DOST denies snubbing SALt lamp inventor

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 23 2015 12:41 PM | Updated as of Nov 23 2015 03:22 PM

The Department of Science and Technology reached out to Filipina scientist Aisa Mijeno even before world and business leaders commended her Sustainable Alternative Lighting (SALt) lamp, a DOST official said.

DOST Assistant Secretary Raymund Liboro said Mijeno, who shared the stage with US President Barack Obama and Alibaba chief Jack Ma at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit, was actually a product of a program supported by the agency.

"Partikular kasi kay Aisa, noong lumabas siya, may ugnayan na ang aming Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI) sa kanya, before pa iyung APEC. Ang pagkaka-alam ko kasi, itong si Aisa, produkto na siya ng isa pang programa na called Ideas Space kung saan mayroon nang tie-up ang DOST," Liboro said.

Mijeno's SALt lamp is an environment-friendly and sustainable alternative light source that runs on saltwater.

US President Barack Obama with the chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba, Jack Ma and entrepreneur Aisa Mijeno at the APEC CEO summit in Manila. Photo by Photo by Saul Loeb, AFP

Initial mass production for the SALt lamps will cost P17 million.

Liboro said the DOST is ready to assist Mijeno in commercializing her invention through its programs under the Inventors and Invention Incentives Act.

"Maaari namin siyang bigyan ng grant upang ma-develop further iyung kanyang prototype para kapag isinalang sa merkado, e ayos. Mahirap naman pagsalang e, 'Ay, iyun lang pala iyan,'" he said.

He said the government is on the lookout for other inventions that will help Filipinos.

The official cited DOST's "From Paper to Patent" program that searches for inventions from students through contests.

"Kinukumbinsi namin iyung mga kabataan na i-submit sa amin iyung kanilang paper. Tinitingnan nami iyung potential na maging patent ito at kapag nakuha namin iyung paper na iyan at napa-copyright namin, automatic na protektado na iyung bata," Liboro 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 in an earlier interview on radio dzMM.

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."

According to the SALt website, the award winning invention, expected to be sold at P1,000 per unit, will be made available in the market first quarter of 2016