A brother and sister in the Philippines invented a lamp that runs entirely on metal and saltwater.

It's so simple but kind of genius.

How do you light your home when you don't have electricity and you can't afford gas?

You use this.


Photo by SALt/Facebook.

It's an ordinary handheld lamp, with one big difference: It requires no fuel.

Instead it's powered by a few strips of metal. And saltwater.

The lamp was designed by brother-sister team Raphael and Aisa Mijeno.

Aisa and Raphael Mijeno with the oversized check they received for winning the IdeaSpace Philippines start-up competition. Photo by SALt/Facebook.

The Mijenos live in the Philippines, where many rural communities don't have access to electricity.

When Aisa embedded with one such community while working for Greenpeace, she realized there was a major problem that needed solving:

Living without electricity forces residents to use kerosene-powered lanterns as their primary light source. But acquiring kerosene can be a huge challenge if you don't have access to transportation, as many in those communities don't.

"What the people do is, they walk for 12 hours just to buy a bottle of kerosene," Raphael told Upworthy. "And that's good for two days."

Saltwater, however, is as cheap and plentiful.

"In the Philippines, even in [low-income households], you will surely find three things: water, rice, and salt," said Raphael.

The lamp can run for eight hours at a time on one glass of water and two teaspoons of salt.

Two different types of metal are submerged in the saltwater. This throws off excess electrons, which then travel from one metal to the other via a wire, producing electricity that powers the LEDs.

According to Raphael and Aisa's company Sustainable Alternative Lighting (SALt), unlike kerosene lanterns, the saltwater lamps are not a fire hazard and can safely be set up inside the home.

The lanterns are also versatile. People living in inland villages can use homemade saline solution to power the lamps. Those in coastal communities can simply use ocean water.

The electrode rods in the lamps have to be replaced roughly twice a year, but the Mijenos expect that to prove more convenient and cost-effective for families in rural areas than buying gas for a traditional fuel lamp.

Raphael says the lamps are generating lots of interest around Southeast Asia and India.

SALt has big goals. Aisa and Raphael hope to eventually build a saltwater-powered generator that can power a whole house.

After that, perhaps a saltwater power plant.

Not a saltwater power plant. Photo by Wknight94/Wikimedia Commons.

But for now, they're getting ready to (hopefully) put the lamps into mass production.

According to Raphael, they're already getting major support from start-up incubators across East Asia as well as grants from organizations like USAID.

"We're looking to get the final prototype out before the year ends," Raphael said.

If they do, thousands in the Philippines, and potentially around the world, could benefit tremendously.

Aisa Mijeno with residents of un-electrified Barangay Gabi and a prototype lamp. Photo by SALt/Facebook.

Heroes
True
CARE & Windows 10

Mom and blogger Mary Katherine Backstrom regularly shares snippets of life with her two children on her Facebook page. One particularly touching interaction with her daughter is melting hearts and blowing minds due to the three-year-old's wise words about forgiveness.

Even adults struggle with the concept of forgiveness. Entire books have been written about how and why to forgive those who have wronged us, but many still have a hard time getting it. Who would guess that a preschooler could encapsulate what forgiveness means in a handful of innocent words?

Keep Reading Show less
Family

California has a housing crisis. Rent is so astronomical, one San Francisco company is offering bunk bedsfor $1,200 a month; Google even pledged$1 billion to help tackle the issue in the Bay Area. But the person who might fix it for good? Kanye West.

The music mogul first announced his plan to build low-income housing on Twitter late last year.

"We're starting a Yeezy architecture arm called Yeezy home. We're looking for architects and industrial designers who want to make the world better," West tweeted.

Keep Reading Show less
Cities

The U.S. women's soccer team won the Women's World Cup, but the victory is marred by the fact that the team is currently fighting for equal pay. In soccer, the game is won by scoring points, but the fight for equal pay isn't as clearly winnable and the playing field isn't as even.

We live in a world where winning the World Cup is easier than winning equal pay, but co-captain Megan Rapinoe says there's one easy way fans can support the team: Go see games.

Some people argue the men's team deserves to get paid more because they are more successful and earn more money for the United States Soccer Federation. Pay depends on merchandise and ticket sales, and in general, men's sporting events tend to draw a bigger crowd than women's sporting events. It's not about sex, many argue; it's about the fact that people just prefer to see men play.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

You think you know someone pretty well when you spend years with them, but, as we've seen time and again, that's not always the case. And though many relationships don't get to a point where the producers of "Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?" start calling every day just to chat, the reality is that sometimes partners will reveal shocking things even after you thought you'd been all shocked out.

That's the case for one woman whose Reddit thread has recently gone viral. The 25-year-old, who's been with her boyfriend for five years, took to a forum for relationship advice to ask if it was normal that her seemingly cool and loving boyfriend recently revealed women shouldn't have a fundamental right. (And no, it's not abortion — although there are a lot of "otherwise best ever boyfriends" out there who want to deny women the rights to bodily autonomy, too.)

Keep Reading Show less
Recommended