GravityLight is a revolutionary new approach to storing energy and creating illumination. It takes only 3 seconds to lift the weight which powers GravityLight, creating 30 minutes of light on its descent.
The light is powered by a simple weighted bag, be it sand, rock, or earth, or anything weighing approximately 20 pounds. A cord pulls through the center of the lighting mechanism with a dynamo inside that converts the slowly falling/dropping weight into energy for the light. You simply lift the 20 pound bag up close to the light and you get 30 minutes of light. It is like a pulley with a brake on it to keep the weight moving slowly down generating energy on its descent. If you can lift 20 pounds, you can power a small light.
The initial batch of 1,000 GravityLights will be distributed for free to villagers in Africa and India, whereby its creators claim these villagers will be able to save money by not having to buy kerosene-powered lamps.
Did you know that there are currently over 1.5 billion people in the World who have no reliable access to mains electricity? These people rely, instead, on biomass fuels (mostly kerosene) for lighting once the sun goes down.
The World Bank estimates that, as a result, 780 million women and children inhale smoke which is equivalent to smoking 2 packets of cigarettes every day. 60% of adult, female lung-cancer victims in developing nations are non-smokers.
The fumes also cause eye infections and cataracts, but burning kerosene is also more immediately dangerous: 2.5 million people a year, in India alone, suffer severe burns from overturned kerosene lamps. Burning Kerosene also comes with a financial burden: kerosene for lighting ALONE can consume 10 to 20% of a household’s income. This burden traps people in a permanent state of subsistence living, buying cupfuls of fuel for their daily needs, as and when they can.
The burning of Kerosene for lighting also produces 244 million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide annually.
Why not Solar powered lighting ?
A commonly held view is that solar powered lighting is the answer to these problems in the developing world. However a number of conflicting factors combine to complicate matters. Solar panels produce electricity only when the sun shines, so the energy needs to be stored in a battery to produce the light when it becomes dark. The amount of energy stored is dependent on the size of the panel, the size of the battery, and how much (if any) sun has shone.
However batteries, panels and lights are expensive, and beyond the reach of people with no savings. Solar lighting projects continue to provide lighting for thousands of people in the developing world, but the spread is slow because the cost is too high for individuals, so they need to be bought and installed by communities instead.