Impact Journalism Day by Sparknews: A better community - No. 10

Lamp powered by salt solution lights up rural communities

Above: The SALt lamp uses a mixture of salt and water to energise a light-emitting diode. It also has a USB port for charging gadgets. Right: SALt seeks to provide a sustainable alternative source of lighting to communities that rely on kerosene lamp
SALt seeks to provide a sustainable alternative source of lighting to communities that rely on kerosene lamps.PHOTO: SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVE LIGHTING
Above: The SALt lamp uses a mixture of salt and water to energise a light-emitting diode. It also has a USB port for charging gadgets. Right: SALt seeks to provide a sustainable alternative source of lighting to communities that rely on kerosene lamp
Above: The SALt lamp uses a mixture of salt and water to energise a light-emitting diode. It also has a USB port for charging gadgets.PHOTO: SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVE LIGHTING

MANILA • It all started with the idea of illuminating the darkest communities in the Philippines using a staple commodity.

In 2011, during an immersion trip with a local tribe in the northern province of Kalinga, Ms Aisa Mijeno came up with the idea for the Sustainable Alternative Lighting, or SALt, lamp.

More than four years later, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Manila in November 2015, Ms Mijeno shared the stage with US President Barack Obama to discuss the project.

During the discussion, she explained the concept of SALt, which uses a saline solution to power LED lamps and a USB port that can charge smartphones.

Mr Obama, who led the panel discussion after his speech at the Apec CEO Summit, was impressed with the presentation of the young engineer.

 

Ms Mijeno says the main objective of SALt is to illuminate rural communities in the country and help them switch from the use of kerosene.

Further development of the prototype for the lamp came about in 2014 when SALt joined Ideaspace, a local incubator that selects start-ups to fund and develop.

The SALt lamp uses the science behind the "Galvanic cell", which is the basis for battery-making. But instead of electrolytes, it uses a non-toxic saline solution to make the entire process safe and harmless.

"There are over 7,000 islands in the Philippines and most of these islands do not have access to electricity. We want to eliminate the sustaining cost in areas that rely on kerosene-powered and battery-powered lamps and candles as their main source of lighting," the start-up's website reads.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2016, with the headline 'Lamp powered by salt solution lights up rural communities'. Print Edition | Subscribe