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Design and Testing of a Low-Cost and Low-Maintenance Drip Irrigation Filtration System for Micro-Irrigation in Developing Countries

[+] Author Affiliations
Alison Greenlee, Timothy Murray, Victor Lesniewski, Mark Jeunnette, Amos G. Winter, V

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Paper No. DETC2014-35351, pp. V004T06A050; 9 pages
  • ASME 2014 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4: 19th Design for Manufacturing and the Life Cycle Conference; 8th International Conference on Micro- and Nanosystems
  • Buffalo, New York, USA, August 17–20, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4635-3
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


The cylindrical filters presently used in <1000 m2 drip irrigation systems are frequently clogged, increasing pressure loss and lowering the flow rate through the filters. This work investigates the mechanisms for this clogging and proposes an alternative filtration design that would enable both more reliable and lower maintenance filtering. This proposed system is compatible with existing drip irrigation systems and could be made inexpensively with plastic bottle manufacturing equipment. To compare the proposed design to off-the-shelf options, a drip irrigation test setup was built to measure the pressure loss across different filters as particles accumulated. These experiments confirmed that pleated cartridge filters, with high effective surface area, incurred lower pressure losses than cylindrical filters. These tests revealed that the greatest reason for clogged performance was that filtered particles (not the cartridge filter itself) eventually restricted the flow of water through the system. This inspired the redesign of the filter housing such that the housing extended far below the filter, providing a catch basin away from the filter for the particles to settle. Fixing the filter independently of the bottom casing significantly improved the overall performance of the filtration system, reduced the maintenance requirement necessary from the user, and would enable inexpensive manufacturing via blow molding. This paper experimentally demonstrates that the cartridge filter inside the redesigned housing can filter out over 2 kg of sand while maintaining less than a .03 bar pressure drop across the filter at a flow rate of 25 l/s.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME



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