Gold Medal Criterion #4
Safety is of our upmost concern when thinking about the application of our GMO. To make sure our PET-degrading microbe can be safely used we have modified a hydraulic ram pump which will house our microbe. Hydraulic ram pumps were invented as a way to pump water to livestock without the use of power. They have the ability to raise water to considerable elevation without the use of an external power source. Instead, it uses pressure generated from a “water hammer” shock wave. In a ram pump, water enters the pump at one point and exerts water at two points. The first place is exerts water is through a “waste valve.” Through this valve, water is typically lost as it is not lifted to a higher elevation. The other exit point for water is what lifts water to a higher elevation. The ram pump is meant to work with a constant water supply however we have attached a bucket to the inlet pipe to act as the course of water for our pump. We have also adjusted the ram pump so the pipe that initially exerted water at a higher elevation will be fed back to the bucket the inlet pipe is connected to. This will effectively allow water to go through multiple cycles in the ram pump in turn giving the PETase sufficient time to be expressed and degrade microplastics. The creation of this modified ram pump will keep our GMO in a closed system. The ram pump requires no electricity or external power source, is relatively easy to maintain, and operates continuously until the water supply is diminished. It also has the ability to be scaled up and used at wastewater facilities as an extension to help reduce microfibers and has many other possible applications.
1.Initially water flows through the drive pipe and out of the "waste" valve
2.The momentum from the water slams the valve shut causing the water's momentum to suddenly stop. This creates a high pressure spike (seen by red arrows) that is released at the inlet of the drive pipe. The closure of the waste valve forces water through the check valve
3. After the high pressure spike reaches the inlet a normal pressure wave (seen by green arrows) travels back into the pipe
4.When the normal pressure wave reaches the waste valve, a low pressure wave (seen by brown arrows) travels up the drive pipe. This lowers the pressure at both valves causing the waste valve to open and the check valve to close
5.After the low pressure wave reaches the inlet of the drive pipe, a normal pressure wave travels back down the drive pipe and the cycle restarts
The image above is of the actual ram pump created and tested