# Gravity Light

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by cosmictotem, Dec 10, 2012.

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1. ### cosmictotemRegistered Senior Member

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http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/282006

"GravityLight is a revolutionary new approach to storing energy and creating illumination. It takes only 3 seconds to lift the weight which powers GravityLight, creating 30 minutes of light on its descent. For free."

3. ### originIn a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect.Valued Senior Member

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Not exactly revolutionary but a good simple application. I had a hand crank emergency radio years back with a rechargable battery for bad weather.

5. ### cosmictotemRegistered Senior Member

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Agreed, not revolutionary but the difference between this and a hand crank radio is the work over most of the time is being done by what is effectively a "robot" (the weight) that we set in motion (the equivalent of flicking a switch.) So the work is being transferred away from human power to automated power. That is an important distinction, however small the power generation, especially in this day and age of low powered devices.

Last edited: Dec 10, 2012

7. ### RhaedasValued Senior Member

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I think more important is the issue that is pointed out in the kickstarter link, that third world areas can use this to replace more dangerous light sources, like kerosene, and it definitely surpasses solar as an option, as anyone could use it (well, anyone in a gravity field

). Not limited to sunny weather, no battery issues, etc.

8. ### cosmictotemRegistered Senior Member

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The third world is the primary beneficiary, yes. The secondary beneficiary is campers and backpackers the world over get an awesome emergency (or even primary) light source.

9. ### NasorValued Senior Member

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Seems like bullshit. They say it runs for 30 minutes with a 20lb (9 kg) weight. They don't say how high it is, but if it's 3meters, that's only 265 J of energy...not really enough to light anything for more than a few minutes. At 30 minutes, that's only 150 mW...assuming magic perfect conversion of gravitational potential energy in electricity.

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With 30+ days to go, looks like they are going to meet their $55,000 goal easily. So we will see. 11. ### NasorValued Senior Member Messages: 6,221 I would be willing to bet money that it's not going to work as well as they are leading people to believe. For comparison, a dinky little LED keychain flashlight will usually be about 1 watt...and those aren't nearly as bright as the kerosene lanterns that these are intended to replace. To get that much light, you will probably need like 4-5 watts. At just 150 mW this thing would produce a light that you would be able to see in a dark room, but I don't think it would be enough to actually do anything useful. Of course, it would be nice if I was wrong... 12. ### cosmictotemRegistered Senior Member Messages: 748 I use LED lights of varying strengths at home sometimes and even a little light just to get around at night is useful. I plan to live off grid soon and that is why I am experimenting with LED lanterns and lights, btw. 13. ### Aqueous Idflat Earth skepticValued Senior Member Messages: 6,152 Thanks for the link. This is on par with the projects to provide Africans mosquito netting, to reduce the cost of HIV cocktails--and, if you back far enough--to teach farmers irrigation and crop rotation techniques. There are few ideas in modern science that stand apart like this, to seek ways to relieve misery. I have been in places that could benefit from even the slightest help from the outside world, where there are no utilities whatsoever, and it gets pitch black at night. Even a dim light could make a huge difference. On the flip side: I see their point about the device paying for itself in 3 months, for an average outlay of$3/mo for kerosene. But I have a feeling the end users are still going to want their kerosene. It's low maintenance and probably brighter and more practical. It can be used as a solvent and for cooking. I would take just enough out of the fund, if I were them, to travel to a couple of sites and hand out demo units, to see if people would actually give up their kerosene.

We had a prior thread concerning dead load power generation. It came to mind when the guy in the clip mentioned filling the bag with sand:

For off-grid living, it might be useful to think of energy capture and storage in as many forms as one might imagine. Lifting a dead load has limitations in terms of energy capacity, but it has certain advantages, like reliability and simplicity. It might be worth having a dead load generator for a short burst of power in some emergency situation.

