M-KOPA hooks up Kenya’s off-grid residents with solar-powered TVs

August 3, 2016 by  
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In areas of the world lacking reliable grid power, access to information can also be spotty. Now, residents of Kenya can keep tabs on world news and entertainment with solar-powered digital flat screen TVs from M-KOPA Solar . The company launched a payment program earlier this year to help its customers do something they never dreamed of: own a TV. After two years of payments, they can own the flat screen as well as the solar power system that runs it, so they can enjoy hours of TV-watching without a monthly bill. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZjN62oFwsU M-KOPA is a pay-as-you-go solar provider based in Kenya. Based on survey results from the Kenya Audience Research Foundation 2015, the company realized that many of its customers don’t have access to TV on a daily basis. Sixty-nine percent of Kenya ’s adult population either don’t have electricity or cannot afford a TV set. A solar-powered flat screen is the perfect solution to help close the gap. Customers can make payments from their mobile phones and, after two years, they own the solar power system and the TV, so they can continue watching news and programming without further costs. Related: More than half of Kenya’s electricity will come from solar power by 2016 In order to broaden the reach of the program, M-KOPA leaned on its existing relationship with mobile provider Safaricom, which began in 2010. M-KOPA’s residential solar power systems, along with the solar-powered TVs, will be sold through Safaricom retail stores. This arrangement makes it possible to connect millions of people to sustainable solar power in areas underserved by (or not connected to) the grid, in addition to putting TVs in the homes of people who likely never thought they could afford one. “Owning a TV is life-changing for our off-grid customers,” M-KOPA CEO Jesse Moore said in a statement . “Many of them have traditionally had to pay to watch in a café or bar, or missed out on news and current events because they could not afford to be connected to information. We are now going beyond the grid to offer TV to homes all over Kenya. It’s great for the family to be able to watch together in the comfort and safety of their home.” Via Disrupt Africa Images via M-KOPA Solar

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M-KOPA hooks up Kenya’s off-grid residents with solar-powered TVs

Canadian chemists use vitamins in new sustainable lithium battery

August 3, 2016 by  
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Chemists at the University of Toronto have developed a new battery that stores energy in a cathode derived from vitamins . The breakthrough could eventually lead to batteries that are much cheaper and more environmentally friendly than regular lithium-based batteries, but with similar performance. This development marks the first time a bio-derived polymer has been successfully applied to battery technology, an accomplishment that could unlock a new path for the future of energy storage . Flavin derived from vitamin B2 operates as the cathode in the new battery , which is the part where energy is stored when the battery is connected to an electronic device. Looking to nature for solutions, a design approach called biomimicry made a lot of sense to the research team as they sought to build a better battery. “We’ve been looking to nature for a while to find complex molecules for use in a number of consumer electronics applications,” said Dwight Seferos, an associate professor in the university’s Department of Chemistry and Canada Research Chair in Polymer Nanotechnology. Related: Researchers accidentally discover a way to make batteries last basically forever The result is an environmentally friendly battery that is also easier to make than typical lithium ion batteries. “When you take something made by nature that is already complex, you end up spending less time making new material,” Seferos added. After much trial and error, and many failures, the team of chemists successfully created a new material from vitamin B2 that begins with genetically-modified fungi and, through a semi-synthetic process, links two flavin units to create a long-chain molecule (in other words, a polymer). The bio-derived polymer makes it possible to create a truly green battery that has both high capacity and high voltage, which are both key elements to running all the portable electronic devices that modern life has come to rely upon. The research was published in this month’s edition of the journal Advanced Functional Materials. Via Phys.org Images via Diana Tyszko/University of Toronto and Shutterstock

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Canadian chemists use vitamins in new sustainable lithium battery

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