Innovation That Matters

Jeremiah Thoronka and Optim Energy have harnessed piezoelectricity to create a sustainable source of electricity for rural communities | Photo source Chegg Global Student Prize 2021

University student develops kinetic energy power source for rural communities

Agriculture & Energy

The device is buried in the ground to absorb energy from pedestrian and car traffic

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Spotted: Requiring no battery or electrical connection to work, Jeremiah Thoronka’s piezoelectric device transforms vibrations from passing traffic (vehicular and pedestrian) into clean energy. The university student developed his prototype after growing up in the midst of Sierra Leone’s civil war. Many thousands of communities in the country still lack access to a regular source of gas or electricity.

While in high school, Thoronka developed his ideas, building from scrap materials and anything he could find locally, eventually creating his company Optim Energy. When the pandemic occurred, he took the time to strengthen the supply chain for each of the device’s components. Initial trials of his design successfully powered 150 homes and 15 schools. Just two devices created enough energy for more than 1,500 people in the homes and 9,000 students in the schools.

Currently finishing his bachelor’s degree, Thoronka has also created a second product for the company, an Energy Efficiency Online Calculator. The calculator gathers in-home and business data to better manage power supplies and help users understand their requirements. Future plans for the business include developing the device for use in healthcare where refrigeration needs are great while resources are scarce.

Springwise has spotted a number of innovations that focus on making new technology, especially developments in healthcare and air quality, affordable and accessible to remote communities. Two examples are a small air purifier that works without a filter yet is strong enough for single family homes and small businesses or schools, and a portable lamp powered by seawater that runs for up to 45 days on a single charge.

Written by: Keely Khoury


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