19 March 2014

First Ram Pump Implemented in Honduras

AguaClara plants use some of the filtered water they produce in the chemical stock tanks and bathrooms of the plant. Since the plants rely on gravity, clean water comes out of the plant at a lower elevation than the entrance level of the plant. This means that the plant operators must physically carry the filtered water up multiple flights of stairs to the main level of the plant.
The goal of the Ram Pump team is to lessen the strain on the operator by creating a pump that brings water back up to the plant following the AguaClara philosophy of sustainability by using no electricity, being easy to use and operate, and having a simple, efficient design.

On the winter break trip to Honduras, the first Ram Pump was implemented in an AguaClara plant. The team met with the plant operators to go through the different parts, explain how it worked and then build the ram pump on site. They then built a concrete tank for the ram pump to fit in, after it was poured they had to wait until the third day to run it. After getting through some initial clogging due to debris, the ram pump worked outstandingly. Once the water started running through it, the ram pump turned out a flow rate that was even higher than the team had last measured in the lab.

Unfortunately, there were some issues with the implementation. The water flow rate into the pump was higher than the team had used in lab to design it, and there is a change in elevation in the underground pipe system of the plant that the team had not known about. Since they were unable to account for the elevation change the pump is currently not working, so engineers and plant operators at the plant are working to determine the best method of fixing the pipes.

Ram Pump
The Ram Pump team is continuing their work in the lab. Last semester, the team made great strides in improving the pump design as well as their lab. They successfully developed a head loss system using pipes designed to simulate the difference in elevation the water must be carried up through, they were able to increase the flow rate of the water through the system and made improvements on the recycling system as well. At the end of last semester the team bought a $500 commercial pump to see how the ram pump would compare, and theirs outperformed the commercial one!

This semester the team is continuing work to make the pump more efficient and reliable, increase the delivery flow rate, and scale the pump design for use in more plants of different sizes to determine if we should consider making the ram pump a more permanent feature of the AguaClara plant design.

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