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Airlift pump design -ideas-

I have yet to build a serious one — however, I run a little pond spitter that works on very basic idea of this principle — “stick an air tube into a side of larger water tube” — based on this design:
:arrow: How to make my high lift/submergence ratio airlift pump. Lets rewrite the textbooks! - YouTube


I’m going to be mostly using Airlift pumps for my little pond.

— ‘waterfall’ just needs to pump up and fill — more volume for more interesting flow but I can live with just a trickling — I will probably use this as first real test after upgrading the spitter supply.

— the bog/biofilter pump will be the stronger one to push the water through with some force and fill a bigger volume, so I intend to dig deeper/bigger hole for a larger Rubbermaid slim-can well/reservoir, and build a full-featured airlift pump but out of 2 inch rather than 4 inch diameter if I can until I can squeeze a more powerful air pump into my budget.

— but for these, I need fully pressured bubble chamber that I plan to adapt from these two designs:
:arrow: Dutch Turbo Airlift design discussed here - Airliftsturing samengevat - Koivrienden

:arrow: burper pump designed at OlomanaGardensAquaponicsSystem


— I’m also thinking of building and using an airlift pump to supply aquaponic gravel beds like those on the patio to replace the 4 ft windowbox that is starting to fall apart. I want to study more about different siphon systems as well, to integrate them with rain barrel-supplied irrigation pipeline in my still vaguely imagined “ultimate dream system” :D


Some design ideas I’m doodling and starting to assemble for testing —
Image
Image
...another project on the table this year is HYPERTUFA >> I want to slap some hypertufa mix on the purple dinosaur sandbox and see if I can sculpt a presentable dragon “fountain” :wink:
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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

This is all very new to me, and right now, I feel like I’m playing with a jigsaw puzzle or LEGO — not the newer ones with detailed instructions, but ones from my childhood that was all open-ended imagination. I’ve run into trouble several times when an idea didn’t work because they didn’t have the kind of “shape” I had in mind at the store — the required fittings and connectors are available on-line — but I’ve also run into situations where the combination I had in mind didn’t actually work when fitted together.

Compared to the standardized big box stores where nobody seems to know where anything is except to point me most unhelpfully and vaguely to a vast “aisle #” ... smaller local hardware store that has been in existence for ages seem to have more varieties of fittings and parts, and a helpful assistant managed to find pieces to put together a 1/2” x 3/16” adapter combo with the required ends from 3 different sections of pipes, tubes, and hoses department.

If you see any problems in my sketches, let me know. :wink:
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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

Just consider "dwell time" for your bog filter.
A lot of folks think that turnover rate is the way to rate pumps, while a large turnover rate is great for mechanical filtration it really doesn't help with bio filtration. Since your bog will be mainly a Bio filter, a trickle is fine.
My current "veggie" filter has a pump that is turning over the water to quickly, I will be installing a smaller pump when I get a chance.
A waterfall is also a great Bio filtration but with a waterfall you can get away with a higher rated pump.
They do sell valved splitters, I had uses them in the past.
Will you be using filtration inside the pond? Will you be using any mechanical filtration? Pond skimmer? Fish year round?

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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

My head was spinning after looking at those diagrams, why not just use a few pumps, you could use hose and you wouldn't need all that plumbing.

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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

Ha! Partly, it’s because I’m in love with the concept and I want to build one and see it in action. Having been looking for the past 3 years or so, quite few new/different ideas/designs have surfaced and have been posted around, and I want to see how far I can get within my limited tech/crafting abilities and budget. :>

This sort of convinced me, too, although I only found this video recently — he summed up several of my concerns (remember, I electrocuted my fish :oops: ) and I’m in agreement:
Water pump vs Air pumps, that is the question?
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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

I see your point about the waterfall — you need more FLOW = VOLUME for the dramatic water FALL effect.
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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

Testing my first model — it is making fascinating gurgling noises, but is not pumping up. :roll: I could see the air bubbles roiling in the inner 1” stand-pipe, so the airline through the grommet in the outer 1-1/2” tube is sending the air down the gap between the tubes to the bunch of tiny 1/16” and 3/64” holes I drilled in the 1” tube.

