The Water Light Bulb Exemplifies Simplicity and Sustainability

Born out of necessity in 2002 during an extended power outage in Brazil, Alfredo Moser created an innovative solution to keep light flowing in his workshop. He cut holes in the roof of his workshop and hung water-filled bottles; the water refracted the light so it spread through the house instead of a focused beam at one point that a skylight would produce. He added bleach to keep the water clear and microbe-free.

Moser effectively invented a new type of light bulb, one that uses sunlight, water, and discarded plastic bottles. Prehaps one of the greatest examples of upcycling to date. The idea was so simple and effective that it quickly spread through the Brazilian neighborhood.

The water light bulb can emit the equivalent of a 55-watt electric bulb and last as long as 5 years. The device is simple to make and, with excess plastic bottles readily available, supplies are inexpensive and easy to come by.

This video here exemplifies the simple technology that literally lights up lives, directly improving quality of life without a massive footprint. This is the type of innovation and effort is what Innovation Diaries is proud to help share with the rest of the world. Just watch.

The idea has spread across the globe and has inspired similar projects in the Philippines and the Middle East. The project in the Philippines is probably the most widespread use of the water light bulb because of Mr. Illac Diaz and his organization MyShelter which sponsors the program Isang Litrong Liwanag (“A Liter of Light”) (

Diaz was part of student project group that focused on appropriate technologies (low cost, green design for people in developing countries) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he attended in 2005 as a Fulbright-Humphrey Scholar and Research Fellow in a Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS). Diaz recognized how applicable the technology of a solar light bulb was for the urban and rural poor communities in his native Philippines.

The Liter of Light program strives to bring sustainable lighting to disprivileged communities by providing the eco-friendly Solar Bottle Bulb to poor communities throughout the country. Their goal is to light the homes of a million families by 2012 using only the water light bulb.

The Philippines is similar to other non-Western countries. According to a 2009 study by the National Electrification Commission, 3 million households remained powerless outside of Metro Manila. Even within the metropolitan city limits several families do not have access to indoor lights and those that do have a high risk for fire hazards from faulty wiring.

A Liter of Light accepts both financial and service donations. Recently, hundreds of volunteers participated in Metro Manila day and installed thousands of solar bulbs in 17 cities in the Philippines. -KATHY FAIRCHILD

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