Light from a water bottle could brighten millions of poor homes (w/ video)

Sep 16, 2011 by Lisa Zyga weblog
Screenshot of a solar bottle bulb from the video below. Image credit: Isang Litrong Liwanag

As simple as it sounds, a one-liter plastic bottle filled with purified water and some bleach could serve as a light bulb for some of the millions of people who live without electricity. Originally developed by MIT students, the "solar bottle bulb" is now being distributed by the MyShelter Foundation to homes throughout the Philippines. The foundation’s goal is to use this alternative source of daylight to brighten one million homes in the country by 2012.

In order to make the water bottles " up," holes are cut in the metal roofs of homes and a bottle is placed and sealed into each hole so that its lower half emerges from the ceiling. The clear disperses the light in all directions through refraction, which can provide a luminosity that is equivalent to a 55-watt electric , according to the MyShelter Foundation. The bleach prevents mold growth so that the bulbs can last for up to five years.

Although the solar bottle bulb only works during the day, it can meet the needs of many of the people in Manila, Philippines, and other cities, where the homes are so close together that very little sunlight can enter through the windows. As a result, the homes are dark even during the day.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Residents describe the difference that the solar bottle bulb has made. Video credit: Isang Litrong Liwanag

The solar bottle bulbs’ advantages include sustainability and safety; compared with candles or faulty electrical connections, they aren’t a fire hazard. The bulbs are also inexpensive to make and install, and of course have no operating costs while in use.

The MyShelter Foundation is promoting the solar bottle bulbs as the Isang Litrong Liwanag ("A Liter of Light") project. In Manila, the city government paid for the bulbs while the foundation is training residents on how to make and install them.

Explore further: Many tongues, one voice, one common ambition

More information: http://isanglitrongliwanag.org
via: Treehugger

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User comments : 53

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socean
5 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2011
Temple
3.4 / 5 (5) Sep 16, 2011
2 years ago http://www.youtub...=related


Yep, but this is an example of great viral marketing. Pepsi's very subtle marketing here is no doubt going to be very effective.

I wonder if they'll call it Pepsi Light?
dirk_bruere
1 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2011
There ought to be a Nobel Prize for this sort of thing. It makes such a big difference to people's lives
NANOBRAIN
5 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2011
VERY NICE.
chromal
3.5 / 5 (4) Sep 16, 2011
How well do they work at night?
Scalziand
5 / 5 (3) Sep 16, 2011
How well do they work at night?


Probably about as well as windows work at night.
Nik_2213
5 / 5 (2) Sep 16, 2011
Not a light bulb, but a sky-light. Still a good idea...
Isaacsname
not rated yet Sep 16, 2011
Old but still cool. With some modification of the geometry of the container to better refract light it could be more efficient.
CHollman82
2.6 / 5 (8) Sep 16, 2011
Is it just me, or could they just put a skylight in by cutting a rectangular area out of the metal roof and fitting it with a piece of glass or plastic?

I don't really understand this... just put a window in your roof...
brassbutia
not rated yet Sep 16, 2011
I was in a home stay in Java whereby the family built the hut with a roof where two patches of plastic or glass (probably plastic) allowing natural light during the day, each near to the side of the roof. I am not sure if it can withstand heavy downpour. But it works well throughout the day!
kochevnik
1.4 / 5 (9) Sep 16, 2011
Great. After a century of brainwashing by US colonialists and generations of Catholic dumbing-down, some guy in Manila fires two brain cells simultaneously to reinvent a glorified hole in the roof. I guess unloading a clip of bullets at the ceiling, popular in vampire movies and libertarian utopias like Somalia, just isn't hip anymore.

When I build tin shacks we uses a plastic insert to let light in. Silly me.
benedictbernabe
not rated yet Sep 16, 2011
How well do they work at night?
Oh, they don't work at night. They're used in the daytime. In the urban slums, houses are right beside each other and have no windows whatsoever that it's pitch-dark even during the daytime. People use electric light bulbs to light up the house. Aside from electricity bills, using light bulbs all day, everyday make them a fire hazard. So this one cuts on costs and helps in terms of safety as well.
benedictbernabe
5 / 5 (11) Sep 16, 2011
Is it just me, or could they just put a skylight in by cutting a rectangular area out of the metal roof and fitting it with a piece of glass or plastic?