Image

I tried inserting a length of 1/2 inch garden hose down the 1” stand-pipe to reduce the diameter, and it seemed like the gurgling sounds had come up more, though I was no longer able to see anything down the garden hose since it’s a bit curved. (Now I’m wondering if I had cut it short enough — I think I did... and did not block the tiny air bubble holes. I’ll have to make sure in the morning.)

So why is it not working?
- I was supposed to use a 3/4” inner stand-pipe — maybe 1” is too big? Or maybe I will see the pump working tomorrow morning through the 1/2” garden hose.
- maybe it takes a while to prime ..would it help if I add water from the top?
- not enough water pressure/volume relative to air bubbles? maybe I need to drill more holes in the pebbles-weighted jug the 1-1/2” is inserted in... or I need to drill or cut gaps in the bottom of the 1-1/2” since the bottom of it is pressed into the pebbles.
- the bucket is not deep enough — but that’s the depth of the pond, so that’ll be a problem
- my air pump might be underpowered. I’ll try with my other, slightly stronger air pump tomorrow, and if that doesn’t work, try with BOTH air pumps supplying the air.
- it’s also possible that without gluing them together, it’s impossible to truly test since the system isn’t tightly sealed....
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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

The height of the water being lifted is proportionate to it's depth.

The idea of an airlift is that the air/water mix has half the density of water alone and should lift the water equal to the immersed depth of the pipe.

Now if you look at a submersible pump pumping straight water (no air) you would get an increase in head pressure the higher you go.
I think diameter also has a role to play, but I'm a printer not a scientist.

But back to the airlift pump, So a 14" submerged pipe with the proper air pump and Stone should lift the water 14" above the water level.

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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

Yep. That’s my understanding, and given halfway decent design, the pump should be able to lift 1/2 of the depth.

My pond is 18” deep when full by local code, and needs to lift about 6 additional inches to the turtle spitter ledge, it should be well within an airlift pump capability. I just have to figure out what needs fixing. But the turtle spitter doesn’t need the turnover — it’ll be serviced by the narrower tube model once I get that finished. I might also try the “pneumatic ejector/geyser airlift pump” using an enclosed water chamber and air siphon.

For the 1” one — and I still have to try the compression-fit bubble chamber pump designs, too (2 different styles)— I plan on digging a deep hole and using the Slim Jim trash can. But I may re-think this and use a capped 3 or 4 inch well-pipe instead. Maybe I will try testing this model in the Slim Jim trash can and see if there is any difference. I’ll have to get a longer 1-1/2” but I needed at least another 4-5 ft for the bog filter anyway.

On the Dutch website, I believe the 4” diameter turbo airlift is using a 6 ft deep 6 or 8” diameter capped well-pipe.
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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

The only thing I can think of for your lift problem is inadequate air, either with your pump or your Stone.

I used these for my deep water culture hydroponics.
Very fine bubbles.

https://www.hydroponics.net/i/132917

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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

I think you are right @SQWIB. I’m poised to upgrade from aquarium air pumps and splurge on a pond air pump. I do think it will make a difference, and better to do this now since the airline/hose diameter and fittings will be larger.

This morning,
- I modified the above model by placing the outer 1-1/2” stand-pipe on a sweep wye inserted in the gravel-weighted jug, which provided clear water intake and raised the base by about 5 inches.
- I added the 2nd air pump with 2 outlets and connected all three airlines to the supply line.

>> result raised the lift from about 4 inches to 6 inches above the water surface — you can sort of see the bubbles
Image
...this might mean all I have to do is cut the stand pipe shorter, since the bubbles are not reaching the top.
...I noticed the water was also rising between the inner and outer tubes, and exiting from the air line despite the air pressure, so I added a check valve just outside the gasket. Could this/wouldn’t this have affected the air flow/pressure?

