For many of the villages scattered throughout the Amazon rain forest, access to electricity is scant, if nonexistent. But that could soon change, at least in regards to powering simple appliances, thanks to an innovation that can generate power from plants.

A team of researchers from the Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC) have developed a lamp that plugs into a potted plant that can stay lit for hours, they recently announced in a press release. It's an invention that could be a game changer for communities scattered throughout remote regions of the world.

The so-called Plant Lamp, which uses a low-energy but high-illumination LED bulb, can supply around two hours of light per day. It works by making use of energy stored in the soil, generated from nutrients and/or microorganisms that are released by plants during their growth.

“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,” explained Elmer Ramirez, leader of the Plant Lamp research team.

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The first prototypes are already being put to use in the native community of Nuevo Saposa, which is in the Ucayali region of Peru. Prior to this project, residents of this community had to rely on kerosene lamps for light, which can contribute to poor health due to the smoke that they generate. So the Plant Lamp is making an immediate impact.

This technology could be used anywhere in the world, but of course it is particularly apt for use in the Amazon, since vegetation is ubiquitous there. It's a perfect example of looking to nature for a solution, and making use of regional resources.

“We are positive that this will result in a better quality of life for community families because by using the [Plant Lamp], they will have access to renewable energy to provide light to their homes for use by the 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," said Jessica Ruas, UTEC Marketing Director.

A video featuring the Plant Lamp being used in the community of Nuevo Saposa can be viewed here:

Bryan Nelson ( @@brynelson ) writes about everything from environmental problems here on Earth to big questions in space.

Lamp powered by a single plant can stay lit for hours
No outlet needed for this lamp — just plug it into the nearest plant.