A solar powered irrigation pump for under $100.

The sun is a powerful resource for countries between the tropics. We at The Imagination Factory, are developing an innovative solution to bring affordable and effective irrigation to sub-Saharan Africa using this resource.

By concentrating abundant solar energy, we can generate a source of clean, green steam (thermal image on the right). This drives a condensing steam pump, accessing groundwater, that would normally be out of reach for millions of farmers. These pumps were popular for over 200 years up to the 1930’s due to their simplicity and ease of use. By modernising these designs, we are creating a system that can run in a variety of challenging conditions and locations.

Alternative irrigation methods.

Common irrigation methods in Africa are either expensive to own like diesel fuelled pumps, or require significant manual labour to run such as a treadle pump. Our solar powered irrigation pump produces zero CO2 emissions and requires no manual labour to operate. 


Irrigation using this pump will increase yield. With initial funding from the Department for International Development and Innovate UK(DFID), to design a $50 irrigation pump, we have developed our design through several proof of concept rigs and hope to take it to Africa by May 2018. Additional grants, will allow us to distribute the pump in Africa by 2020. 

2018 update

The solar thermal team has travelled far and wide in recent months, to test its latest iteration of the solar pump design, working hard to produce a solution for under $100. It needs to provide the power to irrigate an acre of land and remove the need for diesel fuel or manpower to operate a mechanical pump. 

More recently, Matt and Julian were in Kenya meeting with farmers and investigating what challenges lie ahead for supply and distribution.

Future developments.

But this is just the start of the story. We have a development roadmap that will see more innovative uses for the technology such as off grid power generation and refrigeration to help reduce food waste in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Imagination Factory has over two decades of experience in the design and development of products using cradle to cradle methods and materials. If you want to know more, please get in touch and join us on our journey.


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