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Hydraulic Ram Pumps are very old technology that pump water using gravity and 2 valves to generate a repeating water hammer effect. The "hammer" pounds a little of the drive water into a pressure tank then up the delivery hose for your use. Why is it green? Because it's simple, reliable, pumps water without any engine, fuel or electricity or muscle power and can be made from mostly recycled materials.

The one I built has a few novelties that make it more reliable, cheaper and easier to operate than most of the plans you find on the Internet. It developed a steady 28psi pressure at the pump and delivered about 1,000 gallons per day where we wanted it.

last season, it hammered over 145,600 gallons of pond water up a steep hill to our garden over 700 feet away and over 100 feet higher than the pond! In the process, it saved us over 485 liters of diesel fuel we would have normally used to drive our diesel tractor to pump and tow the water around our farm.

The pump was built for about $50 worth of plumbing parts and a bunch of stuff that I had sitting in my scrap pile.

What's the secret? A strong gate valve - period.

Please have a look and enjoy the instructable and don't forget to rate it.


Please let me know if I can make it better or easier to follow somehow, and I will be happy to answer any questions that you have so post away!!

Paso 1: Get started!

Parts list.

You may want to print this picture to refer to later as an assembly guide.

Maybe I'm just clueless, I certainly don't have any experience or skills to suggest otherwise. But couldn't you use a certain amount of the generated flow to run a watermill generator, to provide constant power along with your water flow, and avoid any issues of lack of sunlight? As long as you have a constant supply of water to draw from, and if possible to retribute to the source, then couldnt you leave it running indefinitely?<br><br>You could provide your water for gardening, livestock, drinking, washing etc, generate power.... <br><br>If you could make a viable hydrogen fuel cell, you could be completely green and off grid theoretically..<br><br>Or is it not a viable system?<br>
<p>Hi Boraan, </p><p>If you feed a 2&quot; ram pump with a 4 meter vertical drop, you should have good luck driving it with a 20 L/m solar pump. Just hook the solar 1&quot; outflow directly into the ram pump 2 &quot; feed pipe. You can adjust the speed of the ram pump cycle to make sure you have enough drive water in the ram pump feed pipe. If it is adjusted to just barely spill over the top of the ram pump feed pipe, you will never have your ram pump stop due to lack of feed water. </p><p>Your trouble will be that the solar pump will stop feeding at night, then you will have to start the whole system again each morning. This design of ram pump is not self starting. To start it, you will require a long, light weight rod attached to the ram pump top valve so that you can push it down several times to prime the cycle. This will be annoying to you. You may be better off with a small self priming high lift gear pump attached to a simple water wheel driven by your solar pump outflow. Alternately, you can try to get a high lift low voltage pump that is directly driven by your solar cells and eliminate the double pump setup you are envisioning. </p><p>Or just get a low voltage compressor driven from your solar cells (or use an inverter to make high voltage) and run an airline down to a bubble pump. That way all your mechanism is above ground with no moving parts in the water or well. much easier to service everything. Ram pumps are easiest to operate and service when you can keep them at ground level and they have a continuous flow of feed water. </p><p>Or build a teeter totter with a piston pump on long rods over the well. Then the kids can play all day and pump water at the same time. </p>
Thank you for the suggestions,ElTigre. I plan to do as you say and hang the ram over the floating bilge pump. But do you think I should connect directly to the Ram or install a tank to feed the ram? The bilge output is inch. The waste water I want to run through an airlift pump allowing some of it to be pushed up by the air in the waste water.
Thank you for the suggestions,ElTigre. I plan to do as you say and hang the ram over the floating bilge pump. But do you think I should connect directly to the Ram or install a tank to feed the ram? The bilge output is inch. The waste water I want to run through an airlift pump allowing some of it to be pushed up by the air in the waste water.
<p>Hi Boraan, Actually I think you could use your low lift solar pump to feed a ram pump that would move water much higher. You could suspend the ram pump above the water line of the well and fill its feed pipe with the solar pump output. The ram pump exhaust would go right back into the well and the ram pump output could be delivered to a much higher level than the solar by itself. You could fill barrels at the top of the well overnight or run a gravity feed system of pipes from the well to where the water is needed. You might be able to run 2 ram pumps from that much feed water. worth a try. Another maybe easier idea is to use your solar pump to turn a small water wheel that directly drives a piston or gear pump that will pump water above the ground level. You can also use the solar cells to make compressed air which in turn runs a bubble pump. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95LVVe7OpRM or use a windmill pump</p>
