GravityLight Is Helping Impoverished Households

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SEATTLE — Today, there are at least 1.5 billion people in the world who have no reliable access to electricity. These people rely mostly on kerosene for their light source. Kerosene is toxic to breathe and has been causing serious health problems for many people.

Currently, 780 million citizens inhale the equivalent of two packs of cigarettes every day. Health hazards like these are especially troublesome for families who can barely afford basic needs let alone healthcare. In fact, it may be rare to find care in the areas where they reside.

Kerosene produces about 244 million tons of carbon dioxide. Too much carbon dioxide emitted into the air contributes to the greenhouse gas effect and global warming.  This gas has the effect of harming the environment further. Kerosene is also expensive which is not practical for impoverished families. Ten to 20 percent of these households’ incomes go towards purchasing kerosene.

Many have tried to replace these harmful kerosene lamps. Some have suggested solar panels as an alternative, but these are very expensive and only produce electricity during sunlight hours. Energy can get stored with batteries, but these are also costly. For impoverished families, these options are impractical due to the expenses required.

A revolutionary new approach to the kerosene electricity dilemma has been devised thanks to the designers Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves. This illumination and energy storing device is called GravityLight.

GravityLight works with a weight system using a bag filled with items such as dirt that cause the bag to descend with gravitational force. The pull of the GravityLight’s gravitational force creates kinetic energy and this is transferred into light energy. The weight takes about three seconds to lift and the light created lasts for about 30 minutes. GravityLight creates light that is completely free which is practical for impoverished families. Not only does this invention create a free light source but it can also be used for powering radios and recharging batteries.

Since there are no running costs, the device has the potential to lift people out of poverty. The initial cost of GravityLight is $10.  Although this product has already made an impact, it is still in the process of achieving goals. A campaign to raise money for GravityLight’s production failed in 2012 but has been revamped and has now been flourishing ever since.

As word spread about this light, the goal of $55,000 has been surpassed, with the funds received at about $1.4 million. These funds have made it possible to begin mass production next year to provide lights to 100,000 people or more. There is also a plan to make GravityLights commercially available thanks to all the support they have gained.

Katelynn Kenworthy

Photo: Flickr

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About Author

Katelynn Kenworthy

Katelynn lives in Valdosta, GA. Her academic interests include Politics, International Affairs, Sociology and Art. This summer Katelynn will be living in Hawaii to complete a (scuba) divemaster internship.

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