How a Lamp Powered by Gravity Can Improve the Health of Millions

780 million women and children breathing fumes from makeshift kerosene lamps inhale the equivalent of smoke from two packs of cigarettes a day. GravityLight aims to change that by providing a safe light source.
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780 million women and children breathing fumes from makeshift kerosene lamps inhale the equivalent of smoke from two packs of cigarettes a day. GravityLight aims to change that by providing a safe light source.

More than 1.5 billion people have no access to electricity, according to the United Nations Foundation. And with no electricity as a power source, many of them rely on makeshift and unsafe kerosene lamps for light, which can be hazardous to their health. The World Bank estimates that 780 million women and children breathing kerosene fumes inhale the equivalent of smoke from two packs of cigarettes a day.

GravityLight, which was honored with a spot on the 2014 Nominet Trust 100 list last week along with Not Impossible's own Project Daniel, aims to address this health issue by powering a lamp with the sheer force of gravity.

GravityLight

Photo courtesy of GravityLight

How does it work? A bag filled with about 22 pounds of rocks or sand is attached to a pulley-like system on the device. As the bag slowly descends, “kinetic energy is converted via a series of small gears into electrical energy and the light is powered live,” according to GravityLight’s website. The light last almost 30 minutes on the low light setting with the added bonus of no noxious fumes.

One issue still up in the air: cost. The original goal was to keep GravityLight at $6, but the company now says the market retail price has yet to be finalized. But the families who will end up using GravityLight won’t need to buy kerosene for light, which will help them save money in the long run.

“What’s crucially different about GravityLight is it’s designed to replace kerosene lighting,” GravityLight designer Jim Reeves said during a TEDx Talk in April. “There aren’t a great many products that are designed for the world’s poorest people.”

Learn more about GravityLight at their website and by watching the TEDx Talk video below.

Top photo courtesy of GravityLight