Many of us take for granted the simple privileges of electricity, water, and food, without realizing that there are many of our countrymen who aren’t so lucky. According to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, 16 million families didn’t have electricity in 2013. This is what inspired Aisa Mijeno, an engineer and social worker, to invent a lamp that doesn’t need electricity, batteries, or kerosene. It only needs salt and water.
Aisa was inspired to create this lamp on an immersion trip in 2011 to the Kalinga highlands, where she stayed with the Butbut tribe in Buscalan. Life in the mountains halts to a stop during sunset, because locals don’t have access to electricity. They either have to make fire or walk for hours to the nearest town to buy fuel for their lamps.
A sample of SALt
Mijeno’s invention, called SALt, or Sustainable Alternative Lighting, is created by dissolving two tablespoons of salt in a glass of water. The lamp is equivalent to seven candles or the brightness of a low-LED bulb, and can last up to eight hours. According to Mijeno:
If you did the lemon-battery experiment, that’s basically it. Two different metals submerged in electrolytes will produce electricity. For us, we used saltwater. It is an open science… so I will not be surprised if there are existing similar technologies developed out there.
Aside from lighting up, SALt can charge devices through a USB port, but it can’t do both at the same time.
Mijeno presenting SALt at the 2014 Ideaspace Foundation demo day
The idea has been on Mijeno’s mind for a while, but she didn’t have the resources to try it out. Luckily, a technopreneur bootcamp in De La Salle Lipa hosted by Ideaspace Foundation called for entries in its yearly startup competition. She pitched her idea and was accepted. The incubator provided funding and “soft support,” which led to SALt.
According to Mijeno, SALt can prevent families from turning to dangerous and expensive alternatives like kerosene. Seventy percent of the earth’s surface is saltwater, a crucial ingredient in her invention.
Just last year, Mijeno won the People’s Choice Award at Startup Nations Summit 2014 held in Seoul, South Korea.
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