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Old 09-12-2008, 11:46 PM   #1
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Last week after some very serious shopping for watermakers, I decided that I would build my own. On many other occasions in the past this idea has crossed my mind, but I always told myself that I’m too busy with work to take-on such a project. Well, this time I’ve made-up my mind! I’m going to build a “hybrid” watermaker….yes, a hybrid.

After looking closely at the various commercial units, performing some thorough research on component suppliers, tossing and turning at night trying to decide between AC or DC, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can build my own hybrid AC-DC watermaker for less than even the cheapest commercial watermaker. My hybrid watermaker will have two separate high pressure water supply circuits…one driven by a 1/2hp DC motor and Hydra Cell 0.9gpm pump and the other driven by a 2hp AC motor and a 316Ti Triplex 4.0gpm pump.

The DC circuit will draw between 400 and 500 Watts to produce 9-14 gallons per hour. My solar system should be capable of 400 – 420 Watts and therefore on sunny days I’ll be making water the quiet and efficient way. The cost of the DC motor and Hydra Cell pump is just over $900.

The AC circuit will draw between 2 and 2.5kW driven by my 3.5kW generator to produce 40-50 gallons per hour using about 2/10 of a gallon of diesel. The cost of the AC motor and Triplex pump is approximately $800.

The two high pressure systems will feed into the same series configuration of two 2.5” x 21” membrane pressure vessels using a simple diverter valve. Without getting fancy with electronics, I’m pretty sure I can build the entire system for under $3000.

So that is my plan…it should take me a few months to collect all the parts and then I’ll take pictures and report on the progress. Any suggestions are welcome!
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Old 09-13-2008, 03:04 AM   #2
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Hi Ken,

Absolutely agree that keeping it simple with easily sources components is the way go.

I will PM you with the website of a pal of mine who makes these for Yachts calling in to LangKawi on the West Coast of Malaysia - obviously you wouldn't want import from there - but a contact with him could be useful for your project.

In the meantime here is a snap-shot of his schematic. His midi size produces 60 gph +

:- waterflowschematics.gif
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Old 09-13-2008, 04:40 AM   #3
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Good luck with this very interesting project. Please do keep us posted on its progress.

I have a Katadyn 160 water-maker that draws 16 a at 12 V. A hybrid seems to me a very sensible approach especially if you dock in places with electricity and no water or if you have and run a genset.

Keep in mind that when a motor starts it draws much more current then you would deduce from its rating in watts.
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Old 09-13-2008, 05:17 AM   #4
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During my long drive back to Long Beach in Friday traffic, I came up with a really interesting idea in which a single high pressure pump is shared by both an AC and DC motor. I will have to share the concept later in which the PM DC motor acts as a DC generator while the AC motor drives the pump.>>Very interesting concept.
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Old 09-15-2008, 09:18 PM   #5
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During my long drive back to Long Beach in Friday traffic, I came up with a really interesting idea in which a single high pressure pump is shared by both an AC and DC motor. I will have to share the concept later in which the PM DC motor acts as a DC generator while the AC motor drives the pump.>>Very interesting concept.
Hi Trim,

I'm very interested in your design. You are certainly the first I've heard of who has proposed a Hybrid watermaker. I originally built my own engine driven watermaker on my boat with the 40-50 gph rate in mind but I needed two SW2540 membranes to accomplish that rate. I'm curious as to your rate with two 21" membranes. Watermakers are kind of a weird hobby of mine, I've gone through the gambit from concept, design and build and even ended up a Roving Rep for Spectra watermakers. I'd love to see any drawings or photos of your progress.
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Old 09-15-2008, 10:19 PM   #6
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Yep...I determined this weekend that I would need the 40 as well to get to 40gph after talking to a couple of guys from Village Marine at the boat show.

Being a roving rep for Spectra, what is your experience/insight with energy recovery pumps or hydraulic intensifiers for water making. We use hydraulic intensifiers quite a bit at my job and I know we spend huge amounts on seal replacements every 3 - 4 months...granted we are running much higher pressures. Nonetheless, seems like you would have to deal with the same issues no matter.
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Old 09-15-2008, 11:19 PM   #7
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Hiya Trim,

Since departing our marina berth on St Thomas nearly four months ago - we have halved our water consumption and our 200 gal tanks now provide well over four weeks between stops to take on water. I'm sure we've spent little more than $40 ~ $50 dollars for water so far... where water is somewhat scarce.

