Here’s a very interesting new concept currently in its development stage, with first trial units slated to ship in March 2013.
Expressed simply, just like how old clocks were powered by weights that you’d lift up and then slowly sink down as they drove the clock’s mechanism, here is a light that uses a similar weight system for power. The user pulls the 20lb weight at the end of the cord to the top and then as it slowly descends, the weight drives a generator to produce electricity which is used to power a LED light.
Currently, the potential energy created by lifting this 20lb weight just a few feet, and taking just a few seconds, creates enough power for the light to function for 20 – 30 minutes, depending on if it is set for high or low brightness. It can also be used as a power source to recharge small electronic items.
When mass production is commenced, it is expected the unit cost will drop down to $5 or less.
A second model is already being planned, and is targeted to have improved efficiencies to create twice as much power per pound/foot of weight movement – ie, it could give twice as bright a light, or twice the length of illumination.
Looking into the future, with heavier weights and longer drop distances, the underlying concept becomes an interesting way of storing modest amounts of energy for subsequent use – for example, power from solar cells or a wind turbine could be used to life up the weight while the sun was shining or wind blowing, and then at night or during calm conditions, the stored power could be slowly released as needed. The great thing about such a system is that there is no energy loss during its period of being stored, and it is a very ‘low tech’ and long-lived system good for many thousands of cycles.
Although currently intended as a low-cost light source for African villages and villagers, this has a clear application for preppers, too. We’re not suggesting you should invest in the company’s funding request, but we are suggesting you should keep an eye on the technology. The comments section on the funding site have some interesting suggestions for additional applications, too.
More details can also be seen on the developer’s website, here.