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Gleaner Tech #3: Discarded Laptop Batteries Keep Lights On for Poor

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A prototype with DC appliances connected.
A prototype with DC appliances connected.
[Note: See this introduction post for an explanation of gleaner technology.]

Forty percent of the world’s population, including a significant portion of the rural and urban poor sections of the population in India, does not have access to reliable electricity supply. But a new energy source for them could come from an unlikely source: the 50 million lithium-ion laptop batteries are thrown away in the U.S. every year.

According to MIT Technology Review, researchers at IBM Research India in Bangalore found that at least 70 percent of all discarded batteries have enough life left to power an LED light at least four hours a day for a year:

The IBM group, working with a hardware R&D firm called RadioStudio, tore open discarded laptop battery packaging and extracted individual storage units called cells, tested those individually to pick out the good ones, and recombined them to form refurbished battery packs. Then, after adding charging dongles as well as circuitry to prevent overheating, they gave them to five users in Bangalore who lived in slums or operated sidewalk carts.

[. . .]

IBM is not considering this as a business but says the technology could be offered free to poor countries.

You can read IBM’s research paper here.

Other Posts in This Series:

Gleaner Technology

Solar Bottle Lights in the Philippines

The Global Village Construction Set

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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