...I wanted to test in deeper container, but had to give up on that for today since I need the extra pipe lengths.

...I was going to work on my PEX model and realized I don’t have the connector collar crimping tool. Duh!

>>decided to go to the hardware store in late PM when I had to run an errand. (As it turned out - change of plans, and I didn’t get to go shopping :( )


In the mean time, I tried making a new version of “stick an air line in a tube” air lift for the turtle spitter.

- new model was made with an old watering wand — connection to garden hose completely broke, but this one had a standard 3/4” male thread for the replaceable rose that accepted a garden hose x irrigation barb fitting.
- I drilled a hole in the aluminum shaft, just above the vinyl covered grip and fitted a rubber grommet lined with Teflon tape. I inserted a rigid tubing inside the air line for a tight fit.
- mostly, the improvement in this new version is that all connections are tight with no leaks

- At first it didn’t work at all, even after using both air pumps.
- When I stood the new airlift assembly upright in the pond, the top of the wand was about 8 inches above the water surface, and foam would come out and lots of air, but water wasn’t lifting all the way up....
- After going back to look at last year’s, I realized that one had a shorter stand pipe/tubing that tended to fall over, AND I had added a long “tail” below the air inlet which was only a hole in the softer clear vinyl tubing with airline pushed in it.
- I decided for this burp-and-spit type design, it doesn’t need the straight vertical — it looked ridiculous standing in the deep part of the pond, anyway, and the water line to the turtle was messing with the air bubble pattern.
- So, I leaned it over so the top was next to the turtle, then turned it so the sweep of the wand was upright.

- Here is the rudimentary old one on the left, and new one hooked up and starting to work —
Image


>> MUCH better :D
Image

...I have a couple more ideas to try for this one — maybe tomorrow. :wink:


It was a relief to confirm that I do have this particular simple airlift concept and design pretty much down. Now to move up to the next level.
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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

I'm thinking the check valve could impede/interfere with flow.
Maybe the bubbles are being dispersed at the check valve and in essence making the Froth/Water heavier reducing lift.
I don't understand why you have/need a check valve?
I really need to blow up your drawings on a computer and check them out.
I think I'm missing something here.

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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

Here's on of the pumps that I used.
In my hydroponics.
This ran 12 1.5" x 2.5" stones.
I'm sure it's Overkill for you but you never know. Lol.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002J ... ailpages00

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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

I HAD been looking at the 32W model of one of those, but ended up buying a Danner/Pondmaster AP-20 with a special Amazon gift card I’ve been saving for a special gardening use. :mrgreen:

It’s the right “type” as ones being used in the airlift pump reference links, and I like that there is a purchase able “kit” for refurbishing this model. No more tearing off (actually meticulously cutting out shapes with an exacto knife) a piece of athletic shoe rubber, flip flops, or old tire, and trying different tiny pieces of varying thicknesses of plastic and film for perfect diaphragm, like I’ve been doing with various models of aquarium pumps.
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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

…dabbled some more today

Yesterday, I hooked up both pumps.
Today I really compared their technical specs. I took photos of the airlifted/bubbling water, with both pumps, and each of the pumps supplying the air. But rest of the tests were done using both pumps.

- The old air pump is WhisperAir 10 rated for 10 gal aquariums. 1.5W and 0.5L/min. It ran all last season, so may need to be refurbished, but the replacement diaphragm kit costs nearly 2x what you can get the air pump for, and it’s more economical to just buy a new one.

- Somewhat higher powered 2x outport new pump is UnicLife UL40 rated for 40 gal aquariums. 4W and 1 L/min. Not much literature available, and no replacement diaphragm kit for this at all, but it is reasonably priced.


I took all these pictures in livephoto mode, but can’t post them here — maybe I was able to pick the best still-shot of the pumped water burping/bubbling out.

Image

- In the end, since the WhisperAir 10 was hardly making a difference, I took that off to take it apart and look inside. I compensated for the minuscule loss of power by modifying/fitting the spitting pipe with a straight airline fitting to reduce the diameter.