we are missionaries in Nicaragua. We want to install one of these water pumps on a small island. The island is surrounded by a huge lake. <br>The question that we have is; can install the pump underwater and use the water pressure to power the pump? <br>We need to go 100' up and 300' inland. <br>Has anyone done this? Do you have any plans for this? Can you help us? <br> <br>thanks <br> <br>Bobby
If part of the island is lower than the surface of the lake you might be able to make it work. These pumps need a head of water to operate. If you do not have the height of water it won't pump. All it takes is a small stream flowing from the island to the lake and you could make it work. Otherwise, you are better off with a wind or solar powered pump. If there is a steady current in the lake you could also try a sling pump.
I know zilch about pumps. But as a volunteer in Cambodia, I have been trying to learn. Poor farmers need water in the dry season. Where we are there are no streams to work with. But I have installes solar driven 12V bilge pumps to deliver water up 5 Meters with a flow of 20 liters/minute. Can this be used to drive a ram pump ina 30 Meter dug well? If it can many people will benefit from the water. Any thoughts?
Place the pump in the bottom of the water, deepest accessible part. Get a ring float and tie the feeder pipe (with an inlet filter) just enough below the float to keep it submerged at all times. let the vertical pressure of the feeder pipe run the pump. Incidentally, you will probably need a relief/exhaust pipe as well. Use a larger diameter feeder pipe than the relief pipe so that the pump can generate pressure. <br> <br>Also, FYI, I have seen these as closed loops, which do not emit water at the pump but capture both sides of the pressure to enhance the pump capabilities. I don't remember where I saw it but some googling should get you going in the right direction. Same premiss however, floating feeder pipe.
You could use high pressure pvc. My experiments with plastic did not go well because the constant pressure surges caused the abs fittings to burst after a few weeks. maybe if you are using a small diameter pipe like under 2&quot; it will work for you. There are many designs on the web that show plastic pump bodies. I never had a problem with bursting after I built the pump body out of steel fittings. <br> <br> You can definitely run the outflow back to the pond surface for agitation purposes. If the outflow is directed through a smaller diameter nozzle, it will spray quite far. I got at least 20 feet out of a 0.25&quot; nozzle. You may get even farther out of a smaller diameter nozzle.
hello, i have a question about the feeding pipe. <br>the 2'' is a constant, or depends of the ... debit of water ? <br>like if i have a like slow river, is ok to use 2'' pipe ?
You can use whatever feeding pipe you like, as long as you have enough water flow to keep it full. I used a 2&quot; pipe because my pump body was 2&quot; so it was easy to connect them together. If you have too little feed water flow or too small a feeding pipe, the pump will cycle very slowly or not at all. The pump may also cycle very quickly but not build up any outflow pressure.
so, as long the river (water) level is above the feeding pipe (and i keep the 5:1 ratio), is ok ? pipe will always be full of water.
Yes, as long as you can keep a full feed pipe you should be fine. If any air gets into the feed pipe it may stop your pump. You may like a 5.5:1 length to height ratio better. My pump works ok with 5:1 but all the Info I have seen says 5.5:1 is optimum.
so, as long the river (water) level is above the feeding pipe (and i keep the 5:1 ratio), is ok ? pipe will always be full of water.
One question... with the pressure that the hammer builds up, how far upstream can you pump the water, using a regular garden hose? How far above the level of the original pond f.x.?
this pump has about 700 feet of 3/4 inch flexible plastic pvc water pipe attached to it and the delivery point is about 110 feet above the pump. <br><br>Garden hose is about the same diameter but more flexible so it may not deliver as much as the flexible walls will absorb some pressure. the shorter the delivery hose, the more water you will have at the end of the hose. The larger the diameter of the delivery hose, the less it will pump because it will have to push a large weight of water through the hose. There is a happy medium so you may have to experiment. You may want to use more rigid hose, like water line pvc, even up to 1 inch diameter and put a garden hose connector on the end of it where you want to use the water. that worked for me when I added another 50 feet of hose on the end of my delivery pipe to drip water the garden. A soaker hose at the end worked well to drip water onto the garden for hours.
I think you should get the instructable of the year award! the way you presented this is humorous, intelligent and witty and I can't wait to try to make one! Thank you so much!
For those who wants to know more about this type of pump : http://www.walton.fr/hydraulic-ram.html <br>They are well known in France, they have been invented by Mr de Montgolfier (who also invented the hot air balloon by the way) so you may test your french at : <br>http://www.histoire-eau-hyeres.fr/610-q_et_r-belier-pg.html <br> <br>another link http://energies-nouvelles-entreprises.pagesperso-orange.fr/ch12-71.htm <br> <br>Once the company was for sale, I don't know if still on sale ? There is a enormous potential but need communication efforts
