It works! Human-powered drill strikes water in Tanzania

Jul 15, 2011

A human-powered drill built by a team of BYU engineering students was meant to be inexpensive, easy to operate and easy to move. Field tests in Tanzania have shown the drill does just what it's supposed to do.

"At the end of our trip, it was exciting, "says Nate Toone, a graduate student of engineering. "We were drilling in a farm of and 70 feet down. When we unhooked the pipes, there was a small little . That was evidence to us we were successful. It was the payoff moment to see that water coming up and see the smiles on everyone’s faces and know that we had found clean water."

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Other water-drilling alternatives in the region either can’t dig deep enough or cost too much, sometimes upwards of $15,000. But the team’s device has the potential to a 150- to 250-foot-deep hole in a matter of days—all for about $2,000.

The drill was created for a year-long engineering capstone project that has students solving real engineering problems with real clients.  The team created the drill for WHOLives.org, a nonprofit dedicated to providing clean water, better health and more opportunities to people living in impoverished communities. The organization is currently focusing its drilling efforts on , but it has plans to expand its operations to other countries. The project is also co-sponsored by the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology.

The drill can be operated by four people. Three spin the wheel that turns the bit, and the fourth lifts the bit up and down when necessary to punch through tough spots. A pump system removes the dirt from the six-inch-wide hole.

"At the beginning of the year we had a meeting with the sponsor, and he said that very rarely do you get an opportunity to work on a project that can change millions of lives," says Toone. "You forget that sometimes when you're in the middle of working and setbacks and frustrations, but it's really good to see it pay off. It has definitely paid off."

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User comments : 5

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jwalkeriii
not rated yet Jul 15, 2011
Brings a smile to my face. Kudos!
hikenboot
not rated yet Jul 15, 2011
Where do i get one of these? Or the plans to make one?
Husky
not rated yet Jul 16, 2011
greatwork, also like how the villagers get involved, how many times have we seen american tractors rot away in africa because there were no spare parts? this is simple cheap, durable and green, a real winner
WaterDriller
not rated yet Jul 19, 2011
For more information on leasing a Village Drill, you can contact WHOlives.org for possible options. They are planning to manufacture and implement about 10 more in Tanzania over the next year or so.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Jul 22, 2011
We can cheaply drill wells in Arfrica, but not here?