this out in a way you could understand as I'm not sure you would know about any of this.  I'm greatly interested in hearing your thoughts on this.  Now, as for how something like this would be powered (ie, where would the pressurized air come from), that's easy to answer.  We'd just install large storage tanks and an air compressor windmill on site.  If that didn't work due to lack of wind or other things, and the person wasn't TOO hyper sensitive to EM fields, a solar array could be built a comfortable distance away and an electric air pump could be used to supply the air for anything in the house that needed it, including the well.

My biggest thinking with trying to figure this out is to help the one lady I mentioned by building and installing one of these on her property to give her running water, which she doesn't have.  Like I said, she's forced to live Grizzly Adams style due to her sensitivity, and I'd like to give her some semblance of modernity if possible.  Anyways, your thoughts are greatly appreciated.  Thanks.

Comments

  • Steven LakeSteven Lake Solar Expert Posts: 395 ✭✭
    http://www.thebackshed.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=4201

    I found the post where I originally saw the idea just so you have it for reference.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,234 ✭✭✭✭✭
    There are going to be high losses compressing the air, and moving the water.   Hope you have a free source of compressed air
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,994 admin
    Use a standard airlift pump to a cistern, then use a small RV pump (battery+solar panel+charge controller) to pressurize the line to the cabin.

    If really concerned about EMI--Put the pump+battery+electronics in a metal box (with venting) (or copper/brass wire screen room). Use conduit for battery box to base of solar panel (wiring in metal tube of 10 foot will attenuate anything over ~30 MHz.

    While it is possible (I guess) to be hyper sensitive to EMI fields. I wonder if some of it is psychosomatic. Installing the system 30+ feet from the cabin in a metal box/wire screen area--I doubt that the installation would be even have measurable emissions above ambient background radio waves.

    Without knowing the actual sensitivity (frequency range, levels of emissions), it is difficult to figure out an exact solution--And instead, more or less, just doing the standard to keep radio emissions to the minimum (over 30 MHz for through the air emissions, under 30 MHz for emissions conducted through cabling).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    I don't understand why a conventional pump won't work for her... do the EM fields come out the faucet? 

    Where will the compressed air come from?  There must be some EM fields produced by the air compressor.  Why won't that be a problem?

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,994 admin
    There are some air compressor based wind turbines out there...

    http://windcompressor.com/html/compressors.html
    http://windcompressor.com/html/water.html
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airlift_pump

    I am not a fan of wind power/turbines in general... But it it works for your application--May be worth of look.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,234 ✭✭✭✭✭
    We have a windmill from a Pone Aeration supply company, it has enough pressure to run a large airstone 20' deep under water
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • JohannJohann Solar Expert Posts: 240 ✭✭✭
    edited July 2016 #8
    So, you are replacing one electro magnetic generator with a few more electro magnetic generators ?
    Wind mill, compressor and other things that all create more electrical noise.


  • jonrjonr Solar Expert Posts: 1,266 ✭✭✭✭
    Why don't you use pressurized water to pump water?    It's called a deep well jet pump and fits in even 2" well casings.

    I am available for custom hardware/firmware development

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,994 admin
    Jet pumps tend to be inefficient, from what I know. An in well pump (solar friendly type) would be better.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Steven LakeSteven Lake Solar Expert Posts: 395 ✭✭
    vtmaps said:
    I don't understand why a conventional pump won't work for her... do the EM fields come out the faucet? 

    Where will the compressed air come from?  There must be some EM fields produced by the air compressor.  Why won't that be a problem?

    --vtMaps
    I don't know the exact distance at which she's sensitive, just that you can't be near here with anything that generates or uses electricity.  As for the compressed air, as I said to mike, it'd be made using an air compressor windmill.
    mike95490 said:
    There are going to be high losses compressing the air, and moving the water.   Hope you have a free source of compressed air
    Yeah, I would.  As I said I'd be using a wind powered air compressor.  You can actually buy windmills that do nothing but compress air.

    Johann said:
    So, you are replacing one electro magnetic generator with a few more electro magnetic generators ?
    Wind mill, compressor and other things that all create more electrical noise.


    It's like I said to Mike, I'd be using a windmill air compressor.  BB posted a few solutions.
    BB. said:
    There are some air compressor based wind turbines out there...

    http://windcompressor.com/html/compressors.html
    http://windcompressor.com/html/water.html
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airlift_pump

    I am not a fan of wind power/turbines in general... But it it works for your application--May be worth of look.

