Ingenious Lamp Illuminates Rural Communities Using Nothing But Saltwater
Providing sustainable, eco-friendly lighting could be as easy as filling a glass of water and adding a dash of salt.
image via SALt // Facebook
There are over seven thousand islands that make up the whole of the Philippines, each of which is surrounded by gallons upon gallons of salt water. And while that may not seem like much of a natural resource, a new Filipino startup has found a way to harness that simple combination of H2O and NaCl, and transform it into a low-cost source of reliable lighting for a country in which many live disconnected from the national power grid.
For all its potential to improve the lives of thousands who, literally, live in the dark, the SALt (“Sustainable Alternative Lighting”) Lamp is a surprisingly simple invention: A light bulb powered by a voltaic cell battery, similar to the lemon or potato-powered alarm clocks elementary school students make in science class. But, rather than run on electricity generated by a citrus or tuber-related chemical reaction, the SALt lamps need only a cup of water and two tablespoons of salt to stay lit for up to eight hours at a time.
What’s more, as the Philippines are surrounded by salt water, there is a virtually unlimited source of power to keep the lamps illuminated throughout their estimated six-month lifespan. There’s even a USB outlet, so the lamps can power small peripheral devices, like cell phones, as well.
image via SALt // Facebook
Explains the SALt website:
The salinity of ocean-water can operate your lamp. Use the ocean-water to power up your lamp and it will give you 8 hours of running-time. Salinity is expressed by the amount of salt found in 1,000 grams of water. The average ocean salinity is 35 parts per thousand. Store ocean-water in bottles and use them to power up you lamp anytime, anywhere.
But it’s not just the eco-friendly, abundant power source that makes the SALt Lamp so potentially impactful, it’s what it would be replacing in the thousands of homes across the Philippines without access to the country’s power grid: kerosene lamps and candles, both of which run the risk of leading to accidental house fires—a particularly dangerous risk in extreme weather, or emergencies, the exact conditions during which illumination is most important.
FastCo reports that the lamps will be made commercially available, but that the startup has a specific focus on supplying the Philippines—particularly its off-grid villages and towns. To that end, the company keeps a running “Social Activities” list, in which they document their efforts to donate hundreds of their lamps to rural communities.
Currently, the company is in what they call their “mass production stage,” with plans to get the SALt lamps into the market by the first quarter of 2016. While no price has been set for the lamps as of yet, the company is “very keen” to keep them affordable.