“Alfredo Moser has changed the lives of a tremendous number of people, I think forever. Whether or not he gets the Nobel Prize, we want him to know that there are a great number of people who admire what he is doing.” – Illac Angelo Diaz, MyShelter Foundation, Philippines.
The creative mind of Alfredo Moser, a Brazilian mechanic, came up with a cheap way to illuminate his house during the day without using electricity. His “Lamp Moser” is just a plastic bottle filled with water and a little amount of bleach, added to prevent the growth of algae.
Alfredo Moser lives in Uberaba, a city in the west of the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. In 2002, there were frequent power outages in his home city. While talking to the media Moser said: “The only places that had energy were the factories, not people’s houses.”
During the power outages, Moser and his friends were discussing a hypothetical situation of a small plane coming down and the survivors had no matches to light a fire to signal the rescuers. Moser’s boss suggested filling a discarded plastic bottle with water and using it as a lens to focus the sun’s rays on dry grass to start a fire.
This simple idea germinated in Moser’s mind and motivated him to develop the “Lamp Moser” – a cheap source of indoor lighting during the day. The lamp has an intensity around 60 watts.
Moser installed the bottle lamps in his house and in the houses of his neighbours and also in the local supermarket.
Though he does earn a few dollars installing his creation, it has not made him wealthy, but has given him a great sense of pride. He still lives in his simple house and drives his old 1974 car.
In the Philippines, where electricity is relatively expensive, a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. Alfred Moser’s idea of the refracted-light bottle lamps have been installed in more than 200,000 homes and benefitted more than a million people.
Illac Angelo Diaz is the executive director of the MyShelter Foundation in the Philippines that specializes in the use of sustainable or recycled materials such as bamboo, tyre, paper, and discarded plastic bottles as alternative construction materials. They built walls with plastic bottles filled with mud and windows with bottles filled with water.
Diaz came to know about Alfredo Moser and admired the simple principle embodied in the refracted light lamps that provide indoor lighting during the daytime.
In June 2011, MyShelter started making the refracted-light bottle lamps, following the Moser method. Diaz says that one can find Moser lamps, even on remote island communities in the Philippines. He adds that the light provided by the refracted-light bottle lamps help people in poor areas to grow food on small hydroponic farms.
The Foundation now trains people to fabricate and install the refracted-light bottle lamps to earn a small income.
The idea has also caught on in about 15 other countries, from India and Bangladesh, to Tanzania, Argentina and Fiji.
- Alfredo Moser: Bottle light inventor proud to be poor (bbc.com)
- Watt a bright idea! Brazilian mechanic uses plastic water bottles and bleach to create LIGHT – illuminating 1million homes (dailymail.co.uk)
- Social entrepreneur brings light to the electric-less — with a soda bottle and some water (pri.org)