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Solar Bottle Bulbs bring light to poor communities

A simple, affordable technology is poised to bring light to millions without electricity.

Solar Bottle Bulbs consist only of water, household bleach and a recycled 1.5-liter soda bottle. With these simple ingredients, the power of sunlight can be harnessed to provide an economically and ecologically sustainable light source to disadvantaged communities.

Social entrepreneur Illac Diaz, with his MyShelter Foundation, is leading the Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project in the Philippines. Since February, the project has introduced Solar Bottle Bulbs to hundreds of households and aims to brighten one million homes by the end of the year.

The Solar Bottle Bulb was designed and developed by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology based on the principles of Appropriate Technologies - a concept that provides simple and easily replicable technologies that address basic needs in developing communities.

The simple green technology requires only a plastic soda bottle, water and bleach. To make a Solar Bottle Bulb, fill the bottle with purified water, add two capfuls of liquid bleach (to inhibit the growth of microorganisms), and tightly seal the cap. The bottle can be inserted into a hole in the roof so that the bottom part of the bottle is exposed to the sunlight. The water inside the bottle refracts sunlight, creating an artificial light that can emit the equivalent of a 55-watt electric lamp.

Solar Bottle Bulbs could bring more than just light to communities in the Philippines. The technology is also saving families money on electricity and decreasing the risk of fires from faulty electrical connections, candles, and kerosene lamps. Sustainable, inexpensive technologies like this provide practical solutions to both social and environmental issues in the communities that need them most. 

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