Partner: Proximity Designs
Plans turned over to Proximity in Myanmar
Peet Lau (business), Yuan Chun Ling (mechanical engineering), Neeraj Sonalkar (mechanical engineering), Dana Ung (mechanical engineering)
In Myanmar and many other places in the developing world, the suction treadle pump has been a successful technology for small-plot irrigation. However, suction treadle pumps have a theoretical physical limit: they can only suck water up from wells that are less than 10 meters deep. In places where the water table is deeper than 10 meters, a different kind of “deep-lift” pump must be used. Although such pumps have been designed before, they are typically very expensive—usually over a hundred dollars—out of the range of most small-plot farmers. IDE|M commissioned a team to redesign the deep-lift pump to be affordable for the farmers they were trying to serve.
Deep-lift pumps typically have three major components beneath ground level: a liner pipe which provides structural support for the tube well, a riser pipe which carries the water up to the surface, and a piston rod which connects to the submerged piston. By pioneering a “drop-in” valve, the team created an innovative way to eliminate the riser pipe from their design, effectively cutting the material cost by one third. At the end of the class project, the team had a functional prototype that lifted water over fifty feet (15+ meters) for under fifty dollars. They called it the 50/50 pump.
What’s happening now?
During the Extreme Affordability class, the team chose to focus on the below-ground portion of the pump. This meant that the above-ground part of the pump remained to be designed. During the summer of 2007, two members of the team spent time in Myanmar, working with IDE|M design and manufacturing staff to create an above-ground treadle mechanism for the pump. By the end of the summer they had created such a mechanism and had built a few deep-lift pumps for endurance testing. After receiving funding from Project Redwood for further testing, the plans were turned over to IDE|M.