MANILA - Filipina scientist Aisa Mijeno has no intention of competing with other inventors of sustainable alternative light sources.
In an interview on radio dzMM Thursday, Mijeno said she is aware that her invention, a lamp that runs on saltwater, may somehow affect businesses offering similar services such as companies producing solar panels.
Some Filipinos have started using solar panels to power up lights and appliances inside their homes. Solar panels, though costly, help in cutting electricity bills.
Mijeno, however, stressed that she is not out to compete with anybody, saying she fully supports those who, like her, promote the use of renewable energy.
"Sa akin po kasi, hindi po ako directly nakikipagkumpetensiya sa mga other alternative light sources. Actually, happy pa nga ako kasi renewable. Kung renewable po yung means ng pagge-generate ng electricity para makapagpailaw ng lanterns, okay po ako doon," said Mijeno, a computer engineering graduate.
She added that her main mission in inventing the SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting) lamp is to change the habit of Filipinos living in remote communities of using kerosene lamps and candles.
"Kasi alam naman po natin yung danger po na pwedeng idulot sa atin ng paggamit ng gasera saka ng kandila in case of fire accidents. Tapos nagre-release po siya ng black carbon na nakaka-cause ng health diseases like lung disease and yung eye problem. So yun po mainly ang ina-address namin," she said.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND SALT LAMP
Mijeno, who is a member of Greenpeace Philippines, said it was during her personal immersion in Kalinga when she thought of making the SALt lamp.
Mijeno noted that residents in the remote communities in Kalinga have to walk for six hours every other day just to get kerosene to power their lamps.
"Since madalang po dun yung public transportation, wala po silang choice kundi maglakad. Nilalakad po nila six hours papunta dun sa pinakalamalapit na bayan para lang bumili ng kerosene na pangluto saka panglampara na magla-last lang po ng dalawang araw. Ginagawa po nila yun every other day," she narrated.
With the SALt lamp, these people will no longer have to endure long hours walking nor spend money for kerosene.
To run the lamp, they will just to have to make a salt water solution, Mijeno said. With two tablespoons of salt and one glass of tap water, the lamp can run for up to eight hours straight.
Those living in coastal communities may also even just get ocean water instead of buying salt to make their own salt water solution.
They will, however, need to change something inside the lamp every six months. But this item only costs P100, she said, so they will only have to spend P200 annually to sustain the lamp.
In the interview, Mijeno, who is currently a member of the engineering faculty of the De La Salle University in Lipa, Batangas, also explained the science behind the SALt lamp.
"Ang basis ay yung science behind galvanic cell, electrochemistry... Pag nag-submerge po kayo ng dalawang dissimilar metals in any form of electrolyte, in this case saltwater, nagge-generate siya ng electricity," she said.
"Technically, this is a battery po. Ang ginawa lang namin ay we tweaked on the process, na binigyan namin ng kakayahan yung tao na i-drain out at i-replenish yung electrolyte para mas humaba yung buhay."
SUPPORT FROM GOV'T, NGOs, PRIVATE SECTOR
Mijeno's game-changing invention has received various awards and recognition from organizations in the Philippines, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.
According to Mijeno, they are now working on mass producing the SALt lamp, which they aim to sell for less than P1,000 per unit.
She said they are now completing requirements to receive a grant from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). They are also coordinating with non-government organizations for the distribution of the lamps in island communities.
During the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit on Wednesday, Mijeno was heavily praised by US President Barack Obama for her innovative work.
''One of the most important things you said, in my mind at least, is that this starts from the bottom,'' Obama told Mijeno.
''If we're working at the grassroots level, seeing what folks need and figuring out efficient ways how to deliver an improved quality of life while being environmentally sustainable, that's an enormous opportunity. But it starts at looking at the aspiration and hopes of ordinary people."
According to Mijeno, she was able to talk briefly with Alibaba chairman Jack Ma backstage, where he even invited her to enter his entrepreneurship school.
They also exchanged contact information, she said. "Ang parting words po niya ay he will surely keep in touch."