While stationed as a volunteer in the Republic of Kiribati, the lack of twilight lighting was a major issue for volunteers and students alike. Given the fact that many of the houses in the surrounding government stations would have solar or generator-powered fluorescent lighting, they were still of no help to the volunteers and I-Kiribati (native Kiribati) in the outer villages who only had oil lamps in which to study, cook and work. In some areas of the world children are able to improvise. However, isolated countries like Kiribati have little to offer in terms of industrial faculty and resourcefulness (when Air Kiribati was actually running, we only had one scheduled flight to and from our island per week).
We might take efficient lighting for granted in developed countries but as you can see from the Peace Corps project donation site, power and energy are on-going projects in a large portion of under-developed countries. With the understanding that lighting facilitates a higher standard of living, I've been looking anxiously for a simple solution.
I happened across Mathmos.com and and lit up when I saw their 9Volt project:
Clean, simple, undemanding design at its best.
BUT-there's always a but...
Are they over-priced? Yes. (I love the wine glasses)
At a sale price of 5 for $100, I don't see them falling into the hands of Guinea seventh graders any time soon.
Are they renewable? Not necessarily.
As the US industrialized, our position in the global pecking order proffered us the ability to progress at any speed we felt necessary - with or without the concerns of the environment at our conscience (See: Northwest Atlantic Cod - even in the early 90's!). So while many of these countries might not have a capable means to dispose of the batteries, it is unfortunately viable that they are so readily available. Why not afford them the same opportunities we had so that we may only need to teach one generation?* So...
...are the batteries really a problem? Not necessarily.
Take this design and do what inventors have been doing for years: run with it. Replace the battery with solar cells...what about higher lumen LED's... or non-electrochemical envirofriendly cells...maybe a secondary battery with a crank chargeable attachment for a bike chain...include a hand crank to store the charge...*subsidize the distribution with the help of a battery directive...and so on and so on and so on. If a concept like OLPC is plausible, then a battery/LED project is a piece of cake!
Just some thoughts for your Thursday morning...