Introduction: Pulser Pump Model. a Substitute for Lots of Fossil Fuel?

Picture of Pulser Pump Model. a Substitute for Lots of Fossil Fuel? Pulser_pump is being used by students from Queens University in Toronto for a project on the pulser pump. It will be completed on 1st May 2010 Their initial results support most of what I have reported. They have included pdf files from various other research projects too. Worth a look.
Brian (18th April 2010)
Every second thousands and thousands of gallons of low grade water power runs to waste (low grade is water falling less than 2 meters). some of this water power was used for a thousand years to grind grain or pump for irrigation and other uses too. With cheap fossil fuels as a substitute, it is no longer economical to use this power. (interest on machinery and construction costs is greater than the price of the electricity produced per year).
Pulser pumps are a significantly cheaper and low tech way of using low grade water power so some of this power can be used competitively again!
This is a pulser pump instructable. You can find pulser pump info on utube and in a yahoo group.
Pulser pumps are so mind bogglingly simple that I am the only person who has ever put pulser pump info online.
No peer review= no credibility.
Please check and make a model or make a full scale pump.
YOU can make the differerence!

Step 1: Online Checking

You will find info in the yahoo group pulserpump and in utube and the internet glossary of pumps. Pulser pumps have been on the internet for 7 years.
I do not know of anybody who has made one even though the info is freely available. I do not know the parameters because I only made about 4 pumps on a tiny seasonal stream. 0.5 meters head and 500 liters per minute max flow.
Pulser pumps might work better with larger head and flow. This is likely.
But if nobody ever trys, nobody will ever know!
Making a model and putting it online is the first step to acceptence.
Will you do it?

Step 2: Procedeure and Materials

Picture of Procedeure and Materials

This is materials list and procedeure to make a model
Materials list for the pulser pump model

These are the exact list that I used for a previous model.
You can substitute your own local equivalent as necessary
Measurements are in feet (') and inches(")
(I can put in the metric equivalent if needed.
An 8 ft long piece of 2"by 4" timber
A 22 inch long piece of 2"by 4" timber
A 30 inch long piece of 2"by 4" timber
A 35 in long piece of 3/4" internal diameter (1 inch external diameter) clear vinyl pipe A 79 in long piece of 3/4" internal diameter (1 inch external diameter) clear vinyl pipe
A 58 in long piece of 3/8" internal diameter clear vinyl pipe
22 3 and a half inch screws (screwed side by side, these hold the pipes in place against the wood)
A 1 and a half inch screw (holds the top cranberry juice container in place.
About 7 3 and a half inch nails to nail the 2 by 4 planks together.
Orville redenbackers hot air popping corn container (850g) 7 inches long
Ocean spray cranberry juice container (1 liter)
Drill, 3.5 mm drill bit (for pilot holes for screws and nails)
1 inch forstner drill bit. (This did a good job cutting the holes in the plastic bottles and lids.
Nail the 22 inch 2 by 4 to the 8ft 2 by 4 starting 10 inches from the bottom
Leave a 7 1/2 inch gap and nail the 30 inch 2 by 4 above that.
Carefully cut a 1 inch hole in the bottom of the Orville redenbackers hot air popping corn container using the forstner drill bit and using a piece of wooden handle in the container so it does'nt.t collapse.
Fit the shorter piece of 1 inch pipe into it and push it through about 1 inch.
Cut, drill or burn a hole (slightly smaller than the external diameter of the 3/8 inch pipe) in the bottom of the Orville redenbackers hot air popping corn container.
Use the forstner bit to cut 1 inch holes in the lids of both containers.
Cut 2 1 inch holes in the side of the cranberry juice container (at 90 degrees to each other). near the bottom.
Join the pipes into the containers as shown in the diagram. Use the short screw through one of the holes to secure the cranberry juice container to the 2 by 4 behind it.
Use the 3 1/2 inch screws (or nails) (BESIDE not through the pipes!) to secure the pipes against the wood
Secure your model vertically against a wall, put a garden hose in, turn on and adjust the water flow and your model should work!
NOTES You can use 2 Orville redenbackers hot air popping corn containers (and no cranberry container) if you like. I had only one.
You can substitute a 58 inch length of 6 mm tube for the 3/8 inch tube if you like.
I did not have any and 6 mm probably works a little better.
Happy modeling

Step 3: Another Model If You Want to Try This Way!

