Solar Hot Water System— To ensure a highly efficient flat-plate collector, Gaviotas engineers stripped a copper sheet in nitric acid, then oxidized it with a solution of copper sulfate dissolved in hydrochloric acid. The outcome is a deep black color, deposited directly on the copper, resulting in a solar collector so efficient that water is heated to 120°F even on overcast days. Street kids turned solar hot water technicians manufacture the collectors in the Gaviotas factory in Bogota.
“Sleeve” Water Pump—Typical hand pumps require a person to lift a piston to make the water rise. In the Gaviotas sleeve pump, the piston stays in place inside a lightweight plastic sleeve, and the sleeve is lifted instead. This design requires much less effort and enables water pumping from much deeper wells than a conventional hand pump—its submerged piston and cylinder allow it to operate in wells with water depths greater than 10 meters. Gaviotan engineers took this idea one step further, coupling the sleeve pump to a seesaw, turning a common children’s playground toy into a life-nurturing technology that can provide clean water to rural communities.
Windmill Water Pump—After building 58 different models of windmills over nine years, Gaviotan engineers finally hit on a simple and inexpensive design to suit Gaviotas’ tropical climate. Building off of ideas from Holland, Australia, and Africa, the village designed a windmill that pumps thousands of gallons of water per day, and can operate at wind speeds as low as 4 miles per hour. The windmill has five aluminum blades, patterned after landing flaps Gaviotan engineers spotted in a NASA airfoil catalog, each turned inward to eliminate the need for a tail. It drives a double-acting stainless steel piston pump. The result is a windmill that is 10 times lighter than a traditional windmill, needs three times less wind, and does not need to be stopped in a storm.
Hydraulic Ram Pump—The Gaviotas Hydraulic Ram can pump thousands of gallons of water, day and night, to a maximum distance of 1,000 meters with a height of 100 meters, without electricity or fuel consumption. The ram pump uses the force of falling water, developing pressure that lifts to a point higher than where the water originally started.