Development of a low-cost, portable and solar-powered pump for agricultural irrigation for improving income, food and energy security in developing countries

The purpose of this research is to design an independent irrigation system that will adhere to the agricultural needs and financial constraints for small-scale farms in remote rural areas of developing nations. Solar powered technologies will be investigated and a concept will be designed using computer-aided modelling tools. Research is also required into the manufacturing process to ensure use of local resources, reducing the cost as well as carbon footprint of the technology.

A solar concentrator working in conjunction with a Sterling pump is being investigated to meet the goals of the research. The solar concentrator reflects sunlight to a point/surface, thus heating the surface. The Sterling pump is connected to this heat source on one side and a cold source on the other side. The difference in temperature causes variance in pressure which can be used to generate suction and thus work as a pump.

Research Methodology:

  • Pumping system design: farm size, irrigation requirement, pumping head
  • Design of solar concentrator: investigate concentrator systems, ray tracing model, solar thermal analysis
  • Design of Sterling pump: investigate Stirling pumping systems, computational fluid dynamics
  • Manufacture analysis
  • Cost analysis
  • Experimentation

 

Supervisor

Dr Ben Hughes

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Co-Supervisors

Dr Russell Goodall

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Dr Andy Bell

University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre