Local Hero Saves Impoverished Village With Simple Invention

Sometimes the most straightforward inventions are the most brilliant. The best proof that the simplest ideas can make the biggest difference is the story of Alfredo Moser. In 2002, the Brazilian was literally left in the dark due to ongoing blackouts frequently occurring in his town. Like the rest of the community, the mechanic needed light to do his job properly, and so he went looking for solutions, at which point he had a brilliant idea.

Alfredo took a couple of ordinary, clear plastic bottles and filled them with water and bleach. Then he cut holes in the roof of his house and passed the bottles through so that the upper part of the bottles slightly protruded above the roof. Taking care to think ahead, Alfredo fixed the bottles into place with polyester resin to prevent leaks when it rains.

Alfredo's invention all came down to basic physics: The bottles act as makeshift light bulbs thanks to simple refraction of sunlight. The sunlight that hits the outer parts of the bottle is amplified and then scattered by the water like a prism, thus making the bottles light up. The bleach is added to prevent the water from becoming cloudy over time due to algae build-up.

Conventional light bulbs can't hold a candle to Alfredo's bottle lamps in terms of practicality in dark times. Depending on how strong the sun is, the "Moser lamp" – as Alfredo has proudly dubbed his invention – is equivalent to a 40 or 60 watt light bulb. It's also quite cheap to make, extremely durable, and best of all – it doesn't require any electricity or power to function. The creation was a true blessing for Alfredo's fellow countrymen and came at just the right time as Brazil was experiencing rather frequent power outages in 2002. It wasn't long before everyone wanted Moser lamps in their own home!

Soon all the homes in Alfredo's neighborhood, as well as a local supermarket, were equipped with Moser lamps. But that was just the beginning! Shortly thereafter, Alfredo was contacted by the MyShelter Foundation, a charity based in the Philippines which aims to promote positive environmental change towards global sustainability by supporting creative, innovative, and sustainable action. As such, they build affordable housing for the impoverished using sustainable and recycled materials, and they thought the bottle lamps would be the perfect complement to the homes. Moser lamps currently illuminate the insides of 140,000 apartments in the Philippines. 

Illac Angelo Diaz, the executive director of the MyShelter Foundation in the Philippines, is excited about Alfredo's invention and is determined to spread it around the world through his "Liter of Light" project, which uses recycled plastic bottles as solar light bulbs. For impoverished countries with limited power supplies, the bottle lamps are a godsend. The project has thus far been able to bring Alfredo's invention to Colombia, Tanzania, and India, with further plans to cover every corner of the globe.

Alfredo himself doesn't make a profit off his invention. For the humble mechanic, the fact that he has been able to improve the lives of millions of people is reward enough. "There was one man who installed the lights and within a month he had saved enough to pay for the essential things for his child, who was about to be born. Can you imagine?" he says.

Alfredo is a true hero, and while his invention may be simple, it has been a real game changer, especially at a time when sustainability and environmental awareness are becoming ever more important. This clever hobbyist definitely deserves the Nobel Prize, don't you think?


BBC News


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