Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Buzz Durham. Hydraulic ram pumps and biochar.

Heads up: the first part of this post has technical information and a lot of basic details from the trip in May. To start with scroll past the details and enjoy photos and thn check the text for more information as you need to.

All in all, it was an incredible trip. Thanks, Buzz! And thanks to the folks of Grace Covenant for supporting him.

The last two weeks of May, Buzz Durham, from Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Asheville, North Carolina, came and worked with us on the hydraulic ram pump (Clemson design)  and on biochar (What is biochar?) in Haiti.

Our work actually started in Santo Domingo, DR, where Buzz and I spent two half days looking for polyethylene irrigation pipe. Around 11 o'clock during out second half day, we finally found what we were looking for, at an irrigation supply store (and not at the plumbing supplies places where we had been looking). For your edification, what we found that was clearly what we wanted was 4 Atmosphere pipe, 63 mm (the closest in metric to 2") black polyethylene flexible pipe, at about $US 0.75 a foot ($RD 90.00 a meter). This pipe is half as expensive as PVC SCH 40 2" and has much better potential for surviving the ups and downs of Haitian water systems. They also had available the equivalent of 1/2" poly flex pipe for $RD 15.00 a meter. That would be maybe $US 0.12 a foot. We are talking exciting prices here. This is one of at least two places in SD that supply this pipe. Word from our handler at the supply company was that the pipe is now being producing in the Dominican Republic. Details, however, were not forthcoming. Tantalizing.

The trick will be, of course, to purchase in the Dominican capital and get the pipe to the border and into Haiti. A large truck and all sorts of contacts would be helpful here. Put those  issues on your prayer list. We did get a 100 m of 6 Atmosphere pipe as far as Jenny and my house in Barahona. How will I get that to Wilner's house? No ideas yet.

Crossing the border, Sunday, May 19th, was a chore. Buzz can tell you about it some time.

You may remember that during Buzz's first trip to work with us, we set up a pump at Wilner Exil's home (Installing Wilner's pump in Leodiague. On Monday PM, May 20th, we headed up to spend the afternoon with Wilner looking at his system and evaluating how we could improve it, given we did not actually have the flexible pipe that would have resolved most of Wilner's problems. After working with Wilner on figuring out those issues, we headed back down the mountain and home to Bassin Zim.

Tuesday AM, May 21st, Buzz did a workshop for the Road to Life Yard and Moringa project crew on the pump, on making alternative charcoal using a system developed by MIT's D-Lab, and on turning that charcoal into Biochar. We had about 15 participants.

In the afternoon, we headed back up to Wilner's house and worked on his system, going with a decent group of volunteers from the Road to Life Yard crew.

Thursday AM, May 23rd, we headed to Verettes, to work with ODEVPRE, OGAD and MRPST. Papay, Bassin Zim, Leodiague, all these areas are part of the Central Plateau, where MPP (Peasant's Movement of Papaye) is organized. ODEVRPE, OGAD and MRPST are farmer's organization working in Verettes, a municipality in the Artibonite province.These are also the three farmer organizations with which I am working in Verettes, as part of FONDAMA's yard garden program. FONDAMA (Haitian Foundation of Hands Together) is a member of the Presbyterian Hunger's Joining Hands program (Joining Hands). Alphabet soup, I know.

Thursday PM we went to Doublet, a community just outside of Verettes, to take measurements for possible hydraulic ram pumps. Playing with water ranks right up there with working with soil.

Friday AM, May 24th, Buzz did his second workshop, with about thirty participants coming from all three organizations. It was a grand success, due in no small way to the dynamic leaders that kept the group singing and moving and generally alive and alert. It was a lot of fun.

Friday PM, I did administrative work with the local technicians from ODEVRPRE, OGAD and MRPST whom we are training in yard garden techniques..

Saturday AM, May 25th, we headed to Léogâne to do everything all over again, but even more so. We had the great good luck to be able to go with two young men from ODEVPRE, Alex Paul and Givenson Laurent. All of us stayed with two leaders in the Léogâne organization, ODEPOL. Boston Jn Gilles was our main host, but Prezime helped out as well. Both live just outside of Léogâne in the sugarcane community of Darbonne.

Sunday AM, May 26th, we crossed the Grand River of Lèogâne and headed into the mountains with Luccène Sommervil. Luccène is the local technician who works with us as we monitor the progress of the other local technicians. Ask Buzz sometime about the first crossing that day. The mule helped on the second one.

