Solar Bottle Lamps: Water + Bleach = 10,000 Liters of Light

Who says you can’t bottle (and distribute) genius? Developed in Brazil to address under-illuminated slums, this simple design idea has been adopted by MIT students and expanded to other developing areas where many low-income homes lack access to either daylight or electricity.

The physics of the concept are straightforward: the bottles are placed in roofs – half outside, half inside – and their lower portions refract light like 60-Watt light bulb but without the need for a power source. A few drops of bleach serve to keep the water clear, clean and germ-free for years to come.

In total, one of these do-it-yourself lights takes maybe an hour to install, cutting an appropriate hole, inserting a bleached-water-filled bottle, and resealing around the resulting gap. Even where clean water is rare, a little can generally be spared for a half-decade of lighting.

We take for granted our electric lights, windows and skylights to access the sun’s glow, but for those living in close-together shacks with corrugated-metal roofs, a stray ray is welcome, and something that can spread light to the darkest interior corners can be a dream come true.

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