A Liter of Light: Using Plastic Bottles, Water, Bleach and the Sun to Light Homes

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It is hard to believe that empty plastic bottles and bleach could be used for anything sustainable. But these are some of the things that students present as part of our sustainable energy future during the World Resources Forum in Davos this year.

A simple PET bottle can provide 55-Watt of free light, according to LoL

Photo courtesy of Liter of Light

A simple PET bottle can provide 55-Watt of free light, according to Liter of Light.

Liter of Light Switzerland (LoL) is part of a larger movement that works towards bringing eco-friendly “bottled light” to communities with no electricity. Through the use of plastic bottles, water, bleach, sun and a bit of special glue, they aim to spread an alternative cheap source of energy.

At the World Resources Forum in Davos, the organization’s representative Matthias Hefele, a student from University of St. Gallen who is also the Head of the Business Development of the organization in Switzerland, tells a Student Reporter more about the solar bottle movement.

“Did you know that a simple PET bottle can provide 55-Watt of free light?” is written on a small card in front of Matthias’s working station for the day. This new version of light can bring light into underprivileged households during the day. The liquid inside the bottle consists of purified water and 10 milliliters of bleach. Sticking the bottle with glue to the roof harnesses the light from the sun. The captured light is then diffracted to all parts of the room. The bleach is needed in order to prevent the water to stay clean and no algae to grow inside and turn the water green.

The Swiss chapter was founded by 10 graduate students in 2011. LoL originates from Philippines, where in the beginning they started just with one bottle light. The original movement ended up lightening 28 000 homes or 70 000 people just for their first area. The future prospects of the movement are to install one million bottle lights around the world by 2015.

“When you install a bottle of light in a household that currently has no electricity you see how immediately the light attracts many of people living around,” said Hefele.

The liquid inside the bottle consists of purified water and 10 milliliters of bleach.

Photo courtesy of Liter of Light

The liquid inside the bottle consists of purified water and 10 milliliters of bleach.

Some of the important projects for Liter of Light Switzerland were developed in Hyperabad and Mumbai, India. For their first one, the Swiss organization successfully approached two universities and two schools, where they were able to find the most knowledge of how to achieve the final goals and where social entrepreneurship could easily establish roots. An improvement they implemented was the installment of the bottle lights to cement roofs. To do this, they got in contact with an engineer who developed night version.

Apart from Asia, the organization has projects in Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) and South America (Columbia and Mexico).

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