MEng student, Jon Leary, from the University of Sheffield's Department of Mechanical Engineering, designed the bicycle-powered water pump as part of his dissertation which required him to ‘make something useful out of rubbish’.

Jon spent four months in Guatemala working with the Guatemalan NGO Maya Pedal to improve the design for the mobile bicycle-powered water pump. Maya Pedal’s aim is to produce machines which can improve the daily lives of locals, without them having to resort to expensive electrical or environmentally damaging fossil fuelled machines. Their machines, which are human-powered sustainable energy sources, range from the bicilavadora (bicycle washing machine) to the bicimolino (corn grinder).

Jon created the machine using a normal bike, which is plugged into a frame with an old electrical pump converted to a friction drive attached to the back wheel. The back tyre of the bike makes direct contact with the former armature of the motor, which is covered with rubber from an old tyre to give better grip. The machine was tested to a range of heights and on flat ground the pump can achieve a 40 litres per minute flow rate - equal to about three normal showers. At 26 metres, a flow rate of 5 litres per minute can be achieved.

Dr Steve Bradbury from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield said: “It is gratifying to see that the design expertise that we foster in our students can be utilised in worthy projects such as this. It is a result where everybody wins; Jon, the University and most importantly, the people of Guatamala.”