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University Creates Lamp Powered Entirely by Soil and Plants

Peru's UTEC is bringing light to those without electricity with their newly-created Plant-lamp.
Screencaps via

From the university in Peru that created the world’s first water-producing billboards in 2013, and air-purifying billboards in 2014, comes a sustainable lamp that derives its electrical energy from plants.

That school is University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC), located outside of the country’s capital, and for the project, known as Plant-lamp, a team of researchers focused their work on challenging the limitedness of electrical energy in rural parts of Peru.


The research group, consisting of one professor and eight students, focused their study in Ucayali, a region in the tropical rainforest by the border of Peru and Brazil that’s sited to have some of the lowest access to electricity in the country. In the short project video (above), they cite numbers as high as 42% of the rainforest population lacking electrical power. This forces many to use kerosene lamps, a dim light source that strains eyesight and gives off unpleasant fumes and smoke.

UTEC looked to alternative energy sources to provide light to a community couldn't rely on electrical cables or petroleum.

By making use of the abundant natural resources in their given environment, the researchers created Plant-lamp, a sustainable lamp that gives two hours of light everyday and is powered by the nutrients in the local soil. Elmer Ramirez, the leader of the Plant-lamp research team, and a professor at UTEC, explains, “We put the plant and soil into a wooden plant pot together with a previously established and properly protected irrigation system. Then, inside the pot we place the energy generation system that we created which stores soil and electrodes capable of converting plant nutrients into electric energy.”

This renewable light source can only contribute to a better quality of life for communities in more remote areas, as it will play an integral part for “children during their school work study hours or during work hours to produce and sell their products and with this, contribute to the self-sustainability of the population,” as Jessica Ruas, the UTEC Marketing Director, explains.


Right now, 10 prototypes of the Plant-lamp have been produced and delivered to families in this region. This is another way UTEC, through their many projects, believe that engineering can help solve social issues.

Click here to visit UTEC's website.


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