Thinking Tech

Video: World's cheapest light bulb shines in developing regions

Posting in Environment

Students have created a sustainable light bulb using plastic water bottles.

Some of you may have heard the familiar saying "One man's trash is another man's treasure." But I'm going to ask you for a minute to think of all the potential ecological benefits if such a perspective was applied on a global scale. Re-using and re-purposing non-biodegradable junk would perhaps mean less landfills, pollutants and fewer floating threats to marine life -- just to name some of the top of my head.

One of the more ingenuous examples I recently came across can be found at MIT, where students have created a sustainable light bulb using plastic water bottles. It also happens to be the world's most affordable bulb, with additional materials consisting of only water and bleach, a combination that produces lighting equivalent to a 60-watt bulb. The project was born out of a Isang Litrong Liwanag ("A Liter of Light"), an organization that's working to bring low-cost indoor lighting to developing regions in the Philippines.

The principle behind how the bulb works is as simple as the technology. CBS News explains:

A plastic bottle is filled with water and bleach. That's it. That water refracts light from the sun in all directions and disperses the sun's rays that would otherwise go in one direction inside the home. The bleach prevents algae and particle build-up, keeping the water clear. Once the "light bulbs" are assembled, they are put through holes in the roof. The process can be done in an hour.

So far, workers have installed 10,000 of them in homes in Manilla. The obvious drawback is that the light bulbs are only functional during the daytime, but even then, installing them translates to tremendous costs savings for families who can ill-afford what they consider a luxury.

(via CBS News)

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure