Laptop batteries can help bring light to slum dwellers in India

Old laptop batteries could be used to bring light to the poorest areas of the world, according to a new analysis.

An IBM study has found that 70% of batteries discarded in laptops still have enough power in them to light an LED light on for more than four hours every day, for a year. What’s more, they can be converted into useful multipurpose battery packs.

There are an estimated 400 million people without access to a national grid in India alone, and they rely on alternative power sources to get any electricity they can.

By utilising the batteries that are simply thrown out, electricity could be made available to those less well off.

Furthermore, this kind of system of relocating batteries to be used would cut down on the amount of toxic waste we generate in western countries.

The idea of recycling batteries in this way was trialled in Bangalore where converted batteries were successfully used in part of a multifunctional power pack.

This power pack was named the UrJar, and used the lithium-ion cells from old laptop batteries and converted the power from them into useable current for a variety of different out puts.

The devices were found to be very beneficial to both street vendors and poor families, who could make use of them as they were off the grid.

The researchers think that the cheap UrJar power packs, (which cost about £7) could be used to help the 400 million people in India without access to the grid’s power.

Around 50 million computers are thought to be thrown away per year in the US, a huge amount that could be alleviated slightly by recycling the battery cells, to help out India, solving two problems with one solution.

Computer Aid, a UK-based charity that works to redistribute old technology said that the initiative was a welcome one.

“We think that this is an excellent initiative as it is in line with our practice of reusing and refurbishing rather than recycling,” the chief executive of the charity, Keith Sonnet, told the BBC.