A couple of things to experiment with: a bicycle with a wheel generator mounted on a stand, such that the wheel sprocket can be tied to a dead load. Another primitive idea is to hang an auto wheel from a high sturdy branch of a tall tree, such that it functions like a pulley wheel. Any natural overhang, such as a cliff, or the rim of a gorge, might be exploited. An existing shaft or well, if the bore is large enough, might be exploited more safely. Still, these are very large loads producing small amounts of energy storage.

The maximum energy in Joules is 9.8 mh, where m is the mass of the dead load in kg, and h is the height in meters. Lifting 1 kg 1 meter only develops a measly 9.8 J, which is just one Watt for 9.8 seconds (or 9.8 Watts for a second, or any other combination whose product is 9.8).

Compare this to a lead acid car battery with 90 minute reserve rating (@25A). (90)(60)(12V)(25A) = 1.6 MJ. Divide by 9.8 to get the equivalent mass-height product: it's 165,306. That's equivalent to lifting 400 kg (a piano) to a height of over 400 m (100 stories or more)!

For your off-grid use, you might think of what the upper limit might be for emergency power (when all batteries fail). It would give you an idea of how to scale the low capacity of a dead load generator to a some feasible size.

14. ### kwhilbornBannedBanned

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A used car alternator and a battery could provide hours of fun for the villagers as long as they have a portable DVD player and a few new releases. Have a local river power the alternator and you could turn them into couch potatoes.

Give them educational videos on how to dig wells and purify water, etc.

Yeah! Car alternators can give you plenty Redneck Energy. Just have them pushed by wind/river.

Are you involved in this Cosmic Totem?

I would think light is not very important for third world countries. I saw people living in windowless shacks in Jamaica that likely had a better quality of life than many Americans. Who needs a bath when there is an Ocean there? If it's dark go to bed.

There are 1001 ways to build a candle. Why not make some Picture instructions based on their local plant/wildlife, and show them how a candle is made. Technology more advanced than the society will likely get broken, worshipped, or traded too often.

I backpacked during my University summers and saw a small cabin and one tent burn down because of candles, and refuse to have candles in my home unless they are tip proof (in jars, etc).

Oil lamps would be a nice next step.

Living off the grid should be low tech for the most part unless you have access to a repair shop every Thursday. I know we all NEED WiFi, but Internet and candlelight can be nice.

15. ### cosmictotemRegistered Senior Member

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I'm not but they blasted right by their goal and still have 30 days left.

16. ### RhaedasValued Senior Member

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I think all this is said in jest, as hydro and wind generation is a lot more complicated than just sticking something that turns on an old alternator.

I hope you aren't serious. The link discussed why having light at night can help people in third world countries.

Okay, you didn't read it at all. They have kerosene lamps. It's a bad thing. That's the whole point.

Troll much?

17. ### kwhilbornBannedBanned

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2,088
@ Rhaedas,

I was not trolling, and was serious about my entire post. Cosmic is obviously a user of the Internet but has suggested he/she wants to live off grid. I see no problem with using your available power for a computer and using candles as a light source. Camping generators only have limited power. I think you just like being rude and yourself are obviously trolling.

If you seriously have not heard of people adapting alternators for dc power then you could simply google the topic before saying it is "more complicated". Try knowing facts before arguing please. Someone mentioned bicycle power in a post before mine, and if you have ever been to a science center and seen alternators hooked up to bike pedals you might see more clearly this was an expansion on that. Alternators (especially older designs) are often attainable 2nd hand, and can often be brushed and cleaned and repaired if broken. It is cheap. Arguing against using alternators as generators is also trolling. It is very common, and I bet there are more home made windmills generating with alternators than with a storebought ac generator.

People generally do not need electric light, and despite your list of why it is necessary mankind has been fine without it for many thousands of years. a candle can be made from a single animal and if it needs repair they are capable of fixing it.

The article mentioned Kerosene lamps, and I imagine candles were equally bad, but that does not mean technology such as this belongs in those homes. Homes without electricity probably have far less cancer risks than homes covered in a dozen magnetic fields from various power lines and electronics inside the home.

