The Trompe

With zero moving parts, a trompe needs only water and gravity to capture clean, cool, compressed air. The trompe served mankind for centuries. Unfortunately, its simple design has been all but forgotten in recent years.

Historically, miners created large-scale trompes to power their mining equipment and provided ventilation. A 350-feet-deep trompe in Michigan was recorded to produce 5,000 horsepower. Small-scale trompes could prove just as useful.

Suction created at the trompe’s intake drags air bubbles down with falling water. The bubbles then escape into a holding chamber as cool, dehumidified, pressurized air. Trompes can run large machinery, refrigerate, oxygenate water, and much more.

Articles about Trompes

Trompes are our current research project at Lost Technology. If you have any questions or information about trompes and their application, feel free to contact us.

The Trompe: A Basic Overview
Researching The Trompe: Gathering Literature
Researching The Trompe: Creating a Model
Researching The Trompe: Finding Modern-World Applications (coming soon)
History of the Trompe (coming soon)
Science of the Trompe
Why Expanding Air Cools: Joule-Thomson Coefficient (coming soon)
Ragged Chutes: The World’s Largest Trompe (coming soon)
Trompes in Permaculture (coming soon)
Refrigerating with a Trompe (coming soon)
Can Trompes Power Cars? (coming soon)
How Trompes Revive Polluted Water (coming soon)
The Hammer Trompe (coming soon)
The Pulser Pipe (coming soon)
How To Make Your Own Trompe (coming soon)


coming soon


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Trompe Researchers & Proponents

Geoff Lawton, Director of The Permaculture Research Institute (Australia & USA)
Bruce Leavitt (1950-2013), mining hydrogeologist
Bill Mollison (1928-2016), Founder of The Permaculture Institute
Warren Rice (1925-2009), professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Arizona State University
Charles Taylor (1859-1953), Canadian trompe engineer
Mr. Teslonian, engineer and youtuber, designed the trompe hammer
Brian White, stonemason, designed the pulser pipe
Esther Davis, head of, mechanical engineering student

Google Books

  • Compressed Air, Volume 4 (1900) (view post)
  • “Hydraulic Engineering: A Treatise on the Properties, Power and Resources of Water for All Purposes” by Gardner Dexter Hiscox (view post)
  • “The Useful Metals and Their Alloys” by John Scoffern (view post)
  • “Air Compression and Transmission” by Halsten Joseph Berford Thorkelson (view post)
  • “Hydropower Developments: New Projects, Rehabilitation, and Power Recovery” By IMechE (Institution of Mechanical Engineers)(view on Google Books)
  • “Hydraulic research in the United States and Canada, Issue 497” By United States National Bureau of Standards (view on Google Books)

Other Books

  • Bond, A. Russel (1939). The Story of Mechanics. New York: P. F. Collier & Son Corporation. pp. 90–93.
  • Illustrated description of the Taylor Hydraulic Air Compressor (view post)
  • Mollison, Bill. Permaculture: a Designer’s Manual (see pg. 505 and Fig 13.40)

External Links

Bill Mollison’s explanations of trompe (video)
Brian White on small-scale trompes (article)
“Trompe”, Wikipedia
Basic trompe description by John Kitstiener
“Harness Hydro Power with a Trompe,” by John R. Hunt; Mother Earth News
Creating Micro-Bubbles with Trompes
History of Ragged Chutes
Victoria Mine’s Taylor Compressor (Trompe)
Modern Trompe Research – UDMN’s Hydraulic Air Compressor (HAC) Demostration; Laurentian University Research Newsletter; Laurentian University Press Release
The Trompe and Isothermal Compression – Can Frontier Technology From the 1800s Boost the Efficiency of Today’s Air Compressors?
“Mollison Trompe – Alternate Energy” forum discussion;
“Looking for Cheap Trompe Design” forum discussion;
The Pulser Pump–designed by Brian White (article) (video) (Air Entrainment Hook explanation, physics explanation) (Pulser Pump Wikipedia Article)(Appropedia)
Passive water treatment via trompe–headed by Bruce Leavitt (video of presentation by Bruce Leavitt)(video by US Department of the Interior) (news article)
Trompe Hammer–designed by Mr. Teslonian (part 1: design) (part 2: test)
Guy Negre’s Air-Powered Car (video) (Zero Pollution Motors – American Branch) (Motor Development International – Parent Company)
Air-Powered Motorcycle (article)