Ctesibio: Greek Inventor and Father of Pneumatics
We consider Ctesibius (285-222 B.C.) who was a great Greek inventor and mathematician the father of pneumatics.
With one of his great inventions he has laid the foundations for our current work: Ctesibio’s Pump. Also known as the Fire Extinguishing Pump and described both in Vitruvio’s “De architectura” Book X and in the writings of Heron of Alexandria.
Ctesibio’s Pump, of which there is a fairly well-preserved unit in the National Archaeological Museum, consists of a pump equipped with 4 valves and two chambers or pistons that pump water at high pressure through an adjustable nozzle. It is easy to interpret that this operating scheme corresponds directly to the mechanism used in a modern double diaphragm pneumatic pump.
Therefore, we can proudly point out that the pumping machines we use today were invented more than 2,000 years ago by the mind of a great inventor – Ctesibio!
How does the Ctesibio pump work?
Ctesibio had such an advanced knowledge of hydraulics that he conceived the need for the use of valves that when combined in pairs, produces the suction of the water in an alternating pattern, and then managed to increase the pressure of the fluid by direct action and push it very long distances. This made the invention very useful for fire extinguishing work, and serviceable as well for evacuation of water in mines.
These valves utilized an alternate opening and closing movement generated by the fluid pressure balance in addition to maintaining a dynamic seal to prevent the pump from losing prime or pressure, which required great mastery in its manufacture.
- The pump consists of two cylindrical bronze tanks, which are internally machined to match two pistons. The cylinders are connected below with the intermediate pressure chamber which is equipped with two valves that control the fluid flow from the cylindrical tanks to the central pressure chamber.
- In the base of each of the cylinders a circular hole is formed and equipped with a check valve with polished mating surfaces to guarantee water tightness in their closed position. They have a welded rod that serves as guide and stop for the moving parts of this valve.
- The center of the pistons are connected with vertical rods that are attached to a transverse beam which pivots at its center. The attachment of the beam to its pivot point, as well as the connection of the vertical pistons with this beam is done by means of pins.
- From the central pressure chamber there is another vertical tube that channels the pressurized water towards the outside and that can rotate to allow a control of the direction of the jet.
The Ctesibio Pump and our current Double diaphragm pneumatic pump: SAMOA Directflo
The same idea is used today in a double diaphragm pneumatics pumps manufactured all over the world, including at Samoa Industrial.
It can be said that there is an evolution of the materials used, but the idea that makes them work remains the same as that described by Ctesibio more than 2,000 years ago.
The operation of the valves together with the alternating movement of two pistons driven by wooden bars by the force of man causes water to enter the chamber between the two valves of each suction line.
This description, more than 2,000 years old, still applies to the operating characteristics of the double diaphragm pneumatic pumps with internal flow developed by SAMOA INDUSTRIAL and commercially known as “Direct Flo”.
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