- center photo is interesting. I was trying to see what would happen if I added a way for the air to exhaust separately — it does produce a steady solid stream — more than a trickle. It made the turtle dribble constantly, instead of spit every so often. ...not a good design fit, but this might suffice for a bog filter like SQWIB mentioned, and also means I could maybe make a bamboo deer/boar chaser.


...I think this all means that once the 20W/1700 cu.in (27.86L)/min pond air pump arrives and is running the major airlift pump(s), I should still be able to borrow enough little air either directly or by recycling collected air from the other airlifts to run the spitter... or I might have a “Squirtle” (squirting turtle) by the time this project is completed.
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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

- Yesterday, I tried out the new pond air pump. It has an air outlet that accepts 5/8” ID tubing ... 5/8” ID, hey isn’t that the size of a thinner garden hose? ... I had to check it out and roamed the garden and rummaged in the shed for old lawnmower victims waiting for their 2nd life. (Yep, had some.) And assembled this manifold to supply air with the 3/16 inch ID aquarium airlines in two directions.
Image
— but my first “wannabe burper/geyser” model still wouldn’t work, even after I blocked the 2nd supply airline so it was the only one being supplied. ...maybe I’m restricting the airflow too much by stepping down to 3/16 inch airlines?...

— I took the big one apart and decided the failure is DEFINITELY due to incomplete understanding of the “burper/geyser” airlift pump design — and the failure is in air-tight compression of the outer 1-1/2 inch pipe airgap with the inner 1 inch pipe.
— I’m also thinking I might have drilled too many holes in the inner pipe because I was thinking I will test the compression-fit turbo Airlift with the same pipe.
— and due to incomplete understanding of the design, I had made the inner pipe too long so that proper air siphoning/surge/burping effect was probably not being created
Image
— that was as far as I got — I switched up and worked on moving the purple dinosaur sandbox/bog, which involved weeding, shaping and leveling the ground, and laying blocks under the liner along the far side of the pond edge to support the bog.
— I also cut and assembled the under gravel pond filter supply pipe so once the airlift pump is working I can put them all together and working (...although I still need to drill holes in the dinosaur’s face and fit the outlet/drain pipe, so I really can’t be filling the bog with gravel and water just yet...)



In the evening/overnight, I decided to review the basic design concepts for the three models of airlift pumps I am attempting to build/understand simultaneously. :roll:

- I do think I have been confusing myself due to impatiently trying to build all three models at the same time instead of concentrating on each design

- After extensive study, I woke up with several ideas, and despite only getting 4-1/2 hrs sleep, got to work. :D


— this morning, I cut a shorter inner 1 inch tube with less holes for the “Burper/Geyser” and, after testing the fit of the previous model connections in a bucket of water and locating a compression failure leak, found a way to fit and screw down a bulkhead with a rubber gasket with a threaded fitting.
— But now there is a problem with the air tube inlet needing to be a tighter fit. In any case, I want to change the design to accept 5/8” ID garden hose air delivery from the new pond air pump, so I set this one aside for the day.

- Instead, I used the replaced 1” stand pipe with excessively drilled tiny aerator holes and tested out the compression-fitted Tee idea for the “Turbo Airlift” design.

— As you might be able to see, I designed this one to receive the air supply directly from the pond air pump via the (thinner darker green) garden hose, and attached yesterday’s manifold at the top to hopefully collect sufficient air to recycle for the turtle spitter (The turtle spitter airlift pump will be getting an extensive re-model to try out some ideas I had overnight, but I didn’t get the chance today)

Image
— the difference was immediately apparent, and very satisfying

— HOWEVER, when I gleefully and impatiently tried it out, it oozed and squirted water from the distribution slits at first, BUT, then stopped working. It was just jetting AIR from the slits. (I had to leave at this point. It was temporary, so I cross-tied the pump to keep it from falling over)
Image

