spiral pump
YouTube: Milan Vitéz

This Nifty Machine Pumps Water Without Electricity


We live in pretty terrifying times. The uncertainty created by the coronavirus outbreak is widespread, and things that we may have previously taken for granted, even basic utilities like water or electricity, have become tremendously affected by the pandemic.

It's times such as these when a strong DIY sensibility can go a long way. When resources seem just a little more scarce, it's important to consider machines and methods that may be the most exciting or cutting edge, but can serve as extremely effective, low-cost, low-maintenance alternatives.

With that in mind, feast your eyes on the spiral pump.


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Spiral Pump: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Also known as a water wheel pump, a spiral pump is simply a hydraulic machine that pumps water without electricity. First invented in the 18th century by a pewterer in Zurich, Switzerland named H.A. Wirtz, the spiral pump is fairly easy to make and install. It only consists of a pipe wrapped around a horizontal axle, generating a spiral tube that is fastened to a water wheel. In short, this is how the machine works.

Per PreScouter:

The water wheel is in flowing water, so that the water in the river provides the energy necessary for the rotation of the wheel. Hence, the spiral tube also rotates. When the inlet surface of the tube (the tube's external extremity) passes into the river, water enters into the tube. This water volume moves toward the outlet of the tube (the internal extremity), at the center of the wheel, where a straight tube is connected to the end-user.

Several water columns are generated inside the spiral tube, separated from each other by columns of compressed air trapped between the water columns. These columns of compressed air push against the water columns, so that at the outlet (the center of the wheel) the water achieves energy and velocity. In this way, it can be pumped at a higher elevation or at a certain distance from the river.


Today, the spiral pump is predominantly used in rural areas and developing countries, though we may see this water-pumping machine spike in popularity all over in the coming years, especially as talks of reducing carbon emissions and utilizing renewable energy continue to be had.

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