    -Bill

    Holy crap, I didn't even know they made pumps using the air pump idea I was talking about!! 0.0  Well now, you learn something new every day. :)  Dude, you absolutely get the epic win award today!!! :D  <3
  • Steven LakeSteven Lake Solar Expert Posts: 395 ✭✭
    Oh, and as for the cistern idea, I've already considered that.  In fact, we're probably going to be installing a small water tower for her, likely at least 50ft, if not 100ft if we can get away with it.  Although it looks like 50ft may be the best we can do.  But even then that's at least 20lbs of water pressure in the house, so that's a huge improvement from buckets and a hand pump. :)
  • Solar2Solar2 Registered Users Posts: 26 ✭✭

    Your pump will not be able to draw water.
    It would have to be placed below the water surface.

    Where we came from in Indiana, the Amish commonly use air to pump water.
    There are also installations using hydraulic.
    They do it using a standard 4" submerged pump to which they fit a vain type air motor.

    The main problem they come up with happens when the air is vented at the air motor,
    because they are too cheap to buy the additional vent line.
    The air oxidizes the iron in the water (ferrous to ferric) which builds up and closes the well.
    Hydraulic systems mandate a return line.



    18 Kw PV;  2000 AHr FLA Bat; 12 Kw Inverter;  20 Kw Kohler, LP, low speed, double muffled,   Home built, ground coupled heat pump, VFD enabled;  Leaf
  • Steven LakeSteven Lake Solar Expert Posts: 395 ✭✭
    Yeah, I already knew that it'd require the pump being submerged given that the only way to fill it is natural water pressure.
  • JohannJohann Solar Expert Posts: 240 ✭✭✭
    edited July 2016 #15

    Johann said:
    So, you are replacing one electro magnetic generator with a few more electro magnetic generators ?
    Wind mill, compressor and other things that all create more electrical noise.

    Steven Lake said
    It's like I said to Mike, I'd be using a windmill air compressor.  BB posted a few solutions.


    Air moving over the blades creates a lot of static electricity and with it magnetic fields, but how much is created depends what material is used and the weather.  Anything that moves can do the same thing, so different materials generate different amounts.
    It's not a secret, it's science.

    Adding things can make things worse.
  • Steven LakeSteven Lake Solar Expert Posts: 395 ✭✭
    Well, then the simple solution is to keep everything well grounded to avoid that being an issue.  Either that or locate the windmill further away from the house if it becomes a problem.
  • dwhdwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
    Use a sterling engine to drive a pump designed like the fuel pump from a Honda inverter generator.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,994 admin
    How would a Stirling Engine help? Other than models and small DIY type Stirlings--Are there any "commercially" available Stirling engines out there that I could "bolt" onto a load?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Steven LakeSteven Lake Solar Expert Posts: 395 ✭✭
    I don't think there is anything.  I know the big power companies have them in limited use, but those are special order.  As far as a commercial end user option, I haven't heard of anything yet.  Then again I didn't know about the commercially made air powered pumps either. so I could be wrong.
  • wellbuiltwellbuilt Solar Expert Posts: 354 ✭✭✭
    A air lift would be easy to do . 
    Its made out of a 2" pvc pipe . 
    You run air into the bottom of the pipe . 
    The air bubbles up and brings the water with it , it is not pressurized put will work to fill a tank .
     The down fall is you need water in 2/3s of the pipe . 
     We used a small oil less ac pump . 
    Out back  flex power one  with out back 3648 inverter fm80 charge controler  flex net  mate 16 gc215 battery’s 4425 Watts solar .
  • solarvicsolarvic Solar Expert Posts: 1,051 ✭✭✭✭
    There are a lot of Amish in my area and there is one that has a wind turbine that pumps air into the well one one pipe and it comes back up the other pipe. He only lives about 5 miles from me. I always wanted to talk to him about how it works. If you would like I can find out where he got it and what brand it is. Around here are different groups of Amish and they all live by the rules their bishop tells them to.
    Some sects are really strict and some are more lenient.
  • solarvicsolarvic Solar Expert Posts: 1,051 ✭✭✭✭
    I wen,t and looked at the sites for the pumps that B B listed. None of them looked like them one. The one the Amish man has the old fashion blades that look like the old time windmills had.
  • Steven LakeSteven Lake Solar Expert Posts: 395 ✭✭
    Yeah, the one you're talking about is a basic air lift pump.  They're rather inefficient, but they do work if you don't mind all the bubbles that it induces into your water and all the sputtering that comes with it.  lol.
Sign In or Register to comment.