The Flexi-Pipe Pump is a simple, reliable and low cost water pump for the developing world. It is powered by compressed air that can be provided by a simple bicycle pump. In order to pump water, the Flexi-Pipe Pump chamber is submerged underwater. The user can then start operating the bicycle pump, with no priming required water is brought to the surface through the hose pipe. The Pump works by air displacement. When air is pumped into the chamber, it displaces the water forcing it to the surface; the air is then sucked out of the chamber, allowing it to refill with water. The adaptable Pump has been designed for; domestic use, as a back-up pump and for temporary use in emergency situations. The pump can easily be made from different materials, which keeps the cost low. Compared to other pumps, it is small and lightweight; can be easily transported, installed and maintained by one person. It can also pump water to an elevated tank for storage and to provide a gravity fed water system.
1.1 billion people lack access to safe water*; they often have to rely on walking miles to collect water from contaminated above ground water sources. There is a need for pumps to bring uncontaminated water to the surface. However, “A 2007 survey across 21 nations showed the likelihood a pump was broken was 36%!”** Pumps can remain broken due to a lack of spare parts or specialist knowledge. The Pump chamber only has marbles for moving parts and works with a bicycle pump or similar, which is a known quantity in rural areas, meaning that maintenance and repair can be easily carried out by low skilled labour, ensuring a long life for the Pump. Development organisations have found that selling pumps that the end user can afford to purchase themselves has produced sustainable development. Therefore keeping the purchase and maintenance cost to a minimum is imperative.
The iterative design of the Pump was focused on modelling and prototyping. All the prototypes have been tested in above ground wells, their performance analysed and the design of individual components optimised. During initial development, a 316% increase in water output was achieved by analysing the pressure losses produced though the one way valves and by testing different ball sizes. The simplicity of the Pump has been increased throughout the design process. The submerged pump chamber has no mechanical moving parts, only two marbles that act as one way valves. This means that the Pump is unlikely to suffer from mechanical failure. The Pump will be continue to be developed in the UK over 2011, and will be field tested in the developing world in 2012.