it was invented by the one muslim scholar, don't forget origion of EU culture/renesanse and enginering are copy of muslims culture, science and engeniring. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vtgkcz87XbA
can some one make and dscribe in detail this <br>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKhXmPqm7og
You could use high pressure pvc. My experiments with plastic did not go well because the constant pressure surges caused the abs fittings to burst after a few weeks. maybe if you are using a small diameter pipe like under 2&quot; it will work for you. There are many designs on the web that show plastic pump bodies. I never had a problem with bursting after I built the pump body out of steel fittings. <br> <br> You can definitely run the outflow back to the pond surface for agitation purposes. If the outflow is directed through a smaller diameter nozzle, it will spray quite far. I got at least 20 feet out of a 0.25&quot; nozzle. You may get even farther out of a smaller diameter nozzle.
Could I also use pvc in stead of steel and also use it back to the pond using an Ariel sprinkler to agitate the pond itself ?
I have a large 4&quot; ramp pump (~50 GPM) based on a swing check valve instead of modifying foot valves that works awesome as I have welded the proper weight to the back of the valve and it is very reliable. My problem is that the outlet spring check valve is only good for about 30 days of operation before the spring gets fatigued and breaks. Your design simply says &quot;check valve&quot; I'm assuming this is a spring check valve? Or does this some somehow work with a swing check valve?
Hi Neo, <br> <br>I am currently using a brass spring type check valve bought at a hardware store but there is no reason a more reliable type of check valve could not be used. <br> <br>Also, in my design it is important to orient the check valve upright and level so that gravity assists its operation and you reduce side pressure on the valve seat and stem to avoid premature wear. My check valve has operated reliably for over 3 years with no maintenance. You are pushing lots more gallons through at likely higher pressure than me so that may account for the fast failure. <br> <br>Maybe if you compress the valve spring and measure the tension in &quot;PSI&quot; then replace the spring with an equal weight of metal on the valve stem you might get away without a spring if you orient your valve to operate vertically, i.e. build a gravity powered spring. <br> <br> I also experimented with neodymium magnets held in repulsion to replace the spring on the gate valve with some success before I moved to a weight operated valve. You might try that on the check valve and then you would have a permanent spring setup. Also there are plenty of home made check valve designs on the net if you search around a bit. Anytime you can avoid use of springs in these pumps you will increase reliability.
I ordered another 4&quot; brass swing check valve (suckers aren't cheap but found one on ebay) to try and use as the outlet valve to eliminate any springs. I had the same thoughts you do, where you can orient the swing of the valve vertically so that gravity provides the &quot;spring&quot; tension. I figured I may need to weld additional weight to the back of the valve to add more tension. I'll try and remember to post back on how it goes, as this would really create a virtually maintenance free pump if it works. Thanks for the thoughts.
thaaaaaaaaaanks
I crunched the numbers and it comes out aproximantley at 1 gallon per minute how would you increase that?
You can fine tune the pump for optimal output by adjusting the cycle rate per minute, the closure speed of the check valve, etc. <br><br>You can use a physically bigger pump 3&quot; or 4&quot; or 6&quot; etc. <br><br>You can use multiple pumps if you have enough feed water capacity. <br><br>You can shorten the delivery pipe by running it high enough to transfer the flow to an open aquaduct that can ultimately deliver the water to its destination (reduce delivery pipe pressure)<br><br>1 gal/min seems trivial until you consider that these pumps run 24/7, in this case providing over 10,000 gal each week. Put another way, it will fill up your average size swimming pool every 2 weeks.
Sorry but can you describe this sentence more colorfall I just can't understand them :,,To run it, you need about 5' of feed water pipe for every 1' of fall below your pond or creek. I have 10' of fall and 50' of feed pipe supplying 3 gallons/min. (A little longer would be better say 5.5:1) &quot; Thanks in advance.
You must install a pipe to feed water from your pond down to your pump to make the pump operate. The length of this pipe should be about 5'6&quot; for every 1 foot of vertical height your pump sits below the pond surface. (1.68 meters length of feed water pipe for every 0.3 meters vertical height difference from pond surface to pump location.) e.g. if your pump is 10' below the pond surface you should have a feed pipe 55' long. If your pump is 5 feet below pond surface then the drive pipe is 27.5' long.<br><br> _________5.5&quot;________ pond surface elevation<br>I }<br>I } 1' <br>pump location<br><br>Your feed water pipe does not have to be straight. it can follow the contours of the ground from the pond down to the pump. The feed water pipe should be rigid like metal if possible. I used heavy wall ABS plastic because it was much cheaper than metal pipe and it seems to work ok but metal is reported by some to increase pump efficiency.
