Two children in a Haiti refugee camp bat the handle of a swinging pendulum back and forth playfully. At first, it seems like a rudimentary game. But in reality, it's utilizing a new technology that can save lives by providing fresh water in a region ravaged by destruction.
The movement of the pendulum is powering a pump that can filter 1,000 gallons of water an hour through a reverse-osmosis water treatment system.
The technology, called the Feltenberger Pendulum pump was developed by Gravitational Energy Corporation, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, company that spent six years and $1.3 million inventing the technology. It is currently being field-tested in Haiti by One Life Missions Foundation, providing clean water for about 4,000 people a day in a refugee camp.
The reciprocating pump is moved by a large pendulum attachment which can swing through 360 degrees, if required, using a patented device to convert rotary movement into horizontal motion.
The weight of the pendulum, once started up, means that keeping the machine swinging or rotating is extremely easy and can even be done by a child. The pendulum pump has four settings that adjust the volume and/or pressure of the water being pumped.
The system is being marketed for disaster regions and Third World countries. Gravitational Energy made the first sale of the pump only last month, when a customer from the Netherlands bought a unit for a community in flood-ravaged Pakistan.
The pump also has potential application for military use in combat zones or difficult terrain. Gravitational Energy is also considering backpack-size pumps for mobile situations, hand-cranked pumps that would power electrical generators and room-size pumps that can generate commercial-grade electricity and power a desalination plant.
"I worked out the concept for our GAP technology over 40 years ago and spent the last six years getting to the production stage," said Bruce Feltenberger, the inventor and president of Gravitational Energy. "I'm excited to see our first application making a difference in the daily lives of so many people in Haiti."