The Flex Pump - An Innovation in Solar Water Pumping

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2011-00335
Agency Tracking Number: 2011-00335
Amount: $89,500.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2011
Solicitation Topic Code: 8.4
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
184 HILL RD, Temple, NH, 03084-0048
DUNS: 168976285
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Robert Wills
 (603) 801-4749
Business Contact
 Robert Wills
Title: President
Phone: (603) 801-4749
Research Institution
There is a great need for low-cost, efficient, reliable solar water pumping systems for agriculture. Especially for small farm applications, solar water pumping is a potential solution for crop irrigation and livestock watering where it reduces labor and allows the use of otherwise unusable land. Our Phase I objective is to create a working pump prototype that is as close as possible to a final marketable device. Solar water pumping is an area that has received little research attention over the last 20 years. The availability of products in the range applicable to small farms (100 to 1000 gallons per day) is very limited. We are developing an innovative new form of solar pump (the Flex Pump) that is simple, reliable, corrosion-proof, low in cost, and easy to maintain and repair. It can be used both as a surface pump and in submersible applications. We expect that this pump will reduce the cost of small solar water pumping systems (which cost now $500 to $2500) by more than 50%. The price of solar (photovoltaic) modules has plummeted over the last few years. Pump technology needs to undergo similar price reductions in order for new markets and applications to open up. Solar pumps have unusual requirements, in that their energy source (sunlight) is highly variable and often sparse. The best types of pumps for solar use are positive displacement pumps as they do not require full sunlight to operate. Water flow rate is proportional to sunlight intensity, which is often correlated with crop and livestock water needs. This research will lead to the commercialization of the Flex Pump, and hopefully widespread use in the USA and around the world. The initial applications are irrigation and stock watering for small farms, however other uses include landscape irrigation, greenhouse and hydroponic agriculture, residential gardening, as well as marine and other general pumping needs.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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