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Published on September 30th, 2005 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

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Harnessing Kids’ Energy to Pump Water

We all know that children usually have a lot of energy. Now, South African company Roundabout Outdoor has figured out a way to harness some of it: the Play-Pump. From the company’s web site:

The revolutionary pump design converts rotational movement to reciprocating linear movement by a driving mechanism consisting of only two working parts. This makes the pump highly effective, easy to operate and very economical.

The Play-Pump is capable of producing 1400 litres per hour at 16 rpm from a depth of 40m, and is effective up to a depth of 100m. A typical hand pump installation cannot compete with this delivery rate, even with substantial effort.

The Playpumps are specifically designed and patented roundabouts (1) that drive conventional borehole pumps (2), while entertaining children. The revolutionary pump design converts rotational movement to reciprocating linear movement by a driving mechanism consisting of only two working parts.

This makes the pump highly effective, easy to operate and very economical by keeping costs and maintenance to an absolute minimum. The pump is capable of producing 1400 litres per hour at 16 rpm from a depth of 40 metres and is effective up to a depth of 100 metres. A typical hand pump installation cannot compete with this delivery rate, even with substantial effort.

Playing on a roundabout or merry-go-round has always been fun for children, so there is never a shortage of ‘volunteers’. As the children spin, water is pumped from underground (3) into a 2500 litre tank (4), standing seven metres above the ground. A simple tap provides easy access for the mothers and children drawing water (5).

To top off the business opportunity, the company even sells ad space on the storage tank. What a fun, innovative idea!

Via Wilson’s Blogmanac (thanks, Pip!) and global pulse.

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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at



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