I don't really understand this... just put a window in your roof...
A skylight will only light the area directly underneath it, so if you want to light up a large area, you have to cut a larger skylight and use more (expensive) material for the glass/fiberglass covering which needs to typhoon proof as well. The water in the bottle refracts sunlight so that instead of just lighting the area directly beneath it, it will light up a wider space.
wealthychef
5 / 5 (4) Sep 17, 2011
Is it just me, or could they just put a skylight in by cutting a rectangular area out of the metal roof and fitting it with a piece of glass or plastic?

I don't really understand this... just put a window in your roof...


It's more than a window -- a window would shine a bright little square straight down. This collects light from more directions, then diffuses it equally out the bottom. Better than a window per unit area.
YankInOz
5 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2011
How well do they work at night?


Obviously, you did not read the article. This is to refract sunlight. So, unless you are in a 24/7/365 daylight zone on the planet (none that I know of) it will only work during daylight hours.

I wonder what would happen if you "dimpled" the plastic, so as to increase the refractive area. May have to try that.

Thanks for the article. Nice to see alternatives for basics.
BillFox
4.1 / 5 (10) Sep 17, 2011
To the writer.
You cut holes in rooves, not roofs.
Your illiterate dictionary thinks that roofs is correct.
Don't you have any lexicologists or are they illiterate as well?
Your spastic dictionary even thinks that lexicologists is incorrect.
It would therefore appear that you do not have any lexicologists to compile your dictionary so it is left to illiterates to do the job.
No wonder we have such a proliferation of morons.


Big words don't make you sound any more intelligent and, in fact, severly hinders your points. Great job!
kochevnik
3.2 / 5 (9) Sep 17, 2011
@Au-Pu You cut holes in rooves, not roofs.
Your illiterate dictionary thinks that roofs is correct.
Don't you have any lexicologists or are they illiterate as well?
Your spastic dictionary even thinks that lexicologists is incorrect.
It would therefore appear that you do not have any lexicologists to compile your dictionary so it is left to illiterates to do the job.
No wonder we have such a proliferation of morons.
Sorry American is my third language. According to Urban Dictionary:

rooves: The plural of "roof," for people too dumb to know that the real word is "roofs."
kochevnik
1.7 / 5 (6) Sep 17, 2011
So, unless you are in a 24/7/365 daylight zone on the planet (none that I know of) it will only work during daylight hours.
This would work during our white nights in Russia and northward to the pole. Of course the water would freeze there. But then so would the Pino inventor of this technology, if he dared adapt it. Also according to some comments, climbing roofs is reckless. Obviously the only real solution is installing nuclear reactors everywhere. Especially inside people who oppose that.
abclark
5 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2011
To Au-Pu, you annoy me. Always consult your corpora before using words like lexicologist.

corpus.byu.edu/coca/
(400 million published words searched)
instances of
roofs= 2377
rooves =1

natcorp.ox.ac.uk/
(100 million words searched, British origin, extracts from regional and national newspapers, specialist periodicals and journals.)
roofs= 653
rooves=5

googlebooks.byu.edu/
(155 billion published words searched)
roofs =830,664
rooves= 959

If you have a published something and used the word rooves, I'd love to see it.
Silverhill
5 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2011
kochevnik:
I guess unloading a clip of bullets at the ceiling, popular in vampire movies and libertarian utopias like Somalia, just isn't hip anymore.
I guess that the non-rain-proof aspect of such holes didn't occur to you (if you were being serious; it seems dubitable).

When I build tin shacks we uses a plastic insert to let light in. Silly me.
Silly you, indeed, to have ignored the angular advantage of refraction through the bottle (as noted in the article).

According to Urban Dictionary:
rooves: The plural of "roof," for people too dumb to know that the real word is "roofs."
The Urban Dictionary is hardly authoritative. Check something that's more respected, such as the OED.
Musashi
5 / 5 (13) Sep 17, 2011
Personally, my "illiterate" reference is Merriam-Webster, and they say "roofs". Au-Pu, both are correct. "Rooves" is just older, and hardly used anymore. Languages are funny that way, they evolve. Some folks just get stuck in time, like you, and think any change in the language they learned, regardless of how widely accepted it is, is not the correct form. You sure missed a good chance to keep your mouth shut, and not be a complete a-hole. Cheers.
Jayman
2 / 5 (4) Sep 17, 2011
Didn't somebody invent the skylight already?
abclark
5 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2011
The difference is the quality of light. The bottle adds "dimension" whereas a hole or sheet of plastic (skylight) is very 2 dimensional. Photographers make a science out of light sources and how important it is that light have greater dimension. Try reading with a flashlight then switch to lamp and you'll understand.
ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (16) Sep 17, 2011
Maybe if the govt of RP wasn't so corrupt and embraced market principles, they wouldn't be so poor.

