Guelph – A new pump that uses air to circulate water is being developed at the University of Guelph, and it could make some favorable waves in the aquaculture industry.
Known as the Airlift Pump, the device is intended to replace costly and energy-hungry circulation machinery at both inland and open-water fish farms. It’s versatile, energy efficient, and even has some unintended and rather positive side effects on water quality.
According to principal researcher Wael Ahmed, associate professor at Guelph’s School of Engineering, the Airlift Pump is an aeration system using a specially designed dual air injector, and runs using the physics of buoyancy.
As water flows into the pump, air is injected at a specifically controlled rate. Farmers can change from continuously injected air to a pulsating injection mode, depending on need, with aerated water then making its way back to the a farm’s fish enclosures for circulation.
More sustainable aquaculture in Canada and abroad is the goal of a novel research project at the University of Guelph that brings together experts in fish nutrition and engineering.
The energy consumption in pumping systems accounts for approximately 20% of the world’s electrical energy demand. Moreover, the operational cost of pumping machinery far outweighs their capital cost. Accordingly, engineers strive for optimum equipment performance for achieving economic operation. A thorough understanding of the components and principles of operation of these machines will provide an opportunity to dramatically reduce energy, operational and maintenance costs. Reducing energy consumption will also complement the current thrust towards protecting our environment. The book is an introductory reference covering the theoretical foundation and applications of various types of pumping machinery. It presents the fundamental concepts underlying the flow processes in these machines and the transformation of mechanical energy into fluid power. Special emphasis is given to basic theoretical formulation and design considerations in addition to improving problem solving skills. This is achieved through the presentation of many solved examples of applied nature. The book consists of nine chapters covering two main themes; the first smoothly introduces the essential terminology, basic principles, design considerations and operational-type problems in pumping machinery. This part is supported by a good number of solved examples and problems at the end of each chapter for the benefit of senior undergraduate students and junior engineers. This is considered a key feature of this book as enough solved problems and exercises are barely found in other books in this area. The second theme focuses on advanced topic such as two-phase flow pumping systems targeting practicing field engineers and introductory research scientists.
Imagine a pipe with water flowing through it. It’s not too hard for an engineer to gather information about the volume of water and the pipe geometry to make accurate predictions about how fast the water will flow or how much pumping power is required to produce this flow rate.
But now imagine the pipe contains water and gas, such as steam or air. Or there are two liquids – say, water and oil. Or there are solids suspended in the water. All of these situations are much more common in real-world engineering applications like power generation, water treatment and gas and oil transportation, and making predictions becomes much more complicated.
Engineering professor Wael Ahmed doesn’t mind complicated. In fact, he’s fascinated by the process of analyzing multi-phase flow – the technical term for these situations. “There are no simple formulas because there can be so many different factors,” he explains.
Ahmed joined the U of G faculty this summer and is beginning a research program aimed at understanding these complex flows in order to design more efficient and sustainable systems.