Researchers at IBM Research India in Bangalore have discovered that at least 70 percent of all discarded lithium-ion laptop batteries still have enough juice in them to power an LED light for at least four hours a day for an entire year, a discovery that could greatly benefit those living in impoverished countries.

While there are other solutions that involve solar panels and rechargable batteries, the obvious benefit of using discarded laptop batteries is that they’re literally someone’s trash. According to research scientist Vikas Chandan, the most expensive part of any of these setups is often the battery, and in this case they’re free.

The team at IBM, along with hardware R&D firm RadioStudio, took apart several laptop batteries and replaced the bad cells with good ones, until they had crafted working, refurbished battery packs. They then added charging dongles and circuitry designed to prevent overheating before giving them to five