My inventor friend Brian LaGrave just pointed me at a really interesting project called GravityLight. This is hosted on indiegogo.com, which is similar to Kickstarter.com, the main difference (as far as I can see) being that the folks at indiegogo.com don’t take a cut out of the project's funds.
According to the project's page, there are currently over 1.5 billion people in the World who have no reliable access to mains electricity; instead, they rely on biomass fuels (mostly kerosene) for lighting once the sun goes down.
As you will discover from the project page, burning fuels like kerosene has tremendous negative effects, including causing lung cancer, eye infections, cataracts, and severe burns from overturned kerosene lamps. The burning of Kerosene for lighting also produces 244 million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide annually.
Now, if you were asked to come up with a solution, your knee-jerk reaction (like mine) might be something along the lines of using solar power to charge a battery in the day, and to then use the battery to power a LED-based light in the evening. However, one problem with this solution is that the batteries used in this sort of thing degrade really quickly. Have you ever purchased any of those solar-powered LED lights for your garden pathway? If you have, you'll know what I mean. They look great for the first couple of weeks -- then they start to dim and fail -- and they end up being a total waste of money.
The solution proposed by this project is to use gravity to power the light. The GravityLight
is delivered in a bag, which you can subsequently fill with rocks or sand. It then takes only a couple of seconds to lift the bag and hang it on the GravityLight
– this mass is used to generate the electricity that powers the light.
The project has already far exceeded its original funding goal and – at the time of this writing – there are still 13 days left to go. However, the fact that the project has reached its original goal doesn’t mean we shouldn’t support this effort. Any extra funds can go into research and development to further reduce the cost of the finished product.
One can pledge as little as $10. However, for a pledge of $50 you will get your own GravityLight
to play with. Having been without power for more than a week myself when tornadoes devastated our area a couple of years ago, I can easily imagine how useful this would be.
I know that there are always a lot of demands on everyone's money, but I really do think that this sounds like a good cause. If nothing else, please take the time to visit the GravityLight Project Page
, watch the video, read about what they are trying to do, and then maybe you can help to spread the word via your accounts on Facebook, Twirtter, LinkedIn, and so forth.
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