That equals $200 per year or $2000 for a ten year voyage.

Based on that - I reckon we could cruise for ten years at a water cost equalling a fraction of the cost of even the most basic watermaker. And adding rain catching systems is already paying dividends.

I too am working out the final installation details of our engine driven, 40 gph watermaker which I am piecing together and already have well over four grand invested.

So - I;m beginning to question the wisdon of such a large investment which adds a lot of maintenance to keep it happy... when water (at the moment) is so readily available at such a low cost... if not free. Water seems to be readily availabe at nearly every dock in every port at minimal cost.

It's now been five weeks since our last water fill-up since adding water catchers. And I'm beginning to wonder if the effort & cost of a watermaker in even necessary after all. I've just had good downpour overflow our tanks in about 20 minutes!

Frankly - I believe a watermaker will ONLY be necessary during extended stops at remote atolls and at our rate of consumption for three people, we can easily make the Panama run to the Marquesas without even needing to carry extra water jugs.

I only hope that I come to feel that our investment of time & money seems worth the effort.

To Life!

Kirk
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Old 09-15-2008, 11:28 PM   #8
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If you knew how much water I can carry, you'd laugh at my even considering building a watermaker
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Old 09-16-2008, 12:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trim50 View Post
Yep...I determined this weekend that I would need the 40 as well to get to 40gph after talking to a couple of guys from Village Marine at the boat show.

Being a roving rep for Spectra, what is your experience/insight with energy recovery pumps or hydraulic intensifiers for water making. We use hydraulic intensifiers quite a bit at my job and I know we spend huge amounts on seal replacements every 3 - 4 months...granted we are running much higher pressures. Nonetheless, seems like you would have to deal with the same issues no matter.
I knew you might need more membrane to get the 40+ gph. Now the question is are you sticking with two 21" vessels and one more 40" vessel? If space is not the issue the cost would be cheaper with two 40" vessels/membranes. Spectras intensifier (the Clark pump) is very reliable and with proper care will last a long time. I just rebuilt a 12 year old Santa Cruz unit with the original Clark pump which was mounted in the anchor locker of a 45' catamaran. It wasn't pretty, but even though the pressures were lower than specs and the membrane was very old it still made water. The Clark pump generates up to 800 pounds of head pressure probably no where near the industrial pressures you use and the seals on a Clark for the most part are simple O-rings which, from what I gather from your experiance, you could easily replace with three or four common hand tools. If you were replacing seals on the Clark pump every 3-4 months something would be really wrong. I've restarted Spectras that sat for two years without being pickled, even though the membranes and filters were shot the pump worked perfectly.

Energy recovery type watermakers are great for those with amp issues. But it sounds like you have a generator so that makes a difference on deciding what kind of watermaker to build. But there are a lot of issues to decide before building a watermaker, I found out after building mine that bigger is not always better.
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Old 09-16-2008, 03:28 PM   #10
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I have two polar opposite friends that I gather insight and "Cruising Wisdom" from. Both are very successful cruisers. One is a power boater who has lived on his vessel all his life and relies on a strict maintenance schedule to sustain multiple gensets and a large Village Marine watermaker. He just spent 3 years in Central America without plugging into shorepower for over 7 months. My other primary source of information is a sailor that just returned from a 3 year circumnavigation. He relies on solar and a Spectra watermaker. He does not believe a sailing vessel needs a genset, but admits that it would have been nice to have.

I have a 3.5kW genset that I installed and it works great, however it does make more noise than I would have hoped and it doesn't like to be fully loaded. It seems to run smoothest at 2.5kW which means I can only do one AC task at a time...heat water or make Amps or make water. I won't be doing any of the three tasks at the same time.

I plan to install at least 400Watts of solar in the next 6 months. The company I work for is planning to import German cells and to build solar panels, so hopefully I will have easy access to lots of solar in the near future...otherwise I plan to buy Mitsubishi CIS 205W panels for the bimini. I'm even considering a wind generator in combination with the solar.

So, you can probably see why I would want to build a two circuit system. The details of the type of DC pump to use are still being debated as I know an intensifier is more efficient, but I was concerned about cost and reliability. As far as the pressure vessels go, Id probably get two 40s if I forced into having to use the longer membranes.

