Innovation: SunPulse Water - solar thermal water pump PDF Print E-mail

Sunvention pump at Tamera test site Sunvention have developed an integrated solar thermal water pump, possibly the first cost-effective solution to village-scale pumping in sunbelt countries.


Much of the world's rural poor lack access to water, and part of this is a lack of cost-effective pumping.

The World Bank set a “maximum water cost target” of 6 US cents/m3 as benchmark for pumping systems in order to be economically employed in sunbelt countries. Gasoline powered pumps figure in the relevant World Bank Study at 8.58 US cents/m3, while photovoltaic systems are estimated at US 8.4 cents/m3.


Sunvention have developed an integrated solar thermal pump. It uses a collector, steered in two axis, and coupled directly to a slow-speed atmospheric pressure Stirling engine, which can be coupled directly to a pump – or other requirement for mechanical power.

The system is designed for manufacture in developing countries, using locally available, non-toxic, recyclable, materials and appropriate techniques.

meters (feet)
Volume per day
Litres (Gallons)
Field Irrigation 400,000 l (100,000 g)
10m (33 ft) 80,000 l (21,000 g)
50m (165 ft) 17,000 l (4,500 g)

The pump, starts working at sunrise, and with 8 hours of sun, can pump significant volumes.

Buffering systems can extend usage to 24-hours.

It is estimated the pump could be produced for about US$1,250 and sold of US$2,500.


TÜV labs recently assessed the system at a cost of US 2.4c/m3 making it the first village scale pump that we are aware of that meets the World Bank target.

There are 20 million diesel pumps (typically of this capacity) in India alone. Reaching even 0.1% of this market per year, would generate US$ 25m/year gross profit.

Additional markets include any off-grid pumping application in sunny regions. Air pumping for fish-farms; off-grid mechanical requirements (milling, grinding, compressing etc)

SunPulse Water pumping


The Sunpulse water pre-production prototype is complete and discussions are under way with possible manufacturing partners.

SunPulse Water driving India Mark II pumpTechnology details

At the front of the pump is a solar collector; this reflects sunlight towards the middle where it heats up the front of a Stirling Engine.

Sunvention’s unique design of Stirling engine uses air at atmospheric pressure as the working fluid, and pulses at a slow 30-60 times per minute.

The pump can be attached to a rotary pump, or as shown, connected to a hydraulic cylinder.

The other end of the hydraulic hose is connected to a hydraulic cylinder attached in this case to an India Mark II Water Pump.

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 April 2011 18:52
is a Research & Development laboratory that has developed a range of technologies and expertise in overlapping fields of greenhouse solar capture; stirling engines; and optics for photovoltaics ..."> Sunvention - solar greenhouses, stirling engines & optics

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