LIMA – A clay pot, a small plant, dozens of microorganisms and nanotechnology have brought hope to three million Peruvians without electricity who rely on kerosene lamps and candles.
The hybrid device, which has been named Alinti, works as an energy source that takes advantage of photosynthesis from the plant, microorganisms inside it, small plates and cooling that allows it to accumulate enough energy to light LED bulbs for up to 12 hours and charge two mobile phones.
The technology has been improving to the point that its latest version won the Technology with Impact award at the 2019 Latin American Green Awards, considered the Oscars of the industry.
It also came in second place in the History Channel’s “An idea to change history” in 2018.
Hernan Asto, a civil engineer who invented the device, has been invited to go to Silicon Valley in the United States in December to collaborate on the development of his idea.
He said that Alinti’s “greatest recognition” has been at Cerrito La Libertad, a small town east of Lima, where more than 500 families were without electric lighting, water or sewage in their homes.
“We have given the mothers instructions on how to take care of Alinti and they follow them to the letter, but they also tell us that their children are more motivated to do their homework, that they want to do them next to Alinti,” Asto told Efe.
Resident Eliana Barja, 38, said: “We want more Alinti. To be able to turn on a television, a refrigerator.”
She added that since Alinti was installed in their homes three months ago she and her neighbours have internet access and can stay connected on social media.
Everyone in Cerrito La Libertad is a supporter of Alinti, Barja said.
She added that the women are responsible for maintaining the plant, watering it every five days and turning the nanotechnology plates on and off.
Asto said that their use contributes to Alinti’s scientific development because each device is equipped with sensors and sends data on how much energy the plant species produces, how many microorganisms there are, how many small plates, its temperature and pH.
Asto, who studied as a child in his native Andean region of Ayacucho by candlelight, said he hopes that no more children will have to expose themselves to the toxic smoke candles and oil lamps produce.
“We are thinking that each family has about five Alintis at home and with that illuminate their entire home, turn on the radio, turn on a television, a refrigerator. That is our goal,” he added.