Gravity-powered lamp for people with no electricity

A device that uses gravity to generate energy off the grid could benefit people around the world with no access to electricity after its developer received £150,000 to scale up.

London start-up Deciwatt invented GravityLight, which can take only three seconds to lift the weight that powers it to create 25 minutes of light on its descent. “It has no batteries to run out, replace or dispose of,” said Jim Reeves, technical director of Deciwatt.

A panel of judges from academia, the engineering sector and business awarded GravityLight £150,000 on Tuesday to expand, as part of the Shell Springboard programme.

The gravity-powered lamp is an answer for the estimated 1.5 billion people with no access to electricity worldwide and it could replace the biomass fuels – mainly kerosene lamps – which so many families in the developing world rely on for light.

Caroline Angus, commercial director of Deciwatt, said: “The funding will help us to convert existing links in the relief market into orders and sales, as well as further refining our technology.”

Using a 12kg bag threaded through a patented electricity-generating device to power a small light, the technology generates safe light with no risk of burns, house fires or kerosene-related illnesses.

The World Bank estimates that 780 million women and children breathing kerosene fumes inhale smoke equivalent to two packs of cigarettes every day.

Bill Gates, computer programmer and Microsoft co-founder, took to Twitter to praise the designers back in 2013 when the idea was set out: ”@GravityLight is a pretty cool innovation which could be a source of cheap light in developing markets.”

Figures from a study by Imperial College London showed that the UK low-carbon sector is worth £130bn, but if entrepreneurs or SMEs fail to capitalise on this opportunity the UK could miss out on £6.7bn of annual economic growth by 2023.

Among the shortlisted candidates were Bactest, a sludge monitoring system, and Econic Technologies, which has developed a technology that can transform CO2 into plastic for consumer use.

E&T interview with Jim Reeves, technical director at Deciwatt

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