Picture of Another Model If You Want to Try This Way!

Here is another model, This one is of a split process pulser pump.
Split process is seperate trompe and airlift pumps.
I found split process to be more efficient in my prototype. (the one that is shown on utube).
this model used acrylic for the chambers.
I found the other model more easy to make but depends on your skills


goatboy825 (author)2014-02-18

So, still no current actual (not lab model) applications save the animation?

I made several pulser pumps (real actual pumps) and they are on youtube. Mat made the "cornish pulser pump" and it is on youtube. There is a demo from Indonesia on youtube. The next idea people (Austria) have one of my videos on the net too. Windowfarms uses the exact same airlift principle that I first demonstrated around 2001 and our windowfarms (their open source user group) has 40,000 members. It can pump water and make low pressure air. I have used low pressure air to run my pallet gardens and various aquaponics and hydroponics proof of concepts for several years. I don't have a river or stream anymore so I cannot develop it further. People here in Victoria have been extremely negative about even lending a stream to me for a few hours to do a proof of concept of the pulser pump nano. (The low pressure mini version that a 10 year old could make). So I have done my best. People like you clearly do not want the thing. It is a shame because the nano could help a lot of people who have no power what so ever.

No, I really like the concept....I was just looking for examples beyond the Cornish and Indonesian examples, to see if my application can be adapted to as-built installations.

My design concern is that I don't have any fall as my slack ditch goes to pipe at my property line.

I am sorry Goatboy825, power comes from fall multiplied by flow. If you have no fall, you have no power. I think the minimum fall you need to do a useful amount of work is half a meter. (about 20 inches). I have made mini versions that work down to 8 inches of head, 20 cm, but really, time is better spent at other things. The amount of energy in 8 inches of falling water is very small. brian

I appreciate the feed back. Thats what I was thinking, but wasn't sure. I will keep working on my spiral pump.

The Pulser pump is a great concept. Keep promoting it. I know I will.

Hi, (and thanks for the nice words). Another thing that might work is gravitational vortex. Your site is probably at the edge of its range but it might work. It is pretty simple, all you need is a top or bottom half or third of a rainbarrel as a dam in your drain, you can cut the side of the rain barrel so water enters at one side. And have a 3 or 4 inch hole in the bottom of it. you for water to exit. Stick a vertical shaft in it and try maybe a peristaltic pump to take off the power to pump water. (but there is other options too). The gravitational vortex is neat because if you are not using the power, it stores it up in the vortex, (the whirlpool gets higher) until it does twist your turbine. Another neat thing about the vortex is that you can make a rubbishy turbine and it will still probably work. I did a demo of how the vortex behaves at

gfwhell (author)2011-02-02

Many years ago I became enthused with the Humphry pumps at Chingford and the Trompe up in northern Michigan which once supplied 1,000,000 cu,ft @100psi compressed air to a copper mine.
I had no "Stream " on my property but it was sitting on a 15 ft layer of clay, below which was a 20 ft thick gravel bed which stretched for miles in all directions, below this was blue clay and gault to a depth of 260 ft laying on the greate chalk aquifier of London, which outcrops at the channel at Dover. It was my ambition to drill a hole from the surface into this chalk Aquifier and dump ground water from the gravel bed into it. I anticipated capturing the energy of a falling body of water and at the same time replenish the falling chalk water table which had been pillaged over the years, the bonus would be 40 cu.ft of compressed air @100 psi. delivered back to the well head, This would be used to run a 6 KW motor generator.
One of the problems in the design of my "power well" was the separation and reclamation of bubbles at the exit point at the bottom of the well. with the use of
fixed blades to induce the water to spin, to generate the centrifugal force required to separate the water from the air which would be conducted back to the surface through 3/4" pipe. There were other issues with the Thames River Authority, some of which included my provisions for preventing contamination
of the chalk aquifier with surface water. even though the nearest well to my property was 2 miles distant, I explained my system, which utilised live fish as
the main guardians of pollution control. but they would not hear of it.
Now of course I live in the USA where my well is barely 70 ft from my neighbors
Septic Tank, Oh such freedom.


