HARP - Hydraulic Automated Ram Pump
Concept video introducing HARP
Concept video introducing HARP
The operation of a Hydraulic Ram Pump with HARP
The value HARP adds to Hydraulic Ram Pumps
The design progress of HARP
The expanded applications of Hydraulic Ram Pumps with HARP
What it does
HARP digitally controls the operation of the HRP, solving the pump’s reliance on manual control to start, stop, and throttle. It unlocks the potential of this zero-carbon pump to decarbonise modern domestic, agricultural, and hydroelectric water systems.
I helped maintain HRPs from an early age – repairing and restarting them, I was inspired by their simplicity. Pumping consumes 10% of the world's generated electricity, a cost that will double by 2050 due to climate change and population increase. My PhD showed how HRPs can offset this, but until now their analogue design has left them as an 18th century technology. For the last five years, I have worked to solve this. Inspired by modern engines, HARP is the equivalent of a starter motor, throttle, and sensor suite for an HRP. Using HARP, water systems will become more affordable, carbon-friendly, and accessible to those who need them most.
How it works
Flowing water has energy. The HRP harvests this energy by allowing water to accelerate through it, impacting the Impulse Valve. On reaching a critical flow speed the valve slams shut, creating a pressure wave. This pressure forces water through a non-return valve into an adjacent pressure chamber. The pressurised chamber forces the water uphill. The Impulse Valve then re-opens and the process repeats. The Impulse Valve controls the HRP and HARP controls the Impulse Valve. The device uses solar-powered motors to force the valve to open (jump-starting the HRP), adjust the size of opening (to control the speed of the pump), and close (to stop the pump). If the speed of the flowing water varies, the HARP can adjust the Impulse Valve to optimise efficiency, and in low flow situations, prevent it from stalling. This IoT device creates an HRP with the control of an electric pump.
I began the design process by building a custom HRP to trial various control mechanisms. The Impulse Valve proved to be the ideal location to automate control because: a) its action was primarily responsible for controlling the pump; b) it was the optimal point to collect data; and, c) it allowed easy retrofit of existing HRPs. The first prototype was designed to imitate a throttle for the HRP, and successfully tuned the speed of the pump by altering the aperture of the Impulse Valve. However, the pump still required manual assistance to start, so the next two prototypes focused on a method for jump-starting the cycle. Finally, a simple mechanical technique to “cold start” the pump was created which forced the valve open until the water flowed fast enough to create the initial pressure wave. WiFi & LoRa compatibility completed the original concept for the HARP. The latest prototype uses a 3D printed case with integrated solar cells to power the sensors and motor. HARP now includes a vibration sensor which monitors the shockwave’s propagation and can measure the health of the pump by its “heartbeat”.
How it is different
HARP creates a system that can mimic the control of an electric pump but consumes no electricity. It ensures the HRP operates at maximum efficiency, and continuously monitors its health. These advances ensure HRPs can now be integrated into modern water networks. HARP reduces the cost, environmental damage, and carbon footprint of water management. The automation of HRPs massively expands their applications. They can now be used, at scale, to provide low-cost smart irrigation, supplement hydroelectric schemes, and save power in domestic water grids. HARP revitalises an old technology to create the world’s first smart zero-carbon pump.
Our goal is to provide low-cost, eco-friendly water management around the world. The immediate priority is to develop HARP with a robust control app and take it to market. We are also developing an ultra-low-cost HRP, to be used with HARP, to improve the global reach of this technology. We are engaged in collaborative research with Imperial College London and the CCCI’s Greenhouse accelerator to assist our product development and marketing. In the future, we intend to deploy smart HRPs across all sectors of water management, providing efficient zero-carbon pumping.
The HARP concept won a place on the Centre for Climate Change Innovation’s Greenhouse accelerator.