Researching the Trompe: Creating a Model

Up until the 20th century, trompes were large structures dug into the earth. Small-scale trompes were impractical because of the high cost of small piping.

Now we have easy access to small pipes, such as PVC pipes. Small-scale trompes are simple.

To demonstrate the possibility of small scale trompes, my brother and I fashioned a simple trompe out of $50 worth of supplies from the hardware store. We used a 5-gallon cooler, PVC piping (1/2-inch and 1-inch diameter), drinking straws, the top half of a 2-liter soda bottle, and sealant.

The original design had an intake pipe 50-inches high and an outtake pipe 48-inches high. We later cut the outtake pipe to 40-inches to reduce pressure on the sealant.

The horizontal pipe that passed through the cooler had holes drilled on both the upward facing side and the downward side. We also placed a straw through one whole to act as a splash plate.

For simplicity, we used water from a house-side faucet to run the trompe. We attached the head (made from the cut soda bottle and drinking straws) with duct tape.

One it’s first run, the pressure building up inside the trompe blew out the sealant tape before we could measure the pressure. We applied aquarium glue as the sealant and tested again after the sealant had 48 hours to harden.

On the second run, we attached a balloon to the cooler’s nozzle. After the trompe ran for 30 seconds, we opened the air pipe and the air pressure from inside the trompe filled up the balloon.

It works!

The main problem we encountered while building the trompe model was creating water-tight seals. The water leaked from the holes in the cooler and from the lid. However, the nozzle area appeared to remain airtight.

The next step is creating a more carefully constructed trompe so that we can test the many variables that go into a trompe’s efficiency.

Related Articles

Researching the Trompe: Gathering Literature
Researching the Trompe: Finding Modern-World Application (coming soon)

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