gaiatechnician (author)gfwhell2011-02-02

Lucky you! The world is a really strange place. In Texas the oil companies just got a gentle pat on the wrist for injecting diesel into shale to frack (fracture) it.
I have a strange problem. Wikipedia will not enter the pump because it is a novel experimental device (Even though mine ran since 1988). And even after I noted that the trompe is there and the airlift pump is there and it is not rocket science to combine the 2, they would not budge.
People in authority can be. ( 2 words begins with as)
It would be really useful for people in poor countries if it was on wikipedia.
Hardly anybody knows that you can join pipes together in this way and use it to pump water. No need for diesel or motors or engines or electricity.
Just pipes!
A guy wrote to me a while ago saying that he has heard of tromps to pump water before. (probably deep high pressure ones but I don't care).
Anyway he looked for the reference but could not find it.
Perhaps you know of a reference to a trompe driving an airlift pump?
It has to be in a book or wikipedia will remove it.

The first reference to such a scheme I saw was about 30 years ago in a book in the Yale engineering library. Joseph Priestley was said to have built a trompe driving an airlift for irrigation of the top of a plateau with intermittent rainfall but an impermeable layer partway up that caused springs to come out of the cliff. He just directed the flow down a pipe to make the compressor and used the compressed air to raise a smaller fraction of the water back to the top of the plateau.
I have a river in my backyard featuring a 15 foot dam and a millpond 1/4 mile long.
The dam usually looks like it has over 100 hp going over it. I think I need to build a trompe and try to get off the grid.
I have some air dispersal tubing if anyone wants to try a piece.

Hi, priestlyfan, do you have a date for that? There is a horrible little page on wikipedia about the airlift pump that says it was invented in Germany in 1797. Horrible page because it is there as a gateway to the patented "geyser pump" (which is not supposed to be the wikipedia way).
Anyway, if Priestly died in feb 1804 it is possible he was using an airlift pump before it was "invented" . Anyone here with access to the Yale engineering library? or with more details on Priestly's life?
Lets pin down the timing of Priestly's trompe airlift pump combination!
Brian White.

itsandbits1 (author)2011-05-23

not to be insulting but the gaiatechnician has said over and over again in the preceding posts what has been/or not in the advancement of this pump and your handle does not give you credit for the question. It will work anywhere the conditions are right, and they are not very ridgid, just some differing water levels

Mr. Rig It (author)2007-09-10

I see you have put your diagrams on the page but I still don't get how it works or why. Also at what point do you use it for alternative power? Can you go in to further explanation and also post the video here in your instructable. I would definitely like to see more and have a better understanding of what you are saying. However, I like many others might not go to Utube or Yahoo to search for it because, well I am lazy and I would rather see it on this web site than go searching for it. I am interested though can you post more info? I hope I did not come across rude, I did not intend to. Thank you.

is the video. It is used to pump water for sheep cattle and a garden back where i grew up in ireland.
I have also used it to make a little geyser, to power a device that removed silt from sand so I could use it for masonry and to blow air through a metal pipe that went down the chimney captured heat from the flue and heated a living room. (that actually worked really well except that the air was stinky from the stream).

This is a brilliant idea! I was researching ram pumps, and trying to figure out how to make the oscillator, when I ran across your pulser pump. I really like the "no moving parts" thing! I don't really care about relative efficiencies, I figure that anything that runs 24 hours a day on stream power will be more than enough to water a few cattle.

I live in New Hampshire, where we get pretty cold winters. In your experience, does this thing freeze up during the winter? Or will constant flow keep it clear?

Does the water inlet need to be even with the surface of the water (more or less) so that it sucks in air? Have you considered a float and flexible tube to the chamber below, or does the inlet pipe have to be a straight vertical drop?

