Sizing a water pump is as important as selecting a shoe that fits

By October 4, 2022 No Comments

The Energy Efficient Borehole Pumping Systems five-day training of trainers was off to a great start with the first cohort completing their course on 9 September 2022 at Strathmore Energy Research Centre. The training was exhilarating as it merged both the theoretical and practical aspects of concept design, detail specifications, solar systems, the installation process, operations, maintenance, and troubleshooting of energy-efficient borehole pumping systems. The delegates trained included engineers with electrical, mechanical, environmental, civil, and water backgrounds from Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, and Sudan. This made the experience rich and diverse.


“The training has been yet another opportunity to learn about the implementation of design thinking.” These were some of the remarks from one of the delegates, Sandra Banda, a Project Engineer at Strathmore University. “I look forward to imparting the knowledge gained to aspiring or advanced project managers to efficiently design and analyze energy systems for their borehole systems,” she added.


Field visits


As part of the five-day training, the delegates visited Grundfos, a company keen to solve the world’s water and climate challenges, and Davis and Shirtliff, a leader in water and energy solutions to get hands-on experience on the operational aspects of water pumps and key aspects to look out for when selecting submersible and surface pumps. Participants were able to have a look and feel of small pumps for household use and large pumps used in wastewater. Further, by the end of the visit, they were able to spot replica, substandard pumps, that mimic the original pumps in the market.


Sizing and selecting a water pump


Some of the key lessons learnt during the training was the importance of correctly sizing a borehole pump. Do you remember your younger years when your parent would buy you a shoe one size bigger to ensure it lasts longer? Sometimes, we carry this concept into sizing a pump, which in turn not only raises the cost over time but is a disservice to the user and the environment. Wrong sizing can cause cavitation issues, bearing failure, impeller failure, and excessive vibration, which in the end increases the maintenance costs and depletes the groundwater table. Additionally, when selecting either a submersible or a surface pump, it is important to consider the flow rate, total head of the pump, pump curves, and pump model to ensure the pump provides the service that is required.


“I have waited four years to get an opportunity to be trained as I work in a rural setting where the majority of the population are cattle herders and indigenous farmers. We solely rely on solar water pumps and this training has taught me the concepts of selecting and sizing a water pump, data collection before drilling a borehole, understanding the types of solar panels to use and the right cabling during installation. This was a great learning opportunity for me.” said Charles Na’anyen Dashe, Water and Habitat Engineer, Jos Plateau State, North Central Nigeria.


The engineers now embark on a personal case study project to put into practice their findings when they return to their different countries. Upon submitting their project, they will receive a certificate.


The training that  began on 5 September 2022 is part of a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Committee of Red Cross where Strathmore University offers learning space and technical learning capacities to ICRC’s team of engineers, staff, and other humanitarian experts. ICRC, in turn, equips the University’s laboratories with customized training equipment and tools.


This project is funded by Strathmore Energy Research Centre and the International Committee of the Red Cross and is led by Mr. Ignatius Maranga.

This article was written by Anne Njoroge, a Communications Officer at Strathmore Energy Research Centre.

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