eGFI - Dream Up the Future Sign-up for The Newsletter  For Teachers Online Store Contact us Search
Read the Magazine
What's New?
Explore eGFI
Engineer your Path About eGFI
Autodesk - Change Your World
Overview E-tube Trailblazers Student Blog
  • Tag Cloud

  • What’s New

  • Pages

  • RSS RSS

  • RSS Comments

  • Archives

  • Meta

Water Bottles to Illuminate a Million Homes

In Manila, the capital of the Philippines, lack of electricity keeps millions of the city’s poorer inhabitants in the dark. Metal rooftops on the city’s slum houses also block natural daylight, but students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found a cheap and elegant solution to the problem: plastic water bottles.

By filling a plastic bottle with water and bleach (to prevent algae from growing), students and residents can fashion a solar lamp that fills even the gloomiest shelters with light. It works thanks to phenomenon you may have learned in physics class – refraction. When sunlight passes through the bottle and hits the water, its rays bend and disperse in many different directions.

Installation is as simple as cutting a small circular hole in the metal roof, placing the bottle in the opening, and sealing the edges to stop rainwater leakage. After the lamps are fitted, they provide light equivalent to a 60 watt light bulb and can last up to 5 years without needing to be replaced.

Volunteers have already installed over 10,000 of these lamps all over Manila through the Isang Litrong Liwanag (“A Liter of Light”) project.

Led by Filipino MIT alum Illac Diaz, A Liter of Light is an organized initiative to bring light to over one million homes by 2012. Their Solar Bottle Bulb is “based on the principles of Appropriate Technology – a concept that provides simple and easily replicable technologies that address basic needs in developing communities.”

Watch this news report on the bulb installations:

For more information on the Appropriate Technology movement and the inventions it has spawned, check out this blog. Also, be sure to read our profile of MIT mechanical engineering professor Amy Smith, founder of the school’s D-Lab, which offers “different courses at the intersection of technology innovation and international development.”

Images:

A Liter of Light

10 Responses to “Water Bottles to Illuminate a Million Homes”

  1. That’s an awesome idea, will surely help those in need. However, the idea wasn’t that of students at MIT, but rather Brazilian inventor/engineer Alfredo Moser, back in 2002. See this news report (safe): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zMAWztZ6TI&NR=1 The MIT students did take it to a more global level with very positive impact, and for that they should be commended.

  2. It’s amazing idea…….!
    if the project get spread all over then definatly India will complete Mission 2020…

  3. […] the simply written features about engineers and cool technologies, such as a recent posting about transforming plastic bottles into lights. She says the blog is “a great jumping off point for teachers in terms of writing assignments and […]

  4. […] the simply written features about engineers and cool technologies, such as a recent posting about transforming plastic bottles into lights. She says the blog is “a great jumping off point for teachers in terms of writing assignments and […]

  5. that is really cool… im going to try that for a project at home with a cardboard box lol

  6. Once again, MIT taking existing work, making news of it, then taking credit without any mention of prior art or researchers’ efforts. I’m starting to think that MIT only exists to generate news and thus funding and not actually do any groundbreaking research these days.

  7. In a way, it is incredible how great a change this innovation will bring to Manila. I had no idea that this capital was so poor in the first place, not to mention that there is no source of light for the homes. I was thinking about how detrimental the lack of illumination could affect the emotional status of the city. Without the vital nutrients from the sun, did Filipino residents have low spirits? I wonder if the refracted light from the water bottles contain the essential vitamins. If so, it is great that while poor Filipinos are maybe deprived of other day-to-day necessities, they can receive a free source of energy from the sun, instead of living in the darkness of their huts. Over time, this simple innovation could presumably change the entire emotional state of the city.

  8. that’s cool!

  9. But if people could use that instead of lightbulbs we could save millions from electric bills!

  10. […] Water Bottles to Illuminate a Million Homes […]

Comments or Questions?

By clicking the "Submit" button you agree to the eGFI Privacy Policy.