How big should the chamber be? Where is the lower end of the lift tube in relation to the bottom of the inlet pipe? Should it be above or below the water level in the chamber? Does the lift tube have to be smaller than the inlet pipe? Is there an efficient or maximum ratio of the two?

Have you figured out equations for rate of flow based on head, pipe size, or chamber size? Any idea why it pulses instead of just being a constant flow? I noticed somewhere you mentioned that pulsing slows or speeds up depending on the amount of air being sucked in. If there's no air, does it just pump water at a constant rate, or does it just stop?

I'm anxious to try this out! Thanks for your advocacy about this great idea, and any help you can give me. is the video my brother took last spring. (A 20 year old pump)
And is my attempt at explaination on utube.
is the explaination on the internet glossary of pumps.

Very cool. Thank you for the links.

maker12 (author)Mr. Rig It2008-05-06

is this a grey water "kidney" filter thing?

gaiatechnician (author)2011-04-05

A friend suggested a "pulser pump Nano" a tiny version with a tiny trompe going only 3 or 4 ft deep.
I don't have a stream any more but I tested low pressure airlift with just 22 inches of air pressure. (The pressure needed to pump air 22 inches deep in water).
This pumped water 13 ft high. I could have gone higher too if I had more pipes!
This means the pulser pump nano might be a success.

estqwerty (author)2011-03-18

tell more about trombe pump.

is it on wikipedia --->

gaiatechnician (author)estqwerty2011-03-19
I actually started the entry and some of the people at wikipedia found the references. (They were going to get rid of it because I didn't have any references but I pleaded).
I didn't have access to good engineering libraries.
I have some info on the pulser pump group at yahoo groups and at my site about the pulser pump.
I did a talk a while ago and some new information is available now.
Tromps started in Italy about 400 years ago (I don't have dates) and traveled very quickly to Spain and from there to the USA.
There is information coming out of Barcelona right now. They have some group going to revive interest in tromps and researching using them in 3rd world countries. I suggested that before I even knew what a tromp was!
A link for Spanish work is

NobodyInParticular (author)2009-04-08

The intake tubes for the trompe part of your pump are drawn as having plain circular ends, but I think they might be better at getting more air down the tube if you had some Venturi effect inspirator nozzles.

This simple trompe is just using angled air-intake tubes for the purpose. And two of these big intake heads for a Taylor air compressor each contain 72 intake pipes to channel more air bubbles into the downward stream.

Thank you for your research and suggestions. I have not done anything with the pump in about 8 years. I live in a city now with no stream to play with.
You do not need the venturi effect.
With a low pressure trompe like the one I built, there is no problem getting enough air in and too much air actually slows the waterflow going down to the bottom air chamber. (it does not stall but it surges and slows with a 5 or 10 second cycle).
I made a cap for it so that I could control air and water flow. (And turn the water flow off) .
When you restrict the airflow, (just a little) it actually goes a little faster! because now more water is flowing and the surging and slowing does not happen.
I actually made the cap for when the stream was really low. Sometimes the stream went at only 100 liters per minute (too slow to work the pump). The cap acted as a bell over the pipe and when water finally flowed into the pipe, it started the siphon effect and ran until water lowered a bit behind the dam.


I'm just guessing here, as I do not have a stream to play with either, but it seems you could overcome the problem with water level at the intake by having two intake pipes, one well below the surface for water and one well above the surface for air. The air pipe could then slant into the water pipe (perhaps with a narrow nozzle?) at the bottom of the stream.

As for too much air, I can think of a couple things that might help. For one, you might need to lower the bottom end of the output tube to compensate for the larger space of air in the chamber.

But the main problem (if I'm imagining this right) is not that the excess air in the intake tube is not leaving enough room for the water, but that it is interrupting the flow. I think that if the bubbles were kept tiny you could suspend quite a lot in the downward stream. Though I am not one of them, I know that people in many different fields are extremely interested in how to finely disperse gases into liquids without clogging up the pipes.