Thank you :)
Sorry but can you describe this sentence more colorfall I just can't understand them :,,To run it, you need about 5' of feed water pipe for every 1' of fall below your pond or creek. I have 10' of fall and 50' of feed pipe supplying 3 gallons/min. (A little longer would be better say 5.5:1) &quot; <br>Thanks in advance.
I will go back to the first discussion on using the exhaust water. <br>The discussion was interesting but it has gone to nowere . And why - because we have forgotten that the ramp pump is usung difference in water levels to pump water up the hill . Produsind energy is another story and tryung to use the exghaust energy un this case is absurd. Every gain can be accomplished <br>only by investing some time/labour and ingenuity and utilising the exaust water of ramp pump will NOT pay the effort. You have enought water to use its energy if you need energy. The ram pump is pumping. Generatirs are generating. And in is fulish to look for &quot;perpetum mobile&quot; arround the ramp pump. It is onli a pump. <br> <br>For all spelling axperts , english is not my mother tongue. <br>Regards perah123
Dynamite! I don't know where I've been the last 45 years, but I don't think I have ever come across a ram pump. If this thing pushes that much water you could tinker with it further and get it pushing a geared pelton wheel (or a flywheel of some kind)...get the thing making electricity for you at the same time.
I have certainly thought about that. The exhaust water has enough force to drive a small turbine for sure. The valve stem force is considerable as well, so attaching a magnet directly to the top of the valve stem and dropping a coil around it leading to a bridge rectifier should produce measureable amounts of power as well. (Might be enough to run a couple led lights for around my pond) My calculations show that it is delivering water at an equivalent electrical rate of about 17 watts of power. Not bad at all considering it's absolutely cost fee to operate!
Don't forget the Second Law of Thermodynamics- you can't get something for nothing. If you try to extract power from the exhaust, you'll increase the back pressure on the pump- and it will stop working. The work done in lifting the water has to come from somewhere, after all, and in this case it comes from the energy you gained in the water that fell and was not pumped back uphill. Try to extract energy from that water, and there's naught left to left the rest.
the pressure on the exhaust is not related to the water going uphill. now it may affect the frequency of the pump but replacing the weights with magnets and the coils he described can resolve the frequency issue.<br>Also using the exhaust water do drive a wheel wont change anything on the pump side if you don't create any back pressure.
Don't forget the Second Law of Thermodynamics??? what does heat have to do with a water pump? Ill give you the dynamic (movement) but thermo??(heat) it is for use in heat powered machines only.. with a few rare .. well if rambled on. sorry ( i sign up for an account to say this....
Temperature is relative dude. Thermodynamics rules apply at sub-zero just as much as they do on the sun's surface, theres just a bigger difference.
what would the point be in that, just attach a generator to the feed stream directly and bypass the pump all together, i believe that's the concept that hydro dams are based on... its funny, every engineer has probably tried to "make" a "over-unity" machine, aka, engine over 100% efficiency
True enough, but in this case, there is plenty of energy left over in the exhaust. Since we have increased the velocity of the exhaust water by forcing the weight of a 55' long 2" column of water through 2 x 0.75" ports, we increase the pressure considerably. In fact, enough to throw the weight of the valve (about 1 lb. total) upwards against gravity at an accereration of about 1.5"/second. I agree you can not load it up to the point where it will stop the valve or slow it excessively, but there is still lots of power left over here to capture some secondary energy. One approach would be to reduce the weight of the valve ballast and substitute the weight of some neodymium magnets instead. Then install a coil around those magnets and the cyclical motion of the valve will generate electrical power when it operates, with no loss of water pumping power. What do you think? Want to help me design the system??
Thermodynamics still applies ;-) If you turn the valve into a generator, you're taking energy away from the pump. You can't take energy out without getting it from somewhere.
Agreed, but I think the energy we want to capture is waste energy. <br/><br/>e.g.. you get free heat in your car in the winter from the waste heat generated by your engine. In the case of this pump, most of the available power is blown by the valve unused, So, if we installed a little Pelton wheel generator externally, the exhaust water might be used to drive it <em>after</em> it exits the valve body and therefore should not affect the efficiency of the water pumping operation. Like a jet engine afterburner, except we are already dumping our &quot;fuel&quot; , the exhaust pressure, so we don't have to add any more fuel to the equation. Maybe regenerative braking is a better example, or better yet... cogeneration, just like my geothermal heating system provides me with free hot water from the waste heat it tries to get rid of during it's operating cycle. <br/><br/>
