Inventor John Newby wanted to find the plant irrigation system which would use the least possible amounts of energy and water. Newby developed several patented water delivery systems which he once demonstrated to the author in person, and he sent several models to the author over the last few years of his life.
In the compressed-air-powered pump on the right, there are three containers which can be long tubes, for instance. The upper one can hold planters, fish, or both. The middle one is for overflow water and is connected to each of the other containers by tubes (the connection to the lower container has a one-way valve).
The lower container receives the compressed air. As the air pushes out the water (which goes up the tube on the far right), the small bucket attached to a flexible hose empties of water, and air goes up the tube. When that happens, the pressure lowers in the container, and water flows down the siphon tube, which connects the top and bottom containers and is shown on the left.
The Minimum Fluid Technique (MFT) is an offshoot of the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT). The basic concept of the NFT system was first developed by Dr. Allen Cooper in 1970, in England. One advantage of the MFT system is that it can be turned off with no liquid flow for hours. The NFT system must run constantly.
While experimenting with incorporating his basic water pump into the NFT system, Newby conceived of the idea of supporting the stems of the plant by inserting the plant between water-filled tubes, and thus also reducing evaporation around the roots. The idea worked, resulting in a simple, reliable, inexpensive, easily-maintained, low-pressure, air-operated hydroponic pumping system. The system can be solar-powered without the need for batteries.
John C. Newby, was a retired U.S. Navy veteran and held patents for the basic pump (#5662459, 1977) and for an adaptation (#5813839, 1998) which runs on steam generated within the pump assembly (as a heat engine requiring only water and fire to run). Another patent (#5860247, 1999) covers the basic pump incorporated into an ebb and flow system, as animated on the previous screen.
In addition, Mr. Newby had patents applied for, for NFT and MFT hydroponics systems and for several diaphragm pumps and pump/valve combinations.
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