Ingenious Lamp Lights Third World With the Power of Gravity

In areas of the world where there is no grid to deliver electricity, homes are often lit by kerosene lamps. The smoke from those lamps is incredibly dangerous, as are the flames themselves: millions of people every year suffer severe burns and property loss as a result of kerosene lamps tipping over. A startup company has come up with an absolutely brilliant solution for lighting off-grid homes, using one of the most overlooked but abundant resources available absolutely everywhere on Earth: gravity.

GravityLight addresses the fact that more than 1.5 billion people on the planet have no access to reliable electricity. The clean, green LED lamp only requires users to lift a 20-pound weight every 30 minutes. As the weight descends the attached tracks, it powers an internal dynamo which in turn lights the light. It’s the same concept we’ve seen used with hand-cranked gadgets for years, just with less overall effort required of the user thanks to gravity’s help.

The team behind GravityLight looked to IndieGoGo for initial funding of the research stage of their project. They blew way past their initial funding goal, meaning that they will soon be able to provide lights to people in Africa and India for real-world testing. After the lights make it to large-scale manufacturing, they will cost less than $5 each, meaning that people who switch to a GravityLight from a kerosene lamp will recoup their investment in a matter of weeks. The health and safety benefits of switching away from kerosene are incalculable.

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See more in Energy & Power or under Science. December, 2012.