Round Rock man gets award for creating low-cost water well drill

Williamson County
Russell Crawford, Patents for Humanity Award winner

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — A retired contractor from Round Rock is a Patents for Humanity Award winner. Russell Crawford invented a drill that helps bring water to people in parts of the world that need it most.

He already has several patents under his belt, but he thinks his most recent will make a big difference. KXAN’s Sydney Benter sat down with Crawford to talk about the patent and his One Million Wells initiative:

Q: “First tell me about the patent. How long have you been working on it?” 
A: “In 2015 I started thinking about it again when I understood that there were so many people dying in Africa and India and South America and there was no reason for them to . . . The way to do it was drill reverse flow instead of direct circulation. One, water goes down the drill stem and comes up the outside. The other one the water goes down the outside and comes up the drill stem.” 

Q: “Did it surprise you there wasn’t already something out there like this?” 
A: “There’s a mathematical and engineering problem with the airlift reverse flow. You have to have a certain percentage submersion of the airline in order to get the drill to work . . . I think I’ve resolved that and it’s working real well.” 

Q: “So what’s this been like? Is it really rewarding?” 
A: “The biggest reward was when I made my first trip to India because they’d drilled a few wells before I got there. A young girl there . . . she was so excited that we had drilled her a well, she wanted to grab my hand and take me in and meet her mother and feed me breakfast.” 

Crawford’s goal is to help dig one million wells, hence the name of his charity: One Million Wells. He’s reduced the cost of drilling and uses inexpensive materials for the systems. It costs about $2,000 to complete a manually powered drilling system and an entire community can use the same rig to drill dozens of wells.

Crawford will be honored with other Patents for Humanity recipients in Washington D.C. in November. 
 

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