Our stop for the night was at Luccène's house, about four hours up, going from less than 300 feet above sea level to over 2700 feet. Buzz observed that in his annual hikes on the Appalachian trail, 1,000 feet elevation difference was the most he had done so far.

Monday AM, May 27th, we took measurements for a possible pump at a spring 150 feet downhill from Luccène's home. In the PM, we dropped about 1,000 feet to the home of Esterne Joseph, where we spent the night.

Tuesday PM, May 28th, we took measurements for a possible pump at a spring some 750 feet from Esterne's house. In the afternoon, about 1:00 PM, we began the epic climb down the mountains, back to our hosts' homes in Darbonne.

Wednesday, May 29th, we were supposed to head back up a mountain to check out Serge and Enith's homes for pump possibilities, but fatigue had gotten the best of us, and we stayed at Boston's home and did wash and prepared for the workshop on Thursday. We also sent Alex Paul and Givenson Laurent on their way back to Verettes.

Thursday AM, May 30th, Buzz held his third workshop on the hydraulic ram pump, MIT D-lab charcoal, and biochar. We had about fifteen Haitian participants, and a group of 17 or so North Americans visiting as part of an MBF (Medical Benevolence Foundation) vision trip. In addition to Buzz, we had Berrique from Verettes who came down to talk with workshop participants on using the charcoal powder to make briquettes. Briquettes was the original design for the MIT D-lab charcoal. Berrique came into Darbonne Wednesday PM to help us on Thursday.

Thursday PM, we headed to Port au Prince to rest. Buzz traveled with Rhoda Beutler, who had come from north of Port au Prince to attend the workshop and talk with Buzz about rocket stoves (What is a rocket stove? and Power Point demonstration).

Friday AM, May 31st, we went looking for polyethylene irrigation pipes in Port au Prince. We found two sources for plumbing polyethylene pipe and they both said they would send us quotes for getting the kind that we are looking for. But that has not yet panned out. So as of now, we are back to looking to Santo Domingo.

Saturday, June 1st, we back across the border and home to Barahona. Buzz spent Sunday with us and went to Santo Domingo in Carbie Tours and then in taxi to the airport on his own Monday, June 3rd. Late in the evening he sent me an e-mail that said, "Home."

And that is the textual summary of the trip with Buzz. Next, the photos, which should be far more interesting.

Photos by Mark Hare, Herve Delisma and Buzz Durham, all right reserved.

Monday, May 22nd

Buzz Durham checking out Wilner Exil's pump. Using an eye level and a metric tape, Buzz, Fedlens, Wilner and Herve determined that we have a fall of 5' from Wilner's dam to the pump, and 50' of elevation from the pump to Wilner's barrel just inside his yard. So this pump is working at its theoretical maximum. Even more amazing that Wilner has been able to keep it pumping.

Tuesday, May 23rd

Mark Hare and Buzz Durham, presenting the hydraulic ram pump to MPP's Road to Life Yard and Moringa project crew.

Crew members (to the left) stuffing the first barrel for the "Fuel from the Fields" charcoal burn. Buzz priming the second barrel, the first step in the process. We used mostly dried coconut fronds and dried coconut husks for these two burns.

First barrel is going and second is nearly ready to light up.

 Moccène Joachim sealing off the second barrel which had lighter materials and was ready to seal sooner.
The first, heavy smoke is mostly moisture. Eventually the moisture gets burned off and the gases ignite. From our experiences with four or five burns we did over three days, using coconut fronds and coconut husks, you need to let this flame go for a while until there is almost no smoke. Then you seal it as you see Moccène doing in the previous photo.

Pounding the charcoal from the barrel into dust. This step is required when doing briquettes as well, but for briquettes, the charcoal must be completely pulverized to make briquettes that burn well.

Adding vermicompost (worm compost) to the charcoal to inoculate it with a plethora of healthy soil organisms.

Diamène Jean (left) helping to mix in the worm compost (vermicompost) to inoculate the charcoal powder, converting it into biochar. Based on his readings, Buzz recommended that the crew maintain the charcoal and vermicompost mix humid for two weeks before adding it to the mix for the vegetable tires. Check out photos from Marimaude's yard garden to see what we mean by vegetable tires (Marimaude's Vetgetable Tires). Buzz suggested adding about 1/2 a bucket of this mix for every two buckets of soil.