See this warning from The American Cancer Institute about home appliances, cell phones, etc.
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/magnetic-fields

When I mentioned the poverty shacks in Jamaica with no windows/electricity, I should also mention that these people do not all have money for such devices, even this looks like it cost less than $1. You say this article shows how it helps third world countries? How? By giving them a device that can break and be useless and cost money when they can make candles for almost free. Don't forget Electric Light is fairly new to humans. We got by with lamps just fine. I also mentioned how some cultures would argue over the technology as the coke bottle did in the movie "The gods must be crazy". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCQIGiXf0JA One of the dangers of Kerosene lamps was cancer risk. Maybe you should look at what Electric light has done to sleeping patterns and behaviour. A village with no electric power may actually go to bed when it gets dark out and get a proper nights rest as opposed to our stressed out never sleep societies. There are many studies about how artificial light is bad for our health. Try reading about those before whining about a bit of kerosene smoke. @ Rhaedas, I had written an informative and practical post, and you suggested I was trolling? You suggest trading one health risk for another. This idea is nice for backpackers, but anyone in a third world country would be as well off with a candle. You were being rude for no reason I can see and suggest that is real trolling. 18. ### NasorValued Senior Member Messages: 6,221 kwhilborn, I don't think that an automotive alternator would work. They are designed to run at very high RPM, much higher than you could get with a bike or water power, even with any sort of gearing that you could plausibly set up. In fact, an automotive alternator that was spinning too slowly would drain a battery rather than charge it, because the alternator draws a small amount of power to generate its internal fields. Those bike generators are usually made with high-torque, low-RPM DC motors. 19. ### RhaedasValued Senior Member Messages: 1,516 I know first hand what is needed to generate home made hydro power, and yes, it is complicated. It, and wind power, also require being in a good spot to do such. Not all people live where they would work well. But it's funny that you think it's an easy thing to do, and yet almost all of us in a modern society live off a grid, letting the utility company provide for us for a fee. But yeah, those impoverished people can build their own stuff if they really want electricity. They're just happy in the state they're in. Maybe if they had old automobiles lying around they'd get the idea... More of the same, sure, they're fine living like they are, they don't need help, especially if it contributes to their productivity or education. Assuming that you post a link that argues against your point. Firstly, the first ones are being donated. That means they're free. Secondly, they will be mass produced with help from donations so that their cots is very small. Thirdly, and most importantly, once bought, they run FOR FREE. No more kerosene to buy. Paid off within a few months. I guess you didn't read that either. Even more of, oh they're fine, they don't want to improve their living conditions or anything else. Poverty isn't so bad, if you don't know any better. Are you implying that kerosene smoke is okay for a person's health? Apples and oranges. Sorry, if post #11 was informative, I missed the information part. It was short and belittling of the topic, but not full of anything substantial. So yes, I saw it as trolling, because it didn't have anything constructive. At least this last post had something to respond to. Aqueous Id had the best con to this idea, whether or not the technology could live up to what they're promising in output. We'll just have to see if practical application proves the numbers wrong. I was mainly affronted by the dismissal of people helping other people who can't help themselves. Your implication that they are living in poverty because they want to and it's better for them is very distasteful. 20. ### RhaedasValued Senior Member Messages: 1,516 Not to get too much into this, as I doubt many of these people have high speed running water to even harness, but what you need to do is step up the rotation with a transmission. Obviously you lose some efficiency having to do this, and again, you would need a consistent flow and a dam to make it practical, something I don't think the target people would be able to do. The video that Kwhilborn posted is amusing. Don't get me wrong, I applaud people that reimagine uses of things, but 1) the guy says he modified the alternator with more magnets, something that not everyone could do, 2) he comments in the video that it is turinng with a slight wind, meanwhile you hear the gusts and see the storm clouds rolling by, and 3) he's says at that "slow" speed he's generating like 15 volts and not a lot of current. "But when it gets moving"...does it need tropical force winds to give something that is more useful than a trickle charge? Thing is, a car alternator is designed to run 12 volt low power systems in a car, as well as trickle charge the battery to maintain it. It's not optimal for a wind mill or other serious power generation. Interestingly, tapping into running water is utilizing the same force this light producer is. Gravity. Last edited: Dec 17, 2012 21. ### NasorValued Senior Member Messages: 6,221 Rhaedas, automotive alternators need to run at something like 1k RPM. I'm sure that a suffieiently well-engineered gearing system could make an alternator spin that fast with hydro power, but making such a thing would be pretty crazy when you could just use a DC generator/motor. 22. ### RhaedasValued Senior Member Messages: 1,516 Good point, Nasor, but the discussion was how easy it was to take an old alternator and do this. Or not so easy. 23. ### kwhilbornBannedBanned Messages: 2,088 Adding magnets is meant to convert the current from DC to Ac, and the discussion was not the ease with wich people harness Alternators, it was the cheapness and convenience. I still think more people are harnessing wind through old car alternators than have bought equipment, but I was wrong before (Possibly). I had described it as "Redneck Energy". Improving living conditions of the impoverished would be better done by Instructional picture books (language barriers), that teach how to make Candles, Wells, Water purifiers, composting, waste management, farming etc. This was mentioned in my post (although Rhaedas missed it apparently) although I made light of the over-technology and suggested it come in DVD form. Many people do not realize how Charity scams work. A Charity scam does not need to be a scam to be a scam. Let me explain. .... A Charity can provide a fully functioning charity service that does something great for mankind. They may provide food, shelter, water, bicycles, tampons, or whatnot in a legitimate service. They can even be registered as non profit organizations and have government tax numbers. How do they scam? They pay themselves for their work. They decide their contribution to the charity they run and dictate their own salaries. If I ran a charity I could give myself a$99,999 annual salary and as long as my charity is not running a profit I can call myself non-profit.
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Industry=Non-Profit_Organization/Salary

