University of Sheffield student Jon Leary was required to “make something useful out of rubbish” as part of his dissertation. What he ended up doing was transforming lives. As part of his studies as a Mechanical Engineering major, Leary spent four months in Guatemala. There, he introduced the locals to his bicibomba movil, a mobile bicycle-powered water pump. Now, using cast-off bicycles and discarded pumps, Guatemalan farmers can irrigate their land much more easily and effectively than ever before.
Leary developed the system while still in the UK. Basically, it consists of an old electrical pump attached to a metal frame, which pivots around the rear axle of a bicycle. When in transport mode, the frame and pump flip up and rest above the back wheel, so the bicycle can be pedaled. When it’s time to pump, the bicycle stops and the frame flips down underneath the back wheel, with the bike’s tire resting against the armature of the pump. Much like a stationary resistance trainer, the rider then pedals in place, thus spinning the armature and powering the pump. On flat ground, it can move water at a rate of 40 liters per minute.
“The inspiration came from regular pannier racks that are used on touring bikes to carry things over the back wheel of a bike” Leary told us. “I was sketching up a few designs and noticed that the stand for lifting the rear wheel of the bike off the ground that I kept drawing could work just like a pannier rack if flipped upside down.”
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