Colombian renewable energy start-up E-Dina and WPP’s Wunderman Thompson Colombia division have developed a device which converts salt water into electrical power.
WaterLight is a portable light that can turn half a litre of salt water into 45 days of light, according to Wunderman Thompson.
It has been prompted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which showed 840 million people worldwide are currently without access to electricity.
Meanwhile, worldwide demand for electricity continues to grow anually and traditional fossil fuel resources are set to deplete.
How it works
WaterLight works through ionisation. Electrical energy is produced when salt water electrolytes react with magnesium inside the device.
As well as a portable light source, WaterLight also charges small devices through a USB port. In emergency situations, it can be powered by urine.
Wundermann Thompson explains that inspiration came from traditional practices of the Wayuu, an indigenous community in the La Guajira peninsula on the Colombia-Venezuela border.
The desert landscape is surrounded by the sea and has limited access to electricity. It’s hoped that the WaterLight will help the community use the sea water to sustainably power their lives without needing to travel to find power. One intended use is to help night fishing, for example.
WaterLight is decorated with traditional symbols and patterns while the wooden surface echoes the ancient art of Kanas weaving. The strap has been created by local craftswomen and incorporates artisanal methods.
The device is waterproof and made from recyclable material and has an expected lifetime of around 5,600 hours which equates to two or three years of use, according to Wunderman Thompson.
Wunderman Thompson global chief creative officer Bas Korsten says: “WaterLight demonstrates how the holy trinity of technology, creativity and humanity can produce a genuinely groundbreaking idea – one which holds the potential to transform life for millions of people.”
WaterLight is poised for a worldwide roll-out, according to the company, adding that many nations such as Sierra Leone and Syria are in similar positions to La Guajira.
The product is available for purchase by NGOs, governments and private organisations.