Helping rebuild Wilner's dam that powers his hydraulic ram pump. Buzz and Wilner also replaced connections that Wilner had jerry-rigged to keep the pump going after each flooding of Palma stream. For a list of those problems check out the posting: (Problems with the line)

Thursday, May 25th

All Thursday afternoon we measured the fall of the Grand River of Verettes to see if we could theoretically pump the water up to the nearest yard that is part of FONDAMA's yard garden program in Verettes. Together with a crew of five or six folks from ODEVRPE and MRPST, we measured this site for a fall of more than 3 meters, starting above this set of drops down to a relatively secure place we could mount a pump in the solid rock. Height (rise or elevation) from there to the Nesly Voltaire's home, where we could construct a cistern, was about 27 meters, which makes the pump technically feasible based on those two factors. For each meter of fall, we can elevate the water ten meters, so with three meters of fall, we could get the water up around 30 meters. The devil is in the details. This stream is volatile when it floods, so Buzz was thinking about how we could use rock climbing technology to drill into the rock and clamp everything in place. After about a week of contemplating, and seeing other sites in Lèogâne, Buzz asked me to keep looking in Verettes to see if there might not be another site with fewer complications.

Friday, May 26th

Buzz held his second workshop in Verettes with about thirty participants. Here he is explaining the pressure chamber as the final and most critical piece of the ram pump.

This workshop was fun. We had four dynamic group leaders who led us in singing, and dancing, and generally just kept all of us charged up. It was a huge lesson in how to create an environment where people can absorb information relatively easily, even when the information is fairly complex.

Once Buzz finished with a brief explanation of the theory of biochar (a technique from the Amazons, thousands of years old, developed by farmers), he moved quickly to the practical. Every single workshop participant began preparing the material for the burns.

Scrounging around on Thursday PM, after finishing our measurements in the Grand River of Verettes, we had found corn stalks, some corn husks and the ever available coconut fronds and coconut husks.

We did two burns. After sealing them with soil, our friend Berrique, talked with the group about how to turn the "Fuel from the fields charcoal" into briquettes, which he makes for his own use.

We used charcoal we brought from Papay to demonstrate turning the charcoal into Biochar. We used urine donated by workshop participants as a starter, with Buzz noting that they still need to add fresh cow manure for the transformation. Healthy urine is very limited in terms of micro-organisms.

For wrapping up, we held a game show. The participants divided into five or six teams, and then successively chose Buzz if they wanted a pump question, Mark or Herve for a Biochar question, or  Berrique for a briquette question. The person who gave the question then decided how many points the answer was worth, from 1 to 5. Other teams got the opportunity to complete the answer, so everyone had to listen to everyone else as they gave their answers. Fueled with the energy from the singing and the jokes, the game turned out to be a good ending to a good workshop.

When we asked the teams to work together to provide evaluations, they made excellent suggestions, most of which were related to the next time we should provide hands on practice with the pump, the same way we had with the charcoal and the biochar.

Sunday, May 26th

This trip Luccène Sommervil had a mule to carry our backpacks, sleeping mats and the food up the mountain. We walked over 10 kilometers, climbing over 900 meters to Luccène's house at about 980 meters.

Definitive proof that Buzz was really in the mountains. Alex Paul (far left), from Verettes also has proof that he made it up these mountain. The revolutionary-times cannon near the top of Orange mountain. The cannon is said to have been carried up the mountain by an woman recently freed from slavery and determined to keep her freedom against the intents of the Napoleon army to retake the island and reinstate slaver in the early 1800's. As the story is told, the woman's heart burst just as she reached this site to place the cannon.

Just after I had told Buzz that we were over the most difficult part of the climb, when we got to the cannon, we hit this slope. I'd forgotten the steepness of the final 45 minutes before we reached Luccène's home. We actually hit just over 1000 m at the top of this slope. From there it was mostly downhill.

These small, steep streams are the reason for our climb up into these hills. They seem to me to be exactly the kind of resource for which the hydraulic ram pumps were designed. They are small volume, but fast falling with a lot of energy that can be captured and used to send the water where you need it.

Luccène's yard garden. This is a significant part of the "why" for the pumps. Luccène already does a good job. What if he had water at hand most of the year round?

Monday AM, May 27th
Monday morning, after a good long night of rest, we began making measurements for Luccène's spring. Alex Paul is holding the transparent tube in the spring while Buzz and the rest of us find a good place for the potential pump. Buzz's recommendations include building a small impoundment, or dam to assure a constant flow of water into the delivery line.

Luccène (right) and his associate, Bruno (who arrived early Monday morning from across the mountain) cut a bamboo to measure the height of the fall, so to speak.

