April 11, 2024

 This Lamp May Generate Electricity

While
electricity is a commodity we all enjoy, bills can get rather
expensive. But, if you can’t afford gas, or want to keep your bills low,
what can you do? You can use this:

An ordinary handheld lamp, which requires no fuel.

Designed by the brother-sister
team, Raphael and Aisa Mijeno, this lamp is powered by a few strips of
metal and saltwater. The two live in the Philippines and created this
lamp because many rural communities do not have access to electricity
there. This reality affected Aisa who connected with one such community
while working for Greenpeace. She came to realize that there was a major
problem that needed solving. 
 

Aisa and Raphael Mijeno with the oversized check they received for winning the IdeaSpace Philippines start-up competition.

 As most residents live without
electricity, it forces them to use kerosene-powered lanterns as their
primary source of light. But acquiring kerosene is no easy feat as most
do not have access to transportation. Consequently, the villagers walk
for 12 hours just to buy a bottle of kerosene, which will serve them for
up to two days. Saltwater, however is not only cheap, but abundant as
most families in the Philippines (including low-income households) have
access to three main things: water, rice and salt. 

The lamp can run for eight hours
at a time, on one glass of water and two teaspoons of salt. But, how
does it work? Two different types of metal are submerged in the
saltwater. This throws off excess electrons, which travel from one metal
to the other via a wire, producing electricity that powers the LEDs.
Furthermore, unlike kerosene lanterns, the saltwater lamps are not a
fire hazard and can therefore be safely set up inside a home. And,
adding to the lamp’s benefits, those who live in coastal communities can
use ocean water instead of a homemade saline solution.

The electrode rods in the lamps
need to be replaced twice a year, still, the brother-sister duo expect
that the lamp will prove to be more convenient and cost-effective for
families in rural areas than buying gas for a traditional fuel lamp.

So
far, the lamps have generated a lot of interest around Southeast Asia
and India. And the two have already received major support from start-up
incubators across East Asia, and grants from organizations like
USAID. The company set up by the Mijenos, SALt (Sustainable Alternative
Lighting), have big goals too.

Eventually,
Aisa and Raphael hope to build a saltwater-powered generator that can
power a house. And possibly, after that, a saltwater power plant. For
now though, they hope to get the lamps into mass production. The first
prototype is said to be out before the year ends and once it does hit
the market, thousands of people in the Philippines, and potentially
around the world, could benefit tremendously. 

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