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Airlift pump - air powered water pump

by gswatts, published

Airlift pump - air powered water pump by gswatts Oct 25, 2014
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Trying this in my aquaponics greenhouse. You may want to try this to water hard-to-reach plants. The short pipe end is the air from an aquarium aerator. The long pipe end is the outlet for water. Scale it to fit your tubing in the two pipe ends, I'm using 1/4" aquarium hose. I'm amazed how little air is needed to transfer water from the bottom of a barrel, buried in the floor, to the ceiling 8 feet from the floor. That's about a 12 foot lift !

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So, I want to use one of these to aid as a small water pump for a external filter on a tiny aquarium. I am using a solar 2.5 psi air pump it almost seems that this will allow the water to be aerated wile using that energy to pump the water for the filter system I built. Its worth a try, I do not have the ability to run a powered pump here.

As I was looking at the layering of the print, I noticed that the print layers seem to kinda start from nowhere when forming the "top half" of the pump. When you print these, have you had any problems with that?

No problems on my DaVinci 2. I do think I can do better, now that I have learned more with Blender. Just gotta find the time.

I found a way to make little airlift pumps like this more efficient. About a foot or so out of the water, put a tiny vertical loop in the tubing. Any droplets which give up halfway, collect in the loop instead of falling back into the source. When the loop fills up, the water gets forced upwards as one mass.

I finally realized that having such a dip or loop, was the difference between my arrangements which worked and my arrangements which didn't...

Great ! I think I'll do that, and I may update with a video. Thanks for working with it.

Just added a more true to scale for 1/4 inch tubing...

re: Corona688
Thanks so much for the upgrade. I relied on the sump always having a minimum depth, but this is a more reliable add-on.

You're welcome. Thank you for the idea. Air-lift is a much better idea than the silly complicated gear-pumps I was messing with.

I was rolling my own starting with your idea, and it worked just like you showed, and also kept stalling all the time, like you warned could happen. I hunted for a working example and it turns out there's an important piece missing:


The U is a pressure reservoir -- it takes force and time for air to push the "wrong" way, making it effectively one-way unless it's overloaded. Once I added the "U" it became a LOT more resistant to stalling. You can see air push down into the U sometimes, then change its mind and rise the proper way when enough pressure gathers to "uncork" the upwards pipe.

The "U" needs to be large enough. About half a foot of tubing works for me.

I added a FLV video file showing the operation. It is in the Thing Files section. I plan on putting several of these in the sump well to water various areas.