We are delighted to be able to announce that the Wellcome Trust have agreed to a further funding package of £1.45M to cover toolmaking, pilot production and launch across 8 East African countries. The extended project will run until August 2021, bridging a critical funding gap between applied research and commercial-sustainability.
Thermofluidics Engineers have installed our first deeper-well Pre-Series 0 Impact Pump at George Arombe’s family compound, Rabour, Kisumu province, Kenya. The pump is lifting water from a depth of 24m to serve a community of around 60 people. It is powered by a modified Futurepump SF2.
A treadle pump was spontaneously coupled to one of our gamma-uDAHRs in Kenya over the winter holiday period. This coincided with a minor breakage in the Futurepump SF2 drive pump during a time when no staff were on hand to fix the problem. The farmer reported good performance from the treadle-uDAHR combination, though said he was “looking forward” to having his solar pump working again!
Thermofluidics rebrands the uDAHR as “Impact Pump”, as it moves towards production readiness. The Impact Pump will be launched under the brand “Impact Pumps”.
Thermofluidics has successfully completed 12 months of field trials of the Impact Pump (gamma prototype) at 2 sites in Kenya and 2 sites in Bangladesh, powered by Futurepump SF2 drive pumps. No Impact Pump failures occurred during any of the trials.
UK-based commissioning tests of our new generation of “Pre-Series 0” uDAHR prototypes have been completed in our test well in Beckley, Oxfordshire. The prototype was operated at a typical full solar-pump load for approximately 2000 hours, representing between 1 and 2 years’ typical operation in the field. Although entirely made from machined parts at significant unit cost, the PS0 is one step removed from low-cost mass production processes such as casting, injection moulding, pressing, stamping and extrusion.
We have completed a set of CAD models and drawings for our “Pre-Series 0” prototype. This improves on the gamma uDAHR, currently in operation in Kenya and Bangladesh, in a number of ways. The PS0 offers larger diameter pipework connections with implied greater hydraulic efficiencies (>80%, c.f. 70-75% previously) without increasing the pump diameter. It self-starts with all drive pumps (c.f. only drive pumps with a significant “unsteady” component to their flow), and auto-recovers from dry-running without the need for re-priming. Accelerated testing also indicates a much longer service interval than the gamma-uDAHR is possible. However, this is hard to prove as no gamma uDAHRs have yet required service!
An accelerated endurance test of key components is underway at the Thermofluidics lab. The aim is to achieve 10,000hrs fault-free running to underpin the robustness of the uDAHR and prove the low-maintenance, long lifespan characteristics that outperform traditional electrical submersible pumps. The test is currently approaching 5,000hrs without failure.
Farmers have reported that cultivated area and yield have both improved since the start of the trials. Examples of crops being grown include tomatoes, potatoes, millet, paw paw, napier grass, vegetables, bananas, passion fruits and lemons.
Remote monitoring and regular communication with the farmer field sites have shown that the pumps are operating well and with minimum intervention at both sites in Bangladesh and Kenya. The next step for the team will be to advance the technology readiness levels and address a wider range of flows and heads.