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Soil Lamp
Soil Lamp


This is the Soil Lamp, designed by Design Academy Eindhoven student Marieke Staps and recently exhibited during Milan Design Week 2008.

Quoting the project brief, in Dutch:

Gratis en milieuvriendelijke energie voor eeuwig. De lamp werkt op modder. De stofwisseling van het biologische leven produceert genoeg elektriciteit om er een led op te laten branden. De modder zit in verschillende cellen. In deze cellen zitten koper en zink om de stroom te geleiden. Hoe meer cellen hoe meer stroom er geproduceerd wordt. Je hebt enorm veel mogelijkheden binnen deze techniek. Het enige wat de lamp nodig heeft is zo nu en dan een scheutje water. Ik heb voor het materiaal glas gekozen omdat ik de techniek zichtbaar wil maken. Door de mooie simpele vormgeving kun je de lamp in elk interieur en elke tuin plaatsen. De vormgeving is een direct gevolg van de techniek.


And this is how BabelFish translates it:

Free and environment-friendly energy for eternal. The lamp works on mud. The stofwisseling of biological living produces enough electricity to launch LED there to burn. Mud is present in several warrants. In these warrants are present purchaser and zinc conduct the flow. How more warrants how more flow is produced. You have enormously many possibilities this technique. Some what has the lamp necessary is this way now and then scheutje water. I have chosen glass for the material because I technique makes visible will. By the beautiful simple design you can place the lamp in each interieur and each garden. The design is an direct consequence of technique.


So essentially, then, the metallic strips of zinc and the cornucopia of minerals and organisms in the damp soil chemically react with one another to initiate a constant electrical current that lights up an LED.

A few questions:

1) Is it an actual working model or just another concept model, a Gravia Lamp v2.0?

2) If it's a working model, how does it work actually? We'd be interested in seeing some flow diagrams and numbers. And what kind of soil mixture?

3) And if it does work, can you take the metallic body and LED out of its lower 3/4 glass enclosure, remove the test tubes and the soil contained therein, and then impale it into the ground — will the LED still glow? Can a generous benefactor of the arts (perhaps Dia) manufacture for us several thousands so that we can run amok with these geological illuminations in Canada's trillion-barrel tar pits or Russia's still untapped gas fields, away from amateur astronomers and other light-sensitive nighttime fauna, making new earthly constellations of future negative contour lines and rhizomatous pipelines? Because why should this alternative energy light fixture be installed only in parks, gardens, driveways, streets and indoor rooms everywhere?

4) Does it work in bacteria-laden moon soil?


Fluorescent Field
Petroleum Sublime

4 COMMENTS —
  • Dan
  • April 22, 2008 at 11:54:00 PM CDT
  • The "koper" that's being translated as "purchaser" or something should, I think, just be "copper"; this lamp has a bunch of copper and zinc strips sticking out of the bottom of it, and it's using the mud as an electrolyte, like a lemon or potato "battery".

    So yes, it'd work if you stuck it in the ground. But it'd also work if you sat it in a tub of salty water, or urine, or Coca-Cola. It's the metals that're making the electricity, not the electrolyte. With a large number of electrodes you can make enough power this way to run a fairly bright lamp, but the capacity of such a battery is not that great - you might as well just use some AA cells.

    Such a battery will also, over time, poison its electrolyte with metal ions. Copper is particularly bad for plant life. But a "Soil Poisoning Lamp" probably wouldn't have gotten exhibited anywhere.

    (And thanks for the link to my piece on the Gravia! :-)


  • Anonymous
  • April 23, 2008 at 2:55:00 AM CDT
  • stofwisseling = metabolism
    scheutje water = little splash of water
    cel = cell, compartment
    koper = copper


  • vinod
  • November 13, 2008 at 1:42:00 PM CST
  • hi!
    This is vinod sapuru BE(EEE).
    I think this is an excellent idea to work with....i will surely try this at home so that i can help out the rural people to enlighten themselves....but i wish to know how much copper & what are the other components that would be needed to lighten the 60 watts bulb from the soil?


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