Well, you're certainly welcome to experiment! But I think you'll find very little energy can be extracted from the exhaust. The car analogy only works because you're dealing with an inefficient system to begin with. But- surprise of surprises- turning on the heater in your car uses gas!
I beg to differ, I have tested fuel efficiencies of my truck in summer and winter and the heat that can come through without the dashboard fans is sufficient to heat the truck, no wasted gas. Interesting enough, it takes slightly MORE gas to operate the truck in summer due to having to dump the heat away from the engine. I get 18.53 MPG in winter and 17.26 MPG in summer with all else being equal. Simple thermodynamics. As for not being able to recover the waste energy, bull pucky! Have the exhaust water drain into a catch basis a couple feet away and the water will regain all the potential energy from flowing downhill. The longer the distance between the catch basin and your power generation, the greater this potential becomes.
You well well get better mileage in the winter, but it's not because you're running the heater. Better mileage in winter is usually due to increased volumetric efficiency from ingesting colder air. Removing more energy from the system does require more fuel- once again, no freebies. The Otto cycle is only about 35% efficient in turning fuel into energy, so there's a lot of waste heat to capture for a car heater of turbocharger. But since the thermostat keeps the temperature of the cooling system constant, drawing more energy burns more fuel. If you recapture energy from the exhaust water flowing downhill... you're just picking up the energy from the water flowing downhill. Again, keep in mind that extracting any dynamic energy from the stream of water exiting the pump will increase back pressure, and decrease the amount of work done at the other end. A hydraulic ram works by extracting energy from water that had dropped over a gradient by compressing air. The energy stored in that compressed air is then used to raise a fraction of the water to a higher level than it started from. The rest of the water is simply dumped. If you impede the flow of that water, less will exit from teh ram, and less will be admitted in at the otehr end.
Read again please, I am not running the fans, I am allowing the heat within the heater coil to dissipate in the enclosed space of the cab, no further energy required that is not present anyway. The heat energy is still there the only difference is whether the waste heat is discharged to atmosphere or into an enclosed space. Again, apples and oranges. Indeed one cannot tap the discharged energy directly from the output as it decreases the efficiency however, that is not what I stated. The question is whether further energy could be gleaned from the discharge rather than letting it just spill to the ground. I postulated how it could be done WITHOUT affecting the pump efficiency. As long as there is a continuation of the downgrade, electricity can be gained. The further the distance downhill from the pump, the more energy can be claimed. Electricity also has the advantage of not having appreciable mass so losses compared to head pressures of water are reduced. Finally, I am a robotics engineer by trade and have a very strong understanding of hydraulics and pneumatics due to the integral nature of these to power sources in automation. There is also a very strong impetus for efficiency in these systems in the industrial world, especially now.
I have a problem for you, the further you go down the hill to generate pressure for another energy converter the bigger the Z or R will be, thus problems with power transmission with lower values of voltage I would assume you will be producing. what will be the gain of using the exhaust water for power? There are much easier ways to get electron flow. I think what most of you are trying to achieve will never work as well as you think it will, there is always losses in everything, it would be nice if it were a perfect world and everything worked as well as calcs on paper that factor in no opposing forces. Keep dreaming, one day you might just come across something that "could" change the world, it's a pity you will want to make money out of it and become just as bad as the guys you are trying to battle against, got to love greed. Have fun! Jay
The fan draws power from the engine. As I noted, the otto cycle produces so much waste energy that it's not a valid comparison. <br/><br/>There's really no disagreement here. The hydraulic ram is running right on the edge, efficiency-wise. Any energy you draw *from the ram* will affect the functioning of the ram. If you let the water fall another foot or so, you're not using the energy of the exhaust- you're simply tapping the gravitation gradient between the ram and where you put your turbine, which I think is what you're saying. But that's not tapping into &quot;waste energy&quot; from the ram, which was someone's initial contention.<br/>

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Feb 20, 2009

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Bio: Inventing (and breaking stuff to see how it works) since before the turn of the century...

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