Indian solar lantern wins aid innovation challenge

Mićo Tatalović

Mićo Tatalović
News editor, SciDev.Net

An innovation fully invented, developed and produced in India has won the AidEx Innovation Challenge award. The award was announced yesterday (24 October) by a panel of three judges, all innovators themselves.

The lamp was the product of a brainstorming session followed by two years of research and development, including field testing the lamp in India, Divyesh Thakkar, a partner with the Sunlite project that developed the lamp, told SciDev.Net.

The solar lantern resembles and is meant to replace a common kerosene lantern, which is costly, dangerous (burns and fumes) and harmful to the environment (carbon dioxide emissions). The solar lamp is cheap (no need for fuels – it is powered by sunlight) and does not emit any gases. It is also extremely robust – as demonstrated by throwing it on the floor with no visible damage.

Solar lantern (Credit: Sunlite Solar)

One of the judges, Michael Pritchard, inventor and chairman of LifeSaver Systems, said the lamp was “really innovative, with lots of great, thought-through features”.It wasn’t an easy job for the judges, as the other shortlisted innovations presented at the awards ceremony were equally appealing: the first foldable tap stand (FASTAP); a thirst aid bag; and portable solar lights.

The FASTAP, currently being tested in Ethiopia, takes under a minute to assemble on site, and provides six easy-to-use taps to connect to local water sources, each capable of handling 20 liters of water in under three minutes. It has been designed to minimise the risk of infection. For example, compared to traditional taps in use it reduces drinking water’s contact with hands and the opening on the water container, both of which may contain dirt and bacteria.

The thirst aid bag has a large opening on one side – so even a person in distress after an emergency can easily fill it – which closes with a Velcro mechanism, and an opening for drinking on the other side. The filter removes microorganisms and chemicals (such a pesticides in case of a flood): as was demonstrated at the awards ceremony by filling it with a black mixture of horse manure and giving the water filtered in seconds to the judges and the audience. A single filter will last a family of four for one month of use: it will filter around 1,000 litres of water at a cost of some 3 pence per litre.

Commenting on the shortlisted innovators at the award ceremony, Trevor Baylis, inventor of the wind-up radio, said: “These people have got the guts to get off their back and do something”.

This blog post is part of our blog on AidEx2012, which takes place on 24-25 October 2012 in Brussels.

One Response to Indian solar lantern wins aid innovation challenge

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