A new IBM India study showed that old laptop batteries could power slums in developing countries like India. The concept was tested in the Indian city Bangalore in 2014.
The findings were published in a paper titled UrJar: A Lighting Solution using Discarded Laptop Batteries in the first week of December 2014.
Using discarded batteries is cheaper than existing power options. It helps deal with the mounting electronic-waste (e-waste) problem.
By carrying put the proper research, the team of researchers proposed a low-cost solution called UrJar to solve the problem of unavailable electrical power in developing regions of the world.
• The IBM group, working with a hardware Research and Development firm RadioStudio, opened the discarded laptop battery packaging and extracted individual storage units called cells.
• They tested 35 cells individually to pick out the good ones and recombined them to form refurbished battery packs.
• After adding charging dongles as well as circuitry to prevent overheating, they gave them to five users in Bangalore who lived in slums or operated sidewalk carts.
• After sometime, the users said the battery packs had worked well.
Findings of the Study
• 23 devices were battery-powered wherein batteries were charged by the participants at home using Alternate Current grid power.
• 5 devices required solarbased Direct Current charging and the remaining 7 were powered directly by fossil fuels such as Liquified Petroleum Gas or kerosene oil.
• The researchers found that 70 percent of discarded batteries had enough power to keep an LED light on for more than four hours a day for a year.
• The IBM team created UrJar- a device that uses lithium-ion cells from the old batteries to power low-energy devices such as a light. UrJar has the capacity to last for a year.
• If the UrJar is made in sufficiently large volume, researchers estimate that the price per unit will be 600 rupees.
• UrJar has the potential to channel e-waste towards the lessening of energy poverty.
• UrJar provides a means to utilize the latent residual capacity in laptop batteries, which would otherwise be wasted.
• UrJar provides a cleaner and potentially cheaper alternative than burning kerosene in order to meet lighting requirements.
E-waste is a major problem particularly in the developing world. IBM's research said 142000 computers are thrown away in the US daily which makes up for around 50 million a year.
India receives a lot of e-waste from other countries. With a booming IT market, India is also generating huge amount of e-waste of its own, around 32 tonnes a day.
Who: Old laptop batteries