UCSB’s Institute of Energy Efficiency recently partnered with local nonprofit organization Pangaea to create a safer, more efficient alternative to kerosene lamps and distribute the innovation to students in developing countries.

At the request of Osei Darwka, president of Ghana Telecom University College, IEE Director John Bowers, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, led a team of researchers to design and produce a solar-powered LED lamp. Santa Barbara-based nonprofit organization Unite to Light sent the first shipment of 100 lamps, which each have eight times the efficiency of an incandescent bulb, to Ghana in July.

Another 1,200 will be sent to Ghana, Haiti and Kenya later this month.

According to Unite to Light President Claude Dorais, a rural family in Ghana can regain the cost of a lamp in one to two months with the money they would have spent on kerosene.

“The benefits to a family, a village, and a nation that flow from something as simple as light — when provided in sufficient quantities — are incalculable,” Dorais said in a press release. “The lamps provided by Unite to Light are bright, clean, and efficient, and with a power source as reliable as the sun, they are virtually free to operate.”

Darwka, who has spearheaded an effort to provide safe and efficient alternatives to kerosene for families in Ghana, enlisted the IEE’s help during a recent visit to Santa Barbara. The lights combine a high efficiency LED light, small solar cell that provides the LED with a sufficient charge and circuit that triples the output of the light’s single rechargeable AA battery.

The team hopes to ship 100,000 lamps to Ghana, Uganda, Senegal, Kenya, Chad, India and Haiti this year.

—Staff Report