But this what 'progressives' want for everyone, be poor.

If everyone is poor, who will make the galvanized roofing material or the plastic bottles?
Back to nipa huts.
CHollman82
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 17, 2011
People arguing over roofs vs rooves... language is arbitrary. It doesn't matter what sounds come out of your sound hole as long as others understand what you are trying to communicate.
ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (15) Sep 17, 2011
People arguing over roofs vs rooves... language is arbitrary. It doesn't matter what sounds come out of your sound hole as long as others understand what you are trying to communicate.

If language is arbitrary, why bother with a dictionary?
That way 'progressives' can hijack words and change their meaning. 'Promoting general welfare..." becomes justification for the socialist welfare state.
ryggesogn2
1.6 / 5 (14) Sep 17, 2011
"It came from a generation of adults who believed that kids should never be allowed to fail, or told the truth about their abilities, or learn that getting what you want is sometimes hard."
{Or language is arbitrary?}

http://www.theglo...2169409/
gmurphy
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2011
The spelling is "rooves" in Australia and New Zealand, "roofs" everywhere else in the English speaking world: http://wiki.answe...r_rooves
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (11) Sep 17, 2011
How much time has been wasted having two acceptable definitions, in the same language, of one word?
But language is arbitrary, right?
_ilbud
5 / 5 (2) Sep 17, 2011
Its' roofes. Whom do you think u R?
gar37bic
5 / 5 (2) Sep 17, 2011
To the writer.
You cut holes in rooves, not roofs.
Your illiterate dictionary thinks that roofs is correct.
(further gratuitous abuse elided)

From Wikianswers.com(just one of several examples):

1. The plural of roof is roofs or rooves. "Rooves" is an older form of the word and rarely used these days. Australian children right up to the 1980s, for example, were brought up with the word "rooves" rather than roofs, and it is still an accepted form in Australia today (though uncommon). Also, despite New Zealand English developing from UK English, it should be noted that in NZ, the plural of roof is rooves, in both its written and spoken form.

2. The accepted plural is "roofs". The Oxford English Dictionary lists "rooves" as an alternate, one of several outdated spellings used in the UK, and in New England as late as the 19th century.


As for me (in the US), I pronounce it more like 'roofs' than 'rooves', and I've never in my life seen the spelling 'rooves'.
CHollman82
3.5 / 5 (11) Sep 17, 2011
If language is arbitrary, why bother with a dictionary?
That way 'progressives' can hijack words and change their meaning. 'Promoting general welfare..." becomes justification for the socialist welfare state.


Take your medicine...
draa
1 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2011
Where's the Director of NASA to tell everyone why it's wrong to give poor people lights? Surely he'll be here to enlighten us with his wisdom.

Anyway, this is a great idea that's been around forever. It's good to see someone putting simple ideas back to work.
Skepticus
1 / 5 (4) Sep 17, 2011
Now the poor scrap collectors have a new target..
TheSkeptic
1 / 5 (4) Sep 17, 2011
As cool as this is, there are better uses for purified water, you know, like giving it to poor children in Africa who are dying because they have no source of clean water.
DixiePixie11
not rated yet Sep 17, 2011
From: Dictionary.com

rooves - no dictionary results

Reindeer have hooves, but houses have roofs!
Egleton
2.3 / 5 (6) Sep 17, 2011
Is there a cheap soluble phosphor or some other chemical that will store light energy for a while at night?
Noumenon
4.2 / 5 (58) Sep 18, 2011
My dog thinks it's wruphs.

What's wrong with candles,... are they worried their dirt floor will catch fire.
Isaacsname
not rated yet Sep 18, 2011
Is there a cheap soluble phosphor or some other chemical that will store light energy for a while at night?


What about chemiluminescence ? Luciferin and luciferase. Dinoflagellate lights, you have to feed them on a regular basis though....kind of like sea monkeys...
NotParker
1.7 / 5 (12) Sep 18, 2011
And thanks to Al Gore and Obama, thats all you'll be able to afford.

No electricity for you! Too expensive.
GSwift7
2.1 / 5 (7) Sep 18, 2011
Walmart has started installing simple skylights in their stores. I wonder if this idea could be mainstramed and take hold in more commercial use here in the first world too? Skylights tend to be high maintenance, but these things should be more durable. I wouldn't mind having something like this in my home for daytime interior lighting, or at the factory where I work. A couple of simple lenses might even brighten it more. There is a huge potential energy savings here if it was installed broadly. MIT rocks. They always come up with cool stuff.
Silverhill
5 / 5 (3) Sep 18, 2011
(Noumenon)
What's wrong with candles,... are they worried their dirt floor will catch fire.
Are you being disingenuous or just clueless? A bottle has a one-time cost and is not consumed in use, unlike a candle.

