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    Thread: Someone's Playing with Airlifts Again...

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    1. #1
      Zac Penn is offline Supporting Member
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      Someone's Playing with Airlifts Again...

      I have been itching to play with new ideas in airlift manifolds and I wanted to run one of my DracoDrum Solum25 RDFs with a rectangular airlift at the Orlando Koi Show. I am sure the design will change quite a bit in the future but I just wanted to fill it up with water and see what happened today.

      The setup is a little weird but I needed to make it very small so I can use it in my display booth without taking up too much space. The airlift is powered by two Hakko 40L air pumps and they feed a custom rectangular air diffuser that I made. The airlift then pumps water into the RDF for polishing and then it gravity flows into a new Aerated Rio Media Filter that I have been designing for a while. This filter breaks up the incoming water into 6 individual water currents and flows through each block of Rio Media at an incredibly slow speed to achieve maximum dwell time. After the first pass the water then goes through another section of Rio Media to finish off any nitrification that is needed. The water then exits the filter and goes back into the airlift.

      The airlift riser tube is 15" x 4" inside dimensions so it is roughly the internal space of five 4" airlift riser tubes. I thought this massive inside volume would be a little starved for air at only 80 LPM but it appears to be flowing quite a bit of water at about 2.5" of lift. How much water is a complete mystery but it certainly looks cool. I will update next week on the setup. I only had 5 minutes to play with it today before I had to go home.

      The important thing is that airlifts are being played with again.
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    2. #2
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    3. #3
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      This should be fun to see close up in a few weeks.



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    4. #4
      Zac Penn is offline Supporting Member
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      I was having some fun with iMovie today. Enjoy...



      Make sure you select HD so you can really enjoy the bubbles

      40 LPM is on the left side of the screen and 80 LPM is on the right side of the screen
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    5. #5
      Zac Penn is offline Supporting Member
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      Slow Motion starts at around 15 seconds...


      40 LPM is on the left side of the screen and 80 LPM is on the right side of the screen
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    6. #6
      ricshaw is online now Supporting Member
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      I can't wait to see it!

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      Surely you have a guesstimate on how much water each is flowing!! Give us a hint!!!
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    9. #9
      Zac Penn is offline Supporting Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by GloriaL View Post
      Surely you have a guesstimate on how much water each is flowing!! Give us a hint!!!
      Honestly there is no way to tell right now, but at 80 LPM I would guess it to be somewhere in the 5000+ gph range based on how crazy those bubble tornados are spinning. The water appears to be coming into the airlifts quite fast, but I haven't been able to hook it up to the ultrasonic flow meters yet.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Zac Penn View Post
      Honestly there is no way to tell right now, but at 80 LPM I would guess it to be somewhere in the 5000+ gph range based on how crazy those bubble tornados are spinning. The water appears to be coming into the airlifts quite fast, but I haven't been able to hook it up to the ultrasonic flow meters yet.
      Guestimates don't count man, lol



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    11. #11
      hp is online now Supporting Member
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      Can we estimate the flow based on gravity flow calculation between the RDF and reservoir tank? we should know the connection pipe diameter and elevation different, yeh?

      hp.

      Quote Originally Posted by Zac Penn View Post
      Honestly there is no way to tell right now, but at 80 LPM I would guess it to be somewhere in the 5000+ gph range based on how crazy those bubble tornados are spinning. The water appears to be coming into the airlifts quite fast, but I haven't been able to hook it up to the ultrasonic flow meters yet.

    12. #12
      Zac Penn is offline Supporting Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by jimfish98 View Post
      Guestimates don't count man, lol
      Why can't I play the false advertising game????

      Quote Originally Posted by hp View Post
      Can we estimate the flow based on gravity flow calculation between the RDF and reservoir tank? we should know the connection pipe diameter and elevation different, yeh?

      hp.

      There would be a huge variant on the flow rate with even a 1/16" inaccuracy in the measurement with two 4" pipes that are only 4" long total. Plus, I don't really think any of the charts/calculators would be super accurate anyways.

      I went back and looked at a previous Super Secret Bio-Filter test that had water elevation marks on it and it was hooked up to the flow meters at 6600 GPH. There was a 7/16" difference between two of the chambers at 6600 GPH, and there is only a 1/4" difference when I measured it today. I would say we are closer to 4000-4500 GPH right now at 80 LPM, which is CRAZY BAD efficiency compared to other airlifts that I have made. I kind of figured it would not perform very well because the cross sectional area of the airlift riser tube is 15" x 4" = 45 sq/in. In the past I was using between 20-35 LPM in a 3" riser tube which is a cross-sectional area of 7.06 sq/in. 45 / 7.06 = 6.37 times the area. That should be fed with between 127-223 LPM of air to have the same density as my old airlifts.

      The problem with that in this setup is fitting the inlet pipes into that space and it would flow around 15,000 GPH based on previous setups so that wouldn't work with this demonstration. I really just wanted to make this clear riser tube for fun and to grab peoples attention at show.
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    13. #13
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      Wheeeeeeee! Go airlifts!!
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    14. #14
      Zac Penn is offline Supporting Member
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      Here are a couple teaser pictures of a new airlift manifold I am tinkering with...
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      These will be a replacement to my original Funnel Shaped airlift manifolds that were amazing at pumping water, but they were near impossible to manufacture in house. I had to use 2-part resins and rubber molds, and it was a disaster most of the time. Once i get the shape worked out I am going to make them out of clear PVC so you can see what is going on inside of them.
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    15. #15
      Zac Penn is offline Supporting Member
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      You guys are killing me. I can't believe the teaser pics haven't struck up a conversation yet. I hope to have something more finalized on display in Orlando but I was hoping for at least a little encouragement to move the airlift conversation forward.

