Colombian renewable energy start-up E-Dina and WPP’s Wunderman Thompson Colombia have launched WaterLight, a revolutionary device which turns a simple natural resource – salt water – into life-changing electrical power.
The pioneering product was developed in response to a set of sobering statistics: despite progress on global energy targets, the World Health Organization reports that 840 million people are currently without access to electricity, hindering their ability to work beyond daylight hours, carry out essential tasks and stay connected to the wider world.
With electricity demand expected to increase by 70% by 2035, and traditional fossil fuels estimated to be depleted in the next 52 years, this innovative new solution is urgently needed.
Co-designed and co-developed by WPP’s Wunderman Thompson Colombia, WaterLight’s groundbreaking application harnesses the power of ionization, a simple scientific reaction whereby salt-water electrolytes react with the magnesium on the inside of the device, producing electrical energy.
As well as functioning as a portable lamp – half a litre of salt water placed in the device provides an incredible 45 days of light.
WaterLight is also capable of charging small appliances such as a cell phone or a radio via a USB port. Perfectly suited to seawater, the device also responds to fresh water mixed with salt and even – in emergency situations – urine.
In creating this forward-facing technology, E-Dina and Wunderman Thompson Colombia looked to the age-old traditions of the Wayúu, an indigenous community living on the remote La Guajira peninsula straddling the Colombian-Venezuela border.
Although access to electricity is limited, the arid desert terrain is surrounded by the most powerful battery in the world: the sea.
With the help of WaterLight, the Wayúu will transform an abundant natural resource into a safe, sustainable way to power their lives, from night fishing to charging mobile phones without the need to travel for miles, creating a sense of connection within the community and to the wider world.
The Wayúu’s rich cultural heritage is further reflected in the waterproof design of the WaterLight device.
Decorated with traditional patterns and symbols of power, the wooden surface draws inspiration from the ancient art of ‘Kanas’ weaving, with stylised geometric figures representing the sea, fauna and flora of the natural environment.
Meanwhile the strap, created by a ‘Eünün’ – the craftswomen of the community – stays faithful to its artisan roots.
In line with E-Dina’s commitment to sustainability, WaterLight has been created as a long-lasting, 100% recyclable product. Designed to function for 5,600 hours – which equates to over 230 days or 2 to 3 years of use – its capacity to deliver clean electrical power is not limited to La Guajira. Poised for a worldwide roll-out, WaterLight’s potential is truly global.
Bas Korsten, Global Chief Creative Officer, Wunderman Thompson, said: “WaterLight demonstrates how the holy trinity of technology, creativity and humanity can produce a genuinely ground-breaking idea – one which holds the potential to transform life for millions of people.
“Cutting-edge innovation will only move the dial so far: to drive real change for a better world, we need ideas with humanity at their core.”
Many developing nations such as Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Gabon, Somalia and Syria are in a similar position to La Guajira, lacking access to energy but with the benefit of a coastline.
For governments, NGOs and private organisations seeking sustainable technology solutions for these specific coastal communities, WaterLight represents an innovative, cost-effective option.
In addition, with the global refugee crisis set to worsen over the coming years, the device could also prove invaluable for aid charities providing migrants with essential amenities, particularly in situations where resources are scarce.
WaterLight can be purchased by governments, NGOs and private organisations.