Tellie - If you were to build your own system knowing what you know today, what would you do and what pump system would you use?
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Old 09-18-2008, 12:58 PM   #11
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That's a great question Trim. I could write 10 pages here on what I'd do different and what I'd keep the same and why. I'll try to keep it short. As I said I'm a Roving Rep. for Spectra so this might sound a little like a sales pitch for them but it is not. If I were to build another system it would be around a inntensifier pump with one SW2540 membrane. When I first decided to outfit my boat for long term cruising I wanted to be as energy idependant as possible if not completly. That's why I decided on building an engine driven unit. Cost of course was factor and I heard that I could build my own cheaper than buying a pre-made one. I kept pretty good records of time and materials. My material cost was $3400 which included mistakes and the hidden costs that will creep up. My time spent hunting all the parts down and gathering them from different places was about 40 hours. Waiting for parts like the Yanmar PTO, the proper 12V clutch, the custom manufactur of a solid high pressure pump motor mount bracket etc. and the return of the wrong delivered parts added another 15 hours and six weeks waiting time. My research time on the interenet and going to the local watermaker companies here and picking their brains easily went into 50 hours. I had to haul the boat to install a dedicated thru hull. I had to re-do the bottom paint and some sail drive work anyway so I didn't included the haul out costs. Another 20 hours to install and work out the kinks and my engine driven watermaker was up and running. In retrospect I could have bought a basic Spectra with an upgrade to a 40" membrane for a little over $5000. and installed it in 10 hours. I don't know that the $1500 savings was worth my time investeted. But I can make far more water than any starter unit on the market. Being a stubborn Swede I blew off the experts when they said bigger is not always better. I wanted water and lots of it and that's just what I got. I used a Cat pump and two SW2540s that makes about 40 gph. Watermakers like to be run and run fairly often. In order not to have to pickle my watermaker I run it every three to four days for two to three hours. I make at least 100 gallons each run. Even topping off my tanks, which I don't like to do, showers, washdown equipment and deck I end up dumping product over board more often than not. The simple solution was to eliminate one of the SW2540 and cut my production in half. Before this gets too long I'm going to send it and start another post to continue on with the new set of problems I came across with the drive system.
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Old 09-18-2008, 06:00 PM   #12
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This is very interesting, because I have a very real third option close at hand which would be an engine driven unit. The reason this option make sense for me is that I removed an engine driven refrigeration compressor and I still have the sturdy compressor mount and two belt pulley installed. I also already have the dedicated thru-hulls installed. I could very easily buy a CAT pump, a clutch and install them in one weekend.
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Old 09-18-2008, 09:59 PM   #13
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This is very interesting, because I have a very real third option close at hand which would be an engine driven unit. The reason this option make sense for me is that I removed an engine driven refrigeration compressor and I still have the sturdy compressor mount and two belt pulley installed. I also already have the dedicated thru-hulls installed. I could very easily buy a CAT pump, a clutch and install them in one weekend.
Then you're way ahead of the game already. The things that became a concern for me that I didn't figure on was first, side load on the engines main crank shaft bearing. A Cat pump will require more horsepower than a refer compressor does. Having a large alternator on the opposite side does help. My Yanmars are 2GMs and I have an 80amp alternator opposite of the Cat pump. I'm not sure this off sets the load enough and I have spoked to Yanmar and they have claimed some bearing problems due to heavy and uneven loading. Second is RPMs, most Cat pumps are going to want to be run at 1750rpms. Diesel engines are not properly loaded at that range and can suffer carbon build up. If you can create the proper pully ratio that would solve that problem. My little two lungers are then over worked if I try to motor sail and make water at the same time. I would think an engine with about 40 hp or above would be a more realistic HP range to accomplish both propulsion and watermaking. You may have that. I also noticed that any rough running of my engine would be amplified if I was makeing water in the form of shaking. Third, if I'm makeing water for two hours I'm running the engine which means of course I have to be there. A bit inconvienant. This is where an electric watermaker really comes in handy.

More to come.........<G>
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Old 09-19-2008, 08:36 PM   #14
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Well, I have a Ford Lehman 85hp engine which very much likes 1750 rpm and I have a 100amp alt on the opposite side. My only concern is the noise from a CAT pump.

Even if I did buildout an engine driven unit, I would still want a DC or AC watermaking circuit....probably DC.
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