Poor farmers from around the world need affordable ways to pump underground water to irrigate their crops, so they can feed their families and earn income. To respond to this challenge, we present a low-cost and low-maintenance steam pump powered by solar heat.
Since the 17th century, many research labs condensed steam into water to create a partial vacuum and also as a way to extract underground water to assist in mining. The great amount of fuel spent in generating steam and consequently a partial vacuum made the system highly inefficient. For that reason, many projects that used this approach did not reach completion, while others were discontinued.
Recently, new technologies and products have been developed to harvest the sun's unlimited energy. One example of these technologies is the solar collector, which consists of a parabola-shaped mirror with a base at the focal point. The mirror collects captured solar radiation and aims it to a single point capable of reaching temperatures exceeding ~500 F, having the potential to convert water into steam.
The proposed solar pump system is unique in that it unites both mentioned technologies. The sun's radiation will be used to generate steam, subsequently the steam will be injected into an isolated chamber and condensed, creating a partial vacuum. The partial vacuum will then pull up water from the ground, without using a single drop of combustion fuel or electricity.
This solar pumping system along with low-cost drip irrigation can drastically reduce irrigation costs for farmers. After the initial expense there are few ongoing costs because the sun is a reliable and constant source of energy.