Technology

Good Science: GravityLight

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In my previous post I explained that I wanted to start sharing stories here about science, technology and innovations that are making improvements in the developing world. This week’s focus is on a  product that is literally shedding new light on the issue of lack of access to clean lighting sources in developing countries. Meet GravityLight.

An estimated 1.7 billion people worldwide do not have electricity in their homes. Throughout the developing world, hazardous kerosene lamps remain the primary lighting source in poor households. Use of these lamps is not only potentially detrimental to human health and the environment, but kerosene is also expensive. The World Bank estimates that poor households spend 10 percent or more of their income on kerosene, or as much as $36 billion a year worldwide. There has been no shortage of efforts to create alternative light and energy sources in developing nations, but there has yet to be a truly workable and cost effective solution. Perhaps until now.

A London-based product design firm called Therefore has developed a lamp powered by gravity. Gravity! The compact light, housed in a durable plastic casing, comes with a fabric bag that, when filled with rocks, sand or dirt generates enough power to run the light for 30 minutes. The lamp will cost end users $10, and because it’s powered by gravity, it has no running costs. Its creators claim that users will recoup their initial investment after 3 months of no longer needing to purchase kerosene.

Earlier this year, an indiegogo campaign for GravityLight to support research and further development of the product exceeded its fundraising goal by over $340,000. A recent update from the design team states that the light’s design has been finalized and it will soon be run through a global trial. To see it in action, check out the video below.

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