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For the illusionary art technique, see Trompe-l'œil A trompe is a water-powered air compressor commonly used before electric-powered compressors. A trompe is like an airlift pump working in reverse.

Tromps were used to provide compressed air for blast furnaces (Spain and USA). In Paris, they were used for a time to compress air to drive their first electricity generation scheme and in the Alps, they were used in France and Switzerland to provide compressed air for early alpine tunnels. These tromps were enormous. At Ragged Chutes water fell down a shaft 351 feet (105 metres) deep and nine feet (2.7m) across to generate the compressed air for mining equipment and ventilation.


Tromps are very simple devices that consist of a vertical pipe or shaft going down to a separation chamber, a pipe coming away from that chamber to allow the water to exit at a lower level and another pipe coming from the chamber to allow the compressed air to exit as needed.

Water rushing down the vertical pipe sucks air with it and as the air goes down the pipe it gets pressurized. The compressed air gets trapped in the separation chamber for use as a power source.

Trompes were typically situated at high waterfalls so that plenty of power was avalilable. The Ragged Chutes plant on the Montreal River near the town of Cobalt, is a trompe and tourist attraction. It is now owned by Canadian Hydro and exists beside a modern hydroelectric plant.

  • The Ragged Chutes macine in Cobalt Ontario. Uses a 17 meter head. (retrieved April 21 2007)
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Trompe". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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