Lighting is something that we take for granted in the developed world, but there are still many areas around the globe where people lack reliable access to light at night. They often use kerosene lamps, which contribute to indoor pollution and have to be refilled with oil regularly.
Aisa Mijeno, an engineering professor who worked for years with Greenpeace Philippines, noticed during her work there that many indigenous people in the over-7,000 islands that make up the country were using kerosene lamps exclusively for lighting. The family she lived with there would have to climb down the mountain that they lived on and then walk an additional 30 km to the nearest town in order to get more oil to fuel their lamps.
Mileno wanted to come up with a lighting solution that was both better for the environment and made the lives of the people better and easier.
Mileno told Core 77, "A few of the common things we noticed in marginalized island communities are the staple supplies of salt, water and rice. Almost all of the household we have been stationed in consist of these common elements in their homes."
With that in mind, she developed an LED lamp that runs on salt water -- one glass of water and two tablespoons of salt to be exact. (And as Gizmag explains, the lamp also relies on a galvanic cell battery with two electrodes placed in the salt and water electrolyte solution.)
Mileno formed the Sustainable Alternative Lighting, or SALt Corp. to develop the lamp and come up with a way to get it in the hands of people around the world that needed it.
The SALt lamp stays lit for eight hours a day with the salt water concoction, or for coastal populations, sea water, and can run everyday for six months until the anode wears out. If it is used in tandem with another light source or for less time every day, it will last for more than a year.
The lamp uses the same science as that behind the Galvanic cell, which is the basis for batteries. The start-up said in changing electrolytes to a saline solution it makes the lighting non-toxic and a safer choice by removing the risk of fires from tipped over lamps and candles. It's healthier for the people using it because the lamp doesn't emit indoor pollution and the materials used are far better for the environment.
The lamp can also be used in emergency situations as both a lighting source and an energy source for charging phones with a USB cable.
There is no price set for the lamp yet, but they are letting people sign up for pre-orders on their website. SALt plans to have the lamp out by the end of the year or early next year, with a focus on getting it into the hands of the communities and NGO's that need it most.