Researchers at IBM claim that 70% of the world’s discarded laptop batteries cold be used to power lighting in locations where electricity supplies are unreliable, such as slums and other impoverished areas. Their study suggests that these batteries could make LED lighting much more affordable than either solar panels or rechargeable batteries.
The groups of scientists, who’re based in Bangalore, managed to develop some prototype devices that can be used to provide several hours of light to people who aren’t connected to an electrical grid, according to Popular Science. The prototypes are called UrJar, a combination of the Hindi words for energy (urja) and box (jar).
“The most costly component in these systems is often the battery,” says Vikas Chandan, a research scientist at the lab’s Smarter Energy Group, who led the project, as quoted by Technology Review. “In this case, the most expensive part of your storage solution is coming from trash.”
According to Geeks Are Sexy, several people from Bangalore without mains power in their home were interviewed about how they powered lighting with rechargeable batteries, the majority of which reported that, while their setup functioned, it wasn’t able to provide them with power for as long as they needed.
These people were each given an UrJar to test at their home or place of business, and all of them reported getting four to six hours of daily use without a hitch, with the consensus being that four hours was the minimum requirement to have a good home life or keep their business open after dark. Some even went three days without ever having to recharge it.