Also, people (even if not floors) can get burned by a candle but not by a bottle skylight....
Eikka
1 / 5 (2) Sep 18, 2011
A bottle has a one-time cost and is not consumed in use, unlike a candle.


Although the chlorine in the bleach, and the ultraviolet in the sunlight will slowly split the polymers in the bottle until it's hard and brittle.

That's why the bottles last a couple years instead of indefinitely. You have to replace them before you get a shower of goopy water on your dining room table and a hole in your roof.

Glass bottles would fare better.
DADDYBEAR
2.3 / 5 (6) Sep 19, 2011
Why do people belittle such things by pointing out spelling or grammer to take away from the wonderful story. My new family's home is the Philippines and the people are such beautiful and happy so this little item can make a change for the good. If only a way could be made for somehting so simple and cheap for use at night. We owe the Filipino people and they love the US and english is spoken every where.
GSwift7
2.3 / 5 (9) Sep 19, 2011
We owe the Filipino people and they love the US and english is spoken every where


The same is true in Colombia, as my ex fiance and her family would gladly tell you. They love and respect the US military for what we did in that country. My ex is now a US citizen and an army Captain. She is very proud of that, and she's a hero when she goes home. They love to see her in her uniform.
Moebius
1 / 5 (5) Sep 19, 2011
There ought to be a Nobel Prize for this sort of thing. It makes such a big difference to people's lives


A Nobel for putting a window in a windowless house for light? This has been done with glass for centuries. Even on ships they put glass prisms on decks to light up the deck below, essentially the same thing.
Dug
1 / 5 (3) Sep 19, 2011
Agreed from a new tech standpoint, this is the sort of mental dandruff that plagues the internet tech "news." The article didn't point out that this technology is absolutely certain to create a new leak in these single layer roofs.
ricarguy
1 / 5 (4) Sep 19, 2011
Back to the article at hand:
Sounds leaky in the rain or a little 1 kg bomb dropping on the unsuspecting in strong wind or other physical disturbance.
What they need is a "squatty", wide bottle (transmitting more light) with an appropriate flange molded into it to sit on the roof top to 1) keep the silly thing from falling through and 2)can be used as part of a seal.

Better yet, why not just a small panel with a diffusing Fresnel pattern molded into the underside of it?
dnatwork
5 / 5 (1) Sep 19, 2011
This would work during our white nights in Russia and northward to the pole. Of course the water would freeze there. But then so would the Pino inventor of this technology, if he dared adapt it. Also according to some comments, climbing roofs is reckless. Obviously the only real solution is installing nuclear reactors everywhere. Especially inside people who oppose that.


kochevnik, just solve this the way Russians usually do: vodka. Or maybe that's the source of your attitude.
tadchem
not rated yet Sep 21, 2011
Back in the late 1960's I toured the Spanish Navy training schooner Elcano while it was docked in San Francisco, CA. They had 10-cm holes in the deck that were plugged with solid glass inserts (deck prisms) to provide light below:
njscuba.net/zzz_artifacts/emerald_deck_pism.jpg
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (2) Sep 23, 2011
"Maybe if the govt of RP wasn't so corrupt and embraced market principles, they wouldn't be so poor.: - RyggTard

America provides a fine counterexample of how a nation that has more strongly embraced market principles has been gutted of it's industry, it sources of wealth, and the welfare and future of it's people.

It has been 32 years since the Free Market Reagan Republican Revolution.

Are you better off now then you were then?
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (2) Sep 24, 2011
"No electricity for you! Too expensive." - NoParkerTard

American losers who can't afford the electricity they consume, should consume less.
steve lynham
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2011
Although slightly off the subject (as others did in the whole roofs/rooves thing) I have to agree that the Filipino people are quite amazing. They suffer such terrible hardships but retain a sense of happiness. I hope the US (and other Nations) treasures them because here in the UK our right-wing coalition government is fast throwing them out (including students) to appease the appetite of a mindless, moronic population which thinks getting rid of people who are working for low wages or are students will solve our economic mess ... Oh and the basically lazy UK people will not do those 'dirty' jobs for the minimum wage. I predict our Care Homes will soon be short of staff (or, at least, CARING staff) and our country filthy as we lose our cleaners. And what is the replacement for these kind, English-speaking people? Hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans who sometimes do not understand one word of English and some of whom bring their criminality with them.