In the village of Nuevo Saposoa, it is damp, dense, and continually at the will of the elements. No surprises, this remote region of Peru has one of the country's lowest rates of access to electricity. Despite this, it's enveloped by one of nature's greatest powerhouses of organic energy – the Amazon rainforest.
Putting two and two together, scientists were inspired by the surrounding ecosystem and developed a lamp powered by plants. The lamp, called the Plantalámpara, is fuelled by nutrients and bacteria found in soil that plants release during their growth. The system contains a grid that's capable of catching electrons released by this organic matter when oxidized, which are then used to feed the bulb.
The lamp was designed by a team of scientists and students at Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC) in Lima, Peru. It has the ability to shine for two hours per day through the use of a low energy LED lamp.
Nuevo Saposoa, Ucayali has been held back by its lack of infrastructure and remoteness. A central part of this problem was limited access to electricity. The area was hit by a flood earlier this year in March and, since then, has been relying on expensive kerosene lamps that emit harmful fumes.
In a statement by the university, the group said they had given 10 prototype lamps to the village to help address the impact the lack of electricity has had on their village's “social, educational and family development.”
“We put the plant and soil into a wooden plant pot together with a previously established and properly protected irrigation system. Then, inside the pot we place the energy generation system that we created which stores soil and electrodes capable of converting plant nutrients into electric energy,” Elmer Ramirez, a professor of Energy and Power Engineering at UTEC, added in the statement.
“We made proper use of the Amazon region’s own natural resources such as the soil and plants, in harmony with the environment without any impact whatsoever on the forest.
“We are positive that this will result in a better quality of life for community families because by using the Plantalámpara, they will have access to renewable energy to provide light to their homes for use by the children during their school work study hours or during work hours to produce and sell their products and with this, contribute to the self-sustainability of the population.”