Poke around a bit on the Net and I bet you will find some good intake valve designs. You might start by emailing the people who put up the blog on Mr. Taylor and ask them for some more pictures. A design that has been running continuously for almost a century with just a few maintenance shutdowns has got to be doing something right.

Thank you very much for your info about Mr. Taylor etc. But you misunderstand. My intake valve is perfectly fine. There is no "problem" If you really want to understand low pressure trompes, you can do no better than to make a model. Then try running the model with various speeds of water through it and you will see what i mean. People are not going to be allowed to produce high pressure trompes. High pressure trompes increases the desolved nitrogen in the exit water and fish can die of the bends. (Thats not a joke by the way) You cannot get 80% efficiency with a half meter head with a trompe. People get obsessed with "efficiency". All that counts is that the thing is cheap to make and to maintain and dilivers what you want. The one I made in ireland is over 20 years old now. I made it with scrap plastic cans and drainage pipes. It still works. It never needed any replacement parts.

JIM5349 (author)2008-12-14

this device was used in England ? (if I'm not mistaken) for supplying air to the mines

gaiatechnician (author)JIM53492008-12-17

Something similar was probably used. But I think they were big and high pressure. For some reason science and engineering continues to ignore small head high volume power sources even though they could be utilized by something like the pulser pump to pump water, or low pressure air. They have identified these sources as the last untapped water power sources but refuse to use them unless the power can be converted to electiricity. It is a huge mental block because the additional expense of converting to electricity and taking it to the user far away then makes it uneconomical. Why not use the power close to home without converting to electricity?

The need to use the power close to home is exactly why hydroelectric power stations exist. You don't have to use the power close to the water.

Before the early 1900s, many kinds of factories and mills were situated beside flowing water to get their energy. With electrical power, it became possible to free up land along riverbanks for other uses.

While some energy is lost during conversion to electricity, hydroelectric power generation can be extremely efficient- up to 90% of the energy is captured. Even single-household generators can have 50% efficiency.

Hydraulic ram pumps do have their uses. When the land and water source are conveniently shaped, and your goal is simply to move water, a water-powered pump makes sense.

With low head sites hydroelectric power cannot be 90% efficient. Also, the lower the head, the larger the ratio of machinery cost (capital cost) to the price of the electricity produced. That is the reason that, right now, thousands of old mill sites are unused for anything. the power is just going to waste. The high capital and maintance costs prohibit using it for electricity production Trompes are just pipes buried in the ground. There is no reason not to use them to supply air directly for the activated sludge process in sewage treatment and to power water effects in parks beside rivers. The chain is river power, pressurised air, air bubbles up in the aeration pond. Now look at the hydroelectric chain for the same process. Big hydroelectric station 90% efficeint but! (50 miles away) then powerlines, (with losses), a motor (with losses) and an airpump (with losses). You multiply the efficiency, 90% by (guess 95%) for the power line losses of 5% by 75% for the motor efficiency by 70% for the air compressor efficiency. All guesses, but your 90% is now 45%! And you have a share of the capital cost of the power station, and the full cost of the air compressor and the motor to pay off. My pump when used as a tromp to compress air was about 30% efficient. That was with half meter head. How efficient would it be with 1 meter head or 1.5 meter head? I do not know! Research that I saw from England suggests 50% or 60%. Compare 50 or 60 to 45 and it does not seem too bad.

By the way, GT, please don't yell at me for mentioning hydraulic ram pumps. I know your tromp-powered airlift isn't quite the same thing.

NobodyInParticular (author)2009-04-07

Here is a hydraulic ram pump on Instructables- not just a model, but actually doing some useful work.

I made a pulser pump (not just a model) in Ireland over 20 years ago and it does useful work. It pumps water for cattle, sheep, and fills a farm sprayer without having to use the tractor power to do it. Will the hydraulic ram be working 20 years later? I do not see why people have to do the "my pump is better than your pump" thing. They are different and there is a place for BOTH types of pumps. The reason for asking for a model is because nobody but me has put this simple pump on the internet. And nobody believes if there is only one person telling the story. How will your hydraulic ram handle 1m3 per second of water falling a half meter? And how much will it cost? And how big will it be?

