Local engineer brings innovative seawater-powered lamps to Philippines’ poor

SALt Lamp-1

Philippines, a country in Southeast Asia, is home to around 100 million people, spread over its 7,000-odd islands. With more than 27.9-percent of the populace living below the poverty line, many rural communities, in this tropical paradise, have no access to electricity whatsoever. Instead, they rely on candles and kerosene or battery powered lamps as their principal source of lighting. Here, a team of local engineers is leading a new social movement, that aims at bringing an alternative and more efficient light source to the nation’s poorest households. Designed by Lipa Aisa Mijena, the new SALt lamp uses the one natural resource the country has been truly blessed with: oceanic salt water.

A faculty member at De La Salle University’s Department of Engineering, Mijena came up with the idea, for the seawater-powered lamp, while witnessing the difficult existence of the Butbut tribe. Living in the remote Buscalan village of Kalinga, the people of this village exist in perennial darkness, relying mainly on paraffin lanterns and moonlight for chores after sunset. Running on brine, the eco-friendly SALt lamp features a set of Galvanic cells, in which the electrolytes are in the form of a simple, non-toxic saline solution. What is more, users can also charge their smartphones, and other gadgets, via a USB cable plugged into the lamp.

The contraption, powered sustainably using one glass of tap water mixed with two tablespoons of salt, or conversely a glass of ocean water, can provide nearly 8 hours of bright light. According to the developers, the electrodes have an average lifespan of 6 months, that can be extended up to a year, depending upon how many hours, every day, it is used. Unlike candles and kerosene lamps, which are known to cause fire-related accidents, the SALt lamp is extremely safe, especially since it does not emit harmful gases of any kind. With almost-negligible carbon footprint, the device serves as a greener and more cost-effective alternative to traditional light sources.

Living in the third most natural disaster-prone nation, in the entire world, the people of Philippines have to constantly battle harsh living conditions, brought on by earthquakes, typhoons and volcanic eruptions. The new SALt lamp provide the poor islanders with a reliable, and inexpensive, source of lighting. According to Mijena, the product will be available, commercially, by the end of this year.

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To know more about the project, click here.

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