Aisa Mijeno announced her lamp powered by saline solution, during a forum for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit 2015 in Manila recently. She got a huge pat from US President Obama.
“The danger in (kerosene) lamps is it could cause fire accidents. We want to provide a lighting option that is more cost-effective, safer, more sustainable and environmentally friendly by way of a lantern that uses saline solution or ocean water, as a catalyst to generate electricity,” Mijeno said.
The lamp provides about eight hours of light, as well as power to a USB port for charging a phone. All you need to do is to replenish the saltwater solution for it to work again for another eight hours.
The salt lamp uses a fairly ordinary galvanic battery that consists of two electrodes and an electrolyte solution of salty water. Replenishing the saltwater will indeed get the lamp going again, but you also need to replace the anode every six months or so. There’s no magic here, but there is a substantial engineering challenge. “It is made of tediously experimented and improved chemical compounds, catalysts, and metal alloys that when submerged in electrolytes will generate electricity,” Mijeno explained.
The other challenge is being able to manufacture the lamp so that it’s reliable, cheap, and easy to maintain. If Mijeno’s lamp works as advertised, it will produce about 90 lumens of light at a cost of $20, plus $3 every six months for a replacement anode. She hopes to have it on the market in 2016.