Picture of Efficient Water Pump

Follow these instructions to make a really simple water pump that's easy to make and works efficiently. We designed this pump for a brief we were given at the Glasgow School of Art to attempt to design and create the most efficient way possible of lifting water up by 60mm. You can apply this design to a number of areas, but it's also just a lot of fun to make and get working.

It began as a more traditional rope pump but soon evolved into what is sometimes called an 'elephant pump', a design based on 1000 BC Chinese designs. This pump works using a rope covered in little discs that is dragged up a pipe. Water gets trapped between consecutive discs and is elevated up the pipe, just like a lift would take you up to your hotel room. At the top of the pipe there is a reservoir where the water comes out, is collected, and is then directed to wherever it needs to go.

Some of the decisions we made when designing the pump were made because of what materials and equipment were available to us. We understand these will not be the same for everyone so we would encourage you to alter the design to suit your needs best. The premise for this ancient pump is simple and part of the fun is modifying it yourself.

We would encourage you to read through the whole process before doing anything because each of the different parts rely on the others heavily.


Can you put in a video of it working?

wilgubeast1 year ago

That's an interesting project (and a great class assignment.) I'd love to see a version that uses an adapted bicycle gear set to cut down on cost and be a bit more accessible for the parched hobbyist on a budget. Expensive or custom acrylic gears are out of range for most folks with a water need mild enough to try a pump like this.