Columbia grads design solar-pillow lights for global village

Nov 16, 2011 by Nancy Owano report

(PhysOrg.com) -- World populations who live without electricity including those in disaster-stricken areas in the wake of floods, earthquakes, and other calamities are who two Columbia University graduates want to help. That is why they have launched their campaign to deliver their solar-rechargeable lamp that packs flat and inflates to create a lightweight, waterproof lantern.

Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta, graduates from the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, have a goal to bring their solar-powered pillows to victims of as well as the world’s needy. Their design, LuminAID,at first glance looks like a small boutique store carrier bag with a handle.

LuminAID is actually an inflatable plastic pillow with a thin solar panel and two coin cell batteries. The package can be inflated and deflated down to where it can be packed completely flat. Photovoltaic film is laminated to polyethelenevinyl acetate plastic. The LuminAID device inflates to produce a quality of light similar to a lantern. A white-dot pattern on the device diffuses the light.

It’s good for up to four hours of lighting at 35 lumens, or up to six hours at 20 lumens. The four hour setting, which is “High,” is designed for reading and task work. The six hour setting, which is “Low,” can provide households without the light they need for safety or as a simple night light.

Four to six hours of sunlight are required for charging. The battery can be charged 800 times.

Stork and Shreshta consider the lamp as a good alternative to dangerous kerosene lamps, which many global households with no access to electricity continue to use. Stories surface of small children and adults seriously burned from falling kerosene lamps or from lamps accidentally overturned. The LuminAID broader mission is to just bring light in an affordable size and design to those who need it.

Their plan to engineer the effort includes a “Buy One, Give One” concept. The LuminAID light is to sell for $25 (suggested uses are for travel or camping).

Money which the LuminAID Fund collects will go to sending the lights to needy sites around the world. Desirable purposes for the light are so that families can read, write, and cook, so that students can study longer, and businesses can stay open later, as well as for disaster relief.

As a field test, LuminAID is working with organizations to distribute the in Rajasthan, India, where they say one in two households lack electricity. The LuminAID lights will be used in rural schools, homes and by small-business owners.

When the campaign ends, say the two LuminAID co-founders, they will place an order with their manufacturer. They say they expect to ship all pledge packages to backers by January 2012.

Explore further: First of four Fukushima reactors cleared of nuclear fuel

More information: www.luminaidlab.com/

Related Stories

Solar Cells with LEDs Provide Inexpensive Lighting

Nov 09, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Of the 1.5 billion people in developing countries who do not have electricity, many rely on kerosene lamps for light after the sun goes down. But now, researchers from Denmark have designed ...

Brightest LED Puts Light Bulbs in the Shade

Jun 14, 2005

Osram has developed the world’s brightest white light-emitting diode. Known as Ostar Lighting, this LED supplies 200 lumens, thus literally putting light bulbs and neon lamps in the shade. Previously, the brightest LED ...

One million Bangladesh homes on solar power

Jun 15, 2011

The number of households in electricity-starved Bangladesh using solar panels has crossed the one million mark -- the fastest expansion of solar use in the world, officials said Wednesday.

A bright future with solar lanterns for India's poor

Apr 27, 2009

Solar energy has the potential to improve the living conditions of poor rural households in India as well as contribute to the country's future energy security, according to Professor Govindasamy Agoramoorthy from Tajen University, ...

Think Solar Solutions: Outdoor Lantern & World Band Radio

Oct 01, 2007

Several new solar powered items caught my eye. The Discovery Outdoor Lantern has a multi-source power solution for camping and outdoor activities. In a fixed position it becomes an incandescent spotlight. The World Band Solar ...

Recommended for you

The state of shale

Dec 19, 2014

University of Pittsburgh researchers have shared their findings from three studies related to shale gas in a recent special issue of the journal Energy Technology, edited by Götz Veser, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Che ...

Website shines light on renewable energy resources

Dec 18, 2014

A team from the University of Arizona and eight southwestern electric utility companies have built a pioneering web portal that provides insight into renewable energy sources and how they contribute to the ...

Better software cuts computer energy use

Dec 18, 2014

An EU research project is developing tools to help software engineers create energy-efficient code, which could reduce electricity consumption at data centres by up to 50% and improve battery life in smart ...

User comments : 8

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mrtea
5 / 5 (2) Nov 16, 2011
This reminds me of the soda bottle sun light:
http://www.gizmag...t/19829/

It seems that solutions can be found to many problems using human ingenuity, available resources and imagination, rather than over-complicating and adding enormous expense.
ScienceFreak86
not rated yet Nov 16, 2011
They should go to dragons den. I am sure they would receive 1 mln $ :)
Isaacsname
not rated yet Nov 16, 2011
These could lead to some pretty nifty breast implants o,O

It's an interesting design concept, but I'm not really too impressed. Those things would just end up joining the garbage and detritus that already seems to be ubiquitous in many " 3rd world " countries. It's an inflatable lamp for cris'sake.

I've seen more interesting designs using Earth batteries, like this:

http://www.youtub...8ys8m0-4

Things like that can be cobbled out of existing junk.
Shootist
not rated yet Nov 16, 2011
Perhaps it would be better to allow the "developing world" to develop, on their own? Prime Directive, and all that.
Pirouette
3 / 5 (2) Nov 16, 2011
Two questions come to mind regarding these solar pillows.
1) How UV resistant are they?
Cheap plastics deteriorate quickly in the sun.
2) Will replacement batteries be readily available?
Dirt poor people don't usually have access to a Walmart or even a hardware store.

Nice to know that at least SOME Columbia U. grads are less likely to involve themselves with waste of time nonsense like OWS, presumably.
mrlewish
1 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2011
I can think of something else that comes in a plastic bag that works. It's called a condom.
MarkyMark
5 / 5 (1) Nov 17, 2011
I can think of something else that comes in a plastic bag that works. It's called a condom.

Its a shame your parents didnt use any.
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (7) Nov 24, 2011
Perhaps it would be better to allow the "developing world" to develop, on their own? Prime Directive, and all that.


If we are following the Prime Directive it is important to note the United Federation of Planets is a socialist utopia.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.