Sorry. I did not say anything about better, nor was I denigrating the work done by your pump. I was just pointing out that Instructables has this other project in a similar vein (a hydro-powered water pump) in case someone did not think to do a search. If I had seen another Instructables for a hydro-powered water pump, I would have included that too.

I wouldn't say that nobody else has put a pump like yours on the Internet. Isn't the blowoff geyser from the Ragged Chute Compressed Air Plant the same thing, if you ignore the compressed air outlet? (Here's a diagram with dimensions.)

hcold (author)2008-10-11

"u have no idea how they have been trained to hate Americans" Seems you're returning the favour. Remember, the age old adage of being dragged down to the same level?

kadris3 (author)hcold2008-10-11

you are mistaken. i do not hate anyone, not even them. as i said "You have no idea" and that is a fact. their actions, ways, beliefs, customs, laws, mores, and virtually everything about them is as far removed from the democratic process as you can get. i'm not sure of your age but you may be a bit younger and able to accept anything. previous generations have learned that there are some things for which we should fight. i mean no disrespect to you or your beliefs. i wish you well and thank you for commenting. i did not mean to imply i hated anyone. if i did i would be in the category as those whose actions i dislike; and, like you say i am dragged down to their level.

hcold (author)kadris32008-10-12

I mean no disrespect to you either, but claiming something for the United States s "undemocratic" seems to be the default cause for war. It's not really worth having a democracy if you barely have a country anymore. And yes, I do believe there are somethings worth fighting for, democracy when you live in a peaceful fine country isn't one of them. If people want a democracy, they will make the choice themselves, seeing Thailand right now. I'm sixteen if that is of any matter, when it really shouldn't be. I have family that died in Vietnam, my brother in law is in Afghanistan at the moment, my grand fathers, and one grand mother were all in the military during World War II. I have a great grand father that fought in the Boer war, and then went to the slaughter fields at Gallipoli.

kadris3 (author)hcold2008-10-12

by your intelligence and reasoning, i would have thought you were more like 35 or 40. congrats. i must agree with your logic and thought processes. i can find no fault there at all. being a non-democracy does not nor should it mean an automatic cause for war. they need to do something more like "shoot at us first". wars have been thought over the dumbest things. i hope we can prevent as many as possible. i also was from a military family(both sides), and trained as a pilot during Vietnam era. my father was all over the pacific and my grandfather was in pearl harbor. he had a heart attack and was taken from the ship to the hospital on the mainland. otherwise he would have gone down with the ship. two of my uncles trained pilots for ww2, one was a UDT, and one aunt was a nurse and one in the waves. small world isn't it??? best of luck to you and your studies.

hcold (author)kadris32008-10-12

"i would have thought you were more like 35 or 40" I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing? :P But yeah, mostly what I'm trying to say is that cultures are different, rather than inferior to others or your own. :)

kadris3 (author)hcold2008-10-12

i am saying your powers of reason greatly exceed your age. cultures are definitely different. i do believe that those that advocate murdering non similar religions are distinctly inferior. we are way off topic. the giant vacuum may sweep us up. X

AnarchistAsian (author)2008-09-16

woah... i'm a collaborator on this one too...

TimCo1980 (author)2007-09-11

I found this while scouring the web. It's not exactly the same but I think the theory is the same...well, close enough.

I think I might try know, just for fun.

gaiatechnician (author)TimCo19802007-09-11

The theory behind ram pumps is quite different actually and they are well known so you will be passing over well walked ground. The first key differences for reviving old low grade energy sites is that a ram pump pumps water and thats it. Pulser pumps do other stuff too. The second one is that pulser pumps can use large quantitys of low grade water power. Ram pumps would have to be impossibly large to do this. And the 3rd difference is water hammer. Ram pumps have it, pulser pumps do not.

Can you provide any examples of this being used in coastal areas where tide provides the necessary head?

About This Instructable




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