Engineers in U.K. have designed a light that requires only gravity as its "fuel." The team appealed to the internet for funding the project that could illuminate the lives of billions.
Though electricity may be taken for granted in the developed parts of the world, it is still a distant dream for over 1.2 billion people worldwide. While we may not think much before flicking a switch and watching the rooms get flooded with lights, these underprivileged people rely on dangerous and relatively expensive kerosene lamps to provide them with light to study, work, and cook after dark.
Kerosene lamps aren't just hazardous -- they are injurious to a person's health because they emit harmful gases that remain trapped in the tiny rooms in which these people dwell. But that could soon change due to the project called GravityLight. A design of a UK based team, GravityLight runs simply using the force of gravity.
The setup is quite straightforward and simple. The light essentially consists of a pulley to which a 12 Kg weight needs to be added. A bag of sand, rocks, or anything that weighs close to 12 Kg has to be attached to a bead chord and then pulled up. As the weight slowly descends due to gravity, potential energy is transformed into kinetic energy that drives a sprocket and polymer gear train that lights up the LED. Each pull offers about 30 minutes of light, and if you can get the weight all the way up, you could power up the light for quite a few hours.
The ingenious solution that doesn't even require the sun costs about $10 to produce. The GravityLight will first be offered to families in developing countries, with an initial focus on Kenya. The team is also hoping to provide local jobs by creating and selling the lights. However, to do so, the company needed funding and put up an Indiegogo page. The team had aimed for an initial investment target of US$199,000 in order to make their light brighter, longer-lasting and easier to use. The internet has helped it raise almost $400,000.
The solar and wind-based options have always been promising, but the team points out the sun doesn't shine at night and the wind may stall, dipping production of electricity and depriving the population at the time of their need. But gravity is omnipresent and will always be there to help generate power and light. Moreover, once the GravityLight is procured, it requires nothing to run, except a little elbow grease to hoist the weight up.
[Image Credit | Indiegogo]