C'mon: What's the salary of the CEO of the Brady Center? Or what are the salaries of the 5 highest-paid employees of Planned Parenthood? Do you think that even 1% of Gravity Lights donors have ever asked such a question? Of course not.

Such "charity" thus involves convincing middle-class donors to give money that pays the salaries of professional activists who are in the top 2% of all U.S. income earners. It's Robin Hood in reverse. Do you know what the star rating is of the hotels they stay at while delivering the Goods to Africa? Do they bring their wife and kids and Nanny?

I am sorry that people are falling for this, but there is much more serious problems in the world than the possibilities long term effects of candles and lamps can cause lung cancer. These people donating to Gravity lights would see their money better spent by donating to the American Cancer Society. Many Highly reputable organizations such as UNICEF, Salvation Army, Red Cross, ACS, tell the public how much of their money is spent on administration costs.

They make a nice thank-you, but also indicate they are "MINDFUL" of the development costs of a future version of this light. Does this mean they will rent an office or will buy a building with donated money and set up an office there. Maybe they will build a nice house in the suburbs with a small office.

Here is part of the disclaimer by Indiegogo the company running this fundraising campaign,
There is the possibility that not a single third world person would every receive a light. People are contributing to the IDEA.

The government has been trying to help people avoid (I cannot say scam here) legal crowdfunding for unknown purposes by changing...

I am not saying this or every organization like this is a scam, but it sure looks like people are paying to buy these from someone profiting. The same someone who is looking at another versions research and development. The donators should not be paying for research and development of a future prototype as far as I am concerned.

@ Rhaedas,
SO YES. IF YOU THINK I AM AGAINST THIS PROJECT THEN YES I AM. It is not because I wish to keep the world impoverished either. I may not be legally able to say this is a scam, but there is both Administrative costs and sales profits involved with the fundraiser here.

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.

Let's look at 1000 better things to donate to poor countries.

A cow
A Goat
Shoes
Sewing Needles
Bicycles
etc
etc

Gravity lights are "NEATO", and they are a great idea for showing gravity stored energy, but they are not going to save the world.

Last edited: Dec 17, 2012