Sunday, November 18, 2007

let there be light!

I'm not usually a techno worshipping type, but here's a handy device that could transform people's abilities to get light without wasteful diesel generators or kerosene lanterns. It's called the GaiaLux Ecolight and has been entered in NASA's Create the Future design contest. Basically, it reuses discarded mobile phone chargers to get electricity to rechargeable batteries that in turn power a highly efficient LED bulb. It can be recharged on variable or low current and the batteries will run the light for 40 hours. It's a nifty idea that could reuse some of the 125 million phone chargers that are discarded every year as well as potentially providing affordable (and bright) lighting in places that need it.

A few follow-up questions for inventor John Barrie:

1. How much does the GaiaLux cost? Does the price make it within the reach of people with alarmingly low incomes? Are the materials and supplies that are necessary manufactured in the countries that might find uses for the light, or will they have to be imported?

2. How heavy is the light (because people who don't have their own electricity would likely need to carry it somewhere to recharge the batteries)?

3. Is it feasible to recharge the batteries through solar power?

1 comment:

John Barrie said...

Thanks for the interest in the Gaialux light.

Follow Up Answers -

1. The costs are not firm yet, but it should be pretty inexpensive. One of the big costs for LED lights is the transformer. Our transformers are recycled cell phone chargers which we can get today for free. The other parts will cost ~$10.00 for LEDs, batteries and an inexpensive fixture. We hope to qualify for carbon offset credits (if used 4 hrs per day Gaialux will save over a ton of CO2 in 2 - 3 yrs) Right now carbon credits are in the $10.00 per ton so if we qualify for the credit we may have to cover just the cost of assembly.

The batteries and LEDs will have to be imported. We are looking into using lead-acid batteries (simple technology but toxic) that can be made in some of our target countries.

2. The light doesn't weigh much. Total weight will be less than 2 lbs, possibly less than 1 pound. We have two prototypes that are close to the 1 pound weight. Lead batteries would add another pound.

3. Our original Gaialux design was for use with solar power. The circuit board is different than the one for squatter cities and it doesn't need a cell phone charger/transformer.

Our Gaialux for solar power is a modular system that includes solar panels that can be added onto as people can afford it.

Solar + LED systems cost less than using kerosene lamps. Most people who live in rural Latin America, Africa and Asia use kerosene to light their homes at an average cost of $75.00 per year. We will offer a Solar + LED system for less per year using Grameen Shakti loan practices. Over 5 years a homeowner can purchase a robust PV + LED system that has sufficient additional capacity to power a radio, charge a cell phone or power a small TV.