— while running errands (actually driving DD’s to class and Apple store for MacBook repair, and waiting for them), I analyzed the possible problems
>> I was too impatient to attach a well-thought out water supply inlet at the base — the thing might just have gotten clogged
>> I was thinking maybe the 2nd open 3/16 inch airline was losing too much air, and that was why the turtle spitter was not doing anything at all, so I tried blocking it by turning the checkvalve around. But I’m wondering if this made air pressure from the top too strong, causing the “Turbo Airlift” to fail (you HAVE to allow the excess air to escape and separate from the water), and without the water pressure to block it, the air is exiting through the water outlet to the gravel distribution pipe.
>> I didn’t get the chance to try unblocking the 2nd line— I will have to try that first thing tomorrow
>> I might add an elbow to the outlet so the outlet/bog distribution supply isn’t sticking out like that — I think it will look neater
>> I did get a few more plumbing supplies to build a small collection chamber atop the stand pipe so the air can bubble up to the top of the chamber, while the water can exit via the bog filter supply line with hopefully a bit of gravity behind it.
>> I also found the fitting I need to connect threaded pipes to garden hose-ends so I can hopefully assemble a better water inlet intake screen to exclude debris without blocking the water flow too much.
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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

So, that was around 12:30pm. Just now, around 7:30pm, I looked out of the window for one more look before it got dark and the pond water level seemed distinctly lower. I grabbed my binoculars and looked to see if the bulkhead fitting connecting the tubing to the bottom drain of the purple dinosaur sandbox is holding — is that wet dirt I see? ...hmm not really...

Then I realized — the gravel filter distribution pipe is squirting here and there, and there are water ripples under the pipe like there is water movement. Image
If you look, the water in the “bog-to-be” was at 2nd-3rd cut on the distribution pipe, and now it’s at 8th-9th, and the red brick is completely submerged. Ha! Image

Image

...now I am worried that the pond is going to be REALLY low by morning... but it IS supposed to rain all day tomorrow.
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Re: Airlift pump design -ideas-

It’s been raining all day today. I woke up early and came up with this sketch for a water intake, then went downstairs and rummaged around
Image
... and assembled this out of a mayo jar, a couple of fittings and a hydro basket.
... While sketching, I was trying to decide if I want to use the grid-covered filter tray MINUS the filter pad —and fill with gravel instead— for the other side of the intake tee. My problem was envisioning WHERE to place it in the limited pond floor space. I originally considered standing it on its edge, but then remembered that there are steps cut into the pond in front of where the bog/filter is going, so I think the filter tray could be placed flat on the first step above the pump.

But it was raining too hard and we had tickets to go see the 11am showing of Avengers:Endgame today, so I didn’t have enough time to pull up the pump to mess around. I tried tinkering with the air bleed and collector, but it was impossible when I tried simple fixes with elbows and varying length of the 1/2 inch. It just made the pump shoot up more, and more :roll:
Image

... I will have to finish designing the holding “tank” — I’m thinking of suddenly increasing to a short 3 inch pipe — I think I have all the pieces I need, but I had another idea last night that may require another trip to the hardware store.
... Despite the failed attempts this morning, all that leftover “lift” did give me an idea — why bother to recycle the air for the turtle spitter airlift pump — I think I might just send the excess spurts to the turtle spitter.
... IF the modifications I’m thinking about for this pump greatly improves its lift and flow performance, there might just be enough reserve lift/flow energy to use this pump as the primary waterfall pump, and still use the secondary outflow for the bog/gravel filter (SQWIB did say all the bog/gravel filter needs is a trickle) and — who knows? — still have enough leftover for the turtle spitter....

>> I unplugged the pump for the day — bog had not filled up overnight, the rain will add more, and I will end up needing to empty it for the next part of its modification. I had hoped that the water might drain back to the pond, but the nature of airlift may prevent siphoning effect.
>> In addition to the trickle pipe somewhere in the dinosaur’s face, maybe I should be thinking about a bell siphon or other overfill triggered drain mechanism?
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