Bruno holds the bamboo up with the transparent tube tied to it and Buzz measures to the ground. Only ten meters from where Alex Paul was holding the tube in the water, we had three meters of fall, and this position for the pump was out of the stream bed, providing some extra security, although Luccène says that since this is a spring, it never floods.

Using an eye level, Buzz does a second measure of the elevation from the potential position of a pump to the source.

Luccène, Bruno and Alex Paul learn to use the eye level, calculating the elevation from the potential position of the pump to the house. With only thirteen meters of rise, there is plenty of energy in the stream to get the water up to Luccène's house, a distance of about 50 meters. Luccene had an interesting observation. As we talked about installing the pump, we also mentioned that he needed to really protect the spring. His comment was something like, "Oh yeah. I'm going to plant the head of the spring with a bunch of trees." Maybe adding value to water sources can increase the impulse to replant the slopes.

Luccène has close to 150 trees, "kapab"(Colubrina arborescens), in a tree nursery that is part of his yard garden space.

Monday PM, 27 May

Buzz admiring the beauty of the traditional mountain agriuclture, which includes a great diversity of fruits and staple crops. After lunch at Luccène's, we headed down towards Esterne's neighborhood, at some 600 meters of elevation (a mere 380 meters drop).

Tuesday AM, May 28th
Buzz and Esterne (right) looking at possible positions for a pump. Tuesday morning, we began measuring a potential site near Esterne's home. Esterne has one huge stream that floods violently and he has a smaller stream that flows into the larger one across from one of his fields. To avoid problems related to flooding, Buzz suggested working on the smaller stream. Esterne approved that idea because he is good friends with the owner of the land that the stream flows through.

Alex Paul tracking the time to measure the water flow. The hydraulic ram pump needs at least five gallons a minute. This stream was flowing at at least four times that, at about twenty gallons a minute. Esterne observed that during the dry season, the stream drops at most to half of the current flow, still well above the minimum.

Buzz talking with Esterne about how we might jump the supply line from the pump over the larger stream by passing a cable through the mango and tying it on the other side to a large rock. We would then tie the 3/4" polyethylene to the cable using something like carabiners. It was about 250 meters from the potential pump site to Esterne's house. Fall from up stream, about 50 meters, to the potential pump site, was 14 meters. Elevation to Esterne's house was 52 meters, close to a third of our potential pumping power of 140 meters. Tantalizing!!!

 Tuesday PM, May 28th

After finishing the measurements and eating lunch, we headed down the mountain. We got to the main route before the rain hit, which was a relief. But it kept getting more complicated as we got farther down the mountain. When we got to the Grand Rive of Léogâne, it was in flood, and we had to climb back up part of the mountain and ease our way through some new hills to find our way out without having to cross the big river. How was all that? As my brother Keith says when we ask him how his flight was, "We made it, so, it was good."

A shout out to Herve Delima and Givenson Laurent

Givenson Laurent (far left) registers Maurice (middle (white shorts and shirt) in FONDAMA's yard garden program. Givenson, together with Alex Paul came with us from Verettes, ostensibly to get redworms from the folks in ODEPOL. But they decided to experience the mountains of Léogâne for themselves. While Alex Paul, Buzz and I (Mark) were doing exciting things with streams, Herve and Givenson were working with Maurice and his family on beginning to establish their official yard garden.

Maurice's daughter, Ilia, mixes up soil, sand and manure for the vegetable tires. Givenson (yellow shorts) helps build the bench to hold the tires.

Thursday AM, May 30th

Mark (front left) translating into English for Berrique as he explains the process for making briquettes to the Léogâne folk. This was Buzz's third and final workshop and he was pleased that Berrique was willing to come from Verettes to add the briquette component. Haitian workshop participants were about fifteen. Visitors from the MBF vision trip were about 17, and represented all major geographical areas of the US, east, west, midwest, south.

Polyethylene pipe for potable water--at least three times the price per foot (or meter) of what we are looking for. This pipe is part of an MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) project in Desarmes, about ten miles east of Verettes. It came from  a supplier called H2O. Address: Delmas 42 Lechaud #2, toupre lycée, 29432020, 34109446. We are still waiting for a quote from them on the type of pipe we are interested in.

What next???

1) Find the funds and, hopefully, people who want to be part of this adventure.
2) Find the pipe, hopefully in Haiti.
3) Figure a way to get the supplies up the mountain to the remote communities where Bruno, Luccène, Esterne, Maurice, etc. live.
4) Build and test the pumps with Bruno, Luccène, Esterne, Maurice, etc.

If you have actually read this whole post, you may be hooked. Get in touch!

No comments:

Search This Blog