Kerosene and battery-operated lamps may have met their match. SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting) has developed a lamp that will illuminate rooms and even charge smartphones using easily accessible ingredients: salt and water. The innovative solution could be a gamechanger in coastal communities, as it can be powered by little more than a cup saltwater from the ocean.
The idea for SALt lamps came from co-founder and CEO Aisa Mijeno, a member of Greenpeace Philippines and part of the Engineering faculty at De La Salle University — Lipa. While visiting a Filipino mountain tribe, she saw that they depended on kerosene and moonlight to do their evening chores. She and Raphael Mijeno (co-founder and CFO) decided to create an alternative source of lighting that would be more efficient, safe, and sustainable.
For a country with over 7,000 islands and little access to electricity in many parts, turning to the ocean made sense. SALt accomplished its goal by coming up with lamps that can be powered by either seawater or a homemade saline solution (a glass of water and 2 tablespoons of salt). The design uses Galvanic cells similar to batteries, yet relies on a non-toxic saline solution instead of potentially harmful electrolytes. Used eight hours a day, the lamps have an anode lifespan of six months.
With the Philippines, having suffered major natural disasters over the years, including 2013’s devastating Typhoon Haiyan, SALt took emergency-preparedness into consideration. The design features a USB plug where smartphones can be charged if needed. Although the Philippines is SALt’s target at the moment, the company ultimately hopes to increase availability, which is good news for anyone wants one of these handy lights in their survival kit.
Currently, SALt lamps are in the mass production stage with the goal of being introduced to the market in late 2015 or early 2016. The company will first produce lamps for its target communities, as well as those of the NGOs and foundations with which it partners. A price hasn’t been set yet, but according to SALt’s website, its goal is to “target an affordable price that can also support and sustain the flow of [its] production.”