ACM DEV 2014
Conference paper

UrJar: A lighting solution using discarded laptop batteries

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Forty percent of the world's population, including a significant portion of the rural and urban poor sections of the population in India, does not have access to reliable electricity supply. Concurrently, there is rapid penetration of battery-operated portable computing devices such as laptops, both in the developing and developed world. This generates a significant amount of electronic waste (e-waste), especially in the form of discarded Lithium Ion batteries which power such devices. In this paper, we describe UrJar, a device which uses re-usable Lithium Ion cells from discarded laptop battery packs to power low energy DC devices. To understand the usability of UrJar in a real world scenario, we deployed it at five street-side shops in India, which did not have access to grid electricity. The participants appreciated the long duration of backup power provided by the device to meet their lighting requirements. To conclude, we present an ecosystem which consists of a community-level energy shed and UrJar devices individually owned by households, as a mechanism for DC electrification of rural areas in developing countries. We show that UrJar has the potential to channel e-waste towards the alleviation of energy poverty, thus simultaneously providing a sustainable solution for both problems.