Clean Lighting Leads to Improved Health in Rural Africa: Field Study and Design of a Dirt-Powered Generator
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CitationAiden, Aviva Presser. 2014. Clean Lighting Leads to Improved Health in Rural Africa: Field Study and Design of a Dirt-Powered Generator. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Medical School.
AbstractTwo billion people world-wide use kerosene-burning lamps for household lighting. These lamps produce large quantities of soot. In Chapter 2, I describe our field study examining 230 people in rural Uganda. I show that kerosene lamps are a major source of smoke exposure in the developing world, and that replacing such lamps with solar-powered lights reduces indoor soot levels 17-fold, leading to significant improvements in health within months. This finding is particularly notable because respiratory disease is the #1 cause of death in children under 5 worldwide.
Because solar cells are a challenge to manufacture in the developing world, I next examined the potential of harvesting electrons from soil-based microbes as a source of clean energy. Such devices are known as microbial fuel cells (MFCs); because soil is available everywhere, MFCs can, in principle, be locally constructed all over the world. In Chapter 3, I describe our exploration of the biology of MFCs, using high-throughput DNA sequencing to demonstrate a role for genus Pseudomonas in energy production. I also examine numerous agricultural products available throughout the developing world to determine whether any could serve as a suitable ‘feed’ for MFC soil. I find that dried animal blood increases MFC energy production 10-fold. In Chapter 4, I describe our design of a modular, stackable MFC, demonstrate that it can be easily constructed in rural Africa, and use it to power lights and to charge a cell phone battery.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:12407604