Operating a water pump with the force of gravity may seem like an interesting project for many. Roger Barton, from Ferron, Utah, didn’t just dream about it, but put his ingenious mind to work and, with the help of an engineering firm from Redmont he managed to change his diesel pump with a gravity-powered one.
When he and his wife first installed the diesel turbine to irrigate the 120 acres of alfalfa back in 1998, diesel was a dirt-cheap $1 per gallon, so it was worth the investment. Now, when prices climb, owning a diesel power plant just isn’t that rewarding, so they had to change things for the better.
Barton realized that the pressure of the water coming from the tower was double than he needed, and thought he could power a turbine that could produce electricity with it, and so he did. With help from the engineering Redmond Irrigation, he used a custom-made Cornell turbine to drive the hydraulic pivot that needed 15 horsepower to operate.
Besides being green, Barton’s system saves him $3,500 per year. Although the initial investment was $17,000 he received money from a grant under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) which consisted of a 65% cost share. His calculations show that he will recover the investment in about 2.5 years.
Gravity power is a resource that could be used more widely. If the water in the main tank gets there from the rain or from a mountain spring, that’s actually free energy that could be used in many places to replace diesel pumps or even grid electricity, having a potential of saving millions of dollars worldwide.