Marte Fekkes is currently developping a design proposal for and field test a prototype of a wind powered pump. This pump is suitable to developing regions (field case Palestine) and is made in cooperation with the NGO Comet-ME.
Palestinian Bedouins live with and from their herds and crops. They live in caves, without electricity or a water connection. And they are content people, easy going and always in for a joke. Working hard in the early morning, drinking tea the afternoons. Whenever the land was grazed bare, they would migrate to a next hill. This is where a problem occurs: as Israel closes more and more land to them, the hills are getting more and more overgrazed.
Right now the hills are not irrigated at all - as you might imagine water is scarce in the region. This is not due to a lack of rainfall (it annually rains as much as in London City) but the fact that this rain falls in a few events a year. Rainwater is stored in cisterns; the further these are the more effort it takes to access the water. In other words: what they need is a pump. And, of course, energy to work this pump. Preferably locally produced, so that it is them getting rich instead of China.
This is where I step in: I'm currently prototyping a wind powered peristaltic pump. A peristaltic pump works with a hose, squeezing it together to push the water forwards. This hose gives two major advantages:
- as water leaks very easily and production facilities there are not as precise as we are used to here many pumps for the Base of the Pyramid fail due to leakage or scratching. The flexibility in the material of the hose allows it to be squeezed a bit too hard or too soft, without compromising all functionality. It might become a pump that every local craftsman can build that would work for longer than a year. The only thing he'd need to import is this hose.
- you can squeeze it in a rotary motion. This implies that the wind rotor does not need its energy transferred to a linear motion - saving on material, efficiency and complexity.
After initial tests (materials funded by S4S!) it appeared the production precision would need to be 1mm - where normally water starts leaking in gaps as small as 0.1mm. Of course, 1mm is still the thickness of your pencils mark. Carefulness is still required, but it is a precision you can notice with the bare eye. In two weeks I'll return to Palestine to verify whether it's enough.