For those of us who are fortunate to live in a country with an abundance of resources, flipping on an electrical outlet and having our lights turn on is an everyday occurrence. This process seems so natural to us that we don’t even give it a second thought until the power goes off. We — myself included — then whine and complain about the inconvenience while we wait for the power to return. But for some people in the world, having electric lights is a luxury that is beyond their means.
A new product, called GravityLight, may change the way that people in underdeveloped countries are provided with light. Using the power of gravity, with one pull of a weight, enough power is generated to last up to 30 minutes. The light produced in this way eliminates the need for the use of kerosene, which up until now has been the standard form of illumination.
The project has sought $55,000 in funding, and as of the time of this writing has generated over $179,000 toward the project. The goal of the original funding was to provide 1,000 units of GravityLights to people living in Africa and India for testing.
The company that is producing the GravityLight, is hoping that the research it receives from the test units will assist in refining the design. After the initial research is completed, the company hopes the units can be produced for approximately $5.00 and distributed worldwide. So why is this little light so important to the underdeveloped masses?
According to the GravityLight website, The World Bank estimates that some 780 million women and children are subjected to smoke emitted from kerosene lamps. This smoke accumulation is like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day and contributes to lung cancer and other diseases, including infections and cataracts. In addition, users of kerosene lamps suffer burns from lamps being overturned and fires related to the use of such lamps. The people who use kerosene lamps are subjected to substandard lighting and sometimes are unable to purchase even a cupful of kerosene for daily use. The burning of kerosene can produce up to 244 million tons of carbon dioxide which contributes to pollution around the world.
The GravityLight can produce an amount of light that would be equivalent to or exceeding the amount of light produced by a standard kerosene lamp. In addition, the GravityLight can be mass-produced, costs less than using solar panels, and doesn’t require any additional source of power to function properly. A simple weight, coupled with gravity, is all that is needed to produce enough light for most general uses such as reading.
I personally believe that this is a great project in need of our support.
Comments, as always, are welcome.
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Thomas Quinones