Innovation That Matters

The NowLight by Deciwatt provides light and device charging using nothing but muscle power | Photo source Deciwatt

Muscle-powered emergency generators for vulnerable communities

Agriculture & Energy

Renewable energy innovator Deciwatt is partnering with humanitarian organisations to deliver the hand-powered devices to communities with little or no access to electricity

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Spotted: Today 940 million people—13 per cent of the world’s population—lack access to electricity. For ten years, grassroots NGO Deciwatt has been developing renewable energy innovations that help the world’s most energy-insecure communities have emergency access to lighting. Now, it has launched a new product to expand the impact of its activities.  

The organisation’s origins lie in a project to replace the dangerous, expensive, and polluting kerosene lamps that are still relied on by hundreds of millions of people around the world. This brief inspired designers Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves to take advantage of the vast improvements in LED technology to create a lighting solution that harnessed the power of gravity. Supported by crowdfunding, this insight formed the basis of the GravityLight – a design that required no batteries or sunlight but was powered instead by a user pulling on a weighted cord.

Supported by further crowdfunding campaigns, the GravityLight was put through its paces in a series of field trials and further tweaked to meet the needs of users. However, despite the incremental improvements, users indicated that they needed a longer-lasting, brighter light, and the ability to charge mobile devices. This prompted a pivot to a new product – the NowLight.

The refined design of the NowLight provides instant light and power. The device can provide over two hours of light from the user pulling on a cord for just one minute. And, crucially, the new design is over ten times brighter than the GravityLight and is efficient enough to charge devices through a USB port. Moreover, it provides versatility by supporting mains and solar charging.

Springwise has also recently spotted a sodium-ion battery system that provides power to vulnerable communities. And a university student has also developed a kinetic energy power source for remote areas. Another innovation that helps to tackle the immediate causes of insecurity of supply, is a smart energy device that helps to reduce the impact of electric hot water systems in South Africa.

Written By: Matthew Hempstead



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