      On another note...Just for fun I removed my rectangular air diffuser in the clear riser tube display and instead of having it sit flat on the bottom of the riser tube so that it was 4" x 15", I rotated it 90 degrees to simulate a horizontal pipe with a bunch of holes drilled in it, to see what would happen. The total water flow through the system dropped at least in half because there was just too much open area for the bubbles to move around. Half of the bubbles were going up and half were going down due to all the turbulence. If a rectangular riser tube was going to be used then you need to make it super thin in order to keep those air bubbles moving upward instead of going around in circles. I would venture a guess and say that the riser tube would need to be 15" x 2" to get back to the same water flow as the horizontal diffuser with a 15" x 4" riser tube. This all goes back to my constant reminder that bubble distribution is EXTREMELY important in a well designed airlift manifold. Think about that the next time watch a video of the Yamabuki airlift manifold where all the air bubbles are released around the perimeter of the riser tube. The center 3" diameter of the pipe is just solid water at the injection site so there is a ton of turbulence right away.
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    16. #16
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      Zac, I don't even know enough about air lifts to even know what to say. I'm just going to hope I can figure it out after visiting your booth.

    17. #17
      Zac Penn is offline Supporting Member
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      No promises my friend!!!!! Airlifts are VERY simple things, but optimization is quite complicated and deeply debated. I am one of the most vocally opinionated people when it comes to optimization so maybe I can teach you some things or maybe I can confuse you even more

      Either way I can't wait to meet you in person!
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    18. #18
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      I WILL see you at the show~!
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    19. #19
      Zac Penn is offline Supporting Member
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      Well it was great seeing people at the koi show and spending WAYYY too much time talking about airlifts with Luke, Mickey, John and Stephen. I even got to hang out with the famous Kent Wallace in my booth for a bit. We were talking airlifts and I was complimenting him on his new radial separator design.

      I debuted a new funnel type airlift manifold at the show and it seemed to get a good reception, but as with everything there were certain aspects that just weren't to my liking yet.


      The first version had the injection manifold welded to the support base, which was made with clear PVC so you could see what was going on inside the diffuser. The pressure chamber was made of a 5/8" tall piece of 6" Sch 80 pic pipe. This was done out of necessity as I didn't have anything made up for a thermoformed piece yet. As you can see the straight walls of the pressure chamber would create turbulence and it could possibly collect some heavy debris around the base which I wanted to change. I hadn't run this in an actual system so i don't know for sure if debris would collect but either way i wanted to fix it. The other issue I had with this design is that the diffuser could only be accessed from one side for cleaning. This is probably a non-issue but just one more thing I wanted to change.


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      So I went back to the drawing board and decided to make a new thermoform jig for the pressure chamber. Have I said that I have been spending WAAAAYYYYY too much time playing with airlifts lately? Luckily i have three clients I have been talking to about designing their mostly airlift powered ponds, so hopefully this time will pay off in contracts. With a new jig made and many drilling templates created I have come to a design that I really like, but the performance is yet to be determined.

      The piece on the left is the actual airlift base with a foam rubber o-ring that makes the seal between the pressure chamber and the base.
      The clear piece on the right is the actual pressure chamber with a 3/8" ID x 1/2" OD vinyl tube glued into the chamber. The tube extends almost to the center and is angled down to force the air into the bottom of the chamber and then bring it up in the center of the diffuser.

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      This is the bottom side of the diffuser

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      The four central screw holes are used to mount the pressure chamber to the base and provide an initial clamping force on the o-ring.

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      The funnel is then screwed down in the four corners to complete the seal on the o-ring and stabilize the whole manifold on the base. I am using a standard 4" pipe nipple welded onto the funnel so a Fernco connector can be used to secure the riser tube to the funnel. I was going to use a coupler cut in half so it was a socket, but I didn't want there to be a gap between the socket and riser tube which would cause turbulence. You wouldn't want to glue the riser tube into the socket anyways so it would be **** near impossible to dry fit the riser tube into the socket without a gap, and good luck getting it out Fernco's are cheap and they allow the pipe to butt up right next to each other and provide as close to a gap free connection as possible.

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      The 1/8 circle opening on the four sides have the same open area as a 5" PVC pipe so there will not be any flow restriction caused by the openings, and the turbulence should be minimal in the corners. I tried to make the corners as small as possible while still making it structurally sound. I am able to stand on top of the manifold without it flexing very much and I have no fear of it breaking even when I bounce up and down. Sure, if i jumped on it I could break it but what kind of abuse do you think these things will be exposed to sitting at the bottom of a filter chamber?

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      Here you can see the air tube going into the pressure chamber

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      This is the view looking up to the riser tube above the diffuser.

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      I will be water testing these soon and have a great idea on a display tank but I have other filters to build and projects that need to ship. Airlifts are not even close to a money making venture, but it is a great passion of mine so hopefully you guys enjoy the show.
      Last edited by Zac Penn; 03-28-2019 at 02:53 PM.
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    20. #20
      Zac Penn is offline Supporting Member
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      I got the prototype water tested today and I am quite happy with the way things are working out. I built a viewing tank with a clear PVC front but I should have painted the inside of the tank white so it wasn't so dark in there. Maybe I will do that next time. I made the tank 72" tall so I could test out submergence up to 66" with at least a 6" lift and she just purred like a kitten at the submergence. I have no idea what kind of flow rates were being achieved but I will be building a complete test tank so i can verify my ultrasonic flow meter results and see how close actual flow rates are to the measured flow rate by the meter. If they are close then I can eliminate the test tank setup and just use the ultrasonic flow meter for flow results.

      I even got some 4" clear PVC pipe to use as the riser tube so i could see what the bubbles were doing inside the pipe. I took some slow motion videos but it may be a while before they get uploaded.

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