IBM: Old Laptop Batteries Can Power Slums, Light Up Homes

IBM: Old Laptop Batteries Can Power Slums, Light Up Homes

A study conducted by IBM in India has found that old laptop batteries (e-waste), deemed useless by most accounts, still possess enough juice in them to power homes in the slums of India and other economically-disadvantaged regions. If executed properly, the advent of this reusable energy source could help to somewhat address India’s serious energy poverty issues. It could also help developing countries throughout the world.

Through a trial conducted in India’s fifth-largest metropolitan city of Bangalore this year, IBM researchers created a series of adapted power packs called UrJars — using lithium-ion cells from discarded laptop batteries — and found that they could provide light for up to four hours a day for one year, according to the BBC. These UrJars could prove to be especially valuable for Indian street vendors who are not hooked into the power grids in India. 

It could also help to drastically alter the lives of poor families who are living in the slums; in third world countries where basic necessities seen as commonplace in other parts of the world do not exist, such an innovation could open doors to avenues as simple as providing the ability for children to read books at night

UrJars could achieve two major things: They could help India alleviate the massive e-waste predicament it faces (India receives the majority of unwanted technology and computers from other countries) and tackle an affordable, cost-effective way to provide light to those who need it. India’s booming IT market also generates a massive amount of e-waste of its own, the BBC notes. 

In Hindi, “urja” is the word for energy; UrJar appears to be a multilingual play on words by combining the Hindi term for energy and adding the Western term “jar” to it.

Researchers say the UrJars will cost approximately 600 Indian rupees (about £6 or $11). They are also less expensive than using solar energy. However, word on the street suggests that IBM is seeking to give these UrJars away for free to those who need them.

Approximately 400 million people in India could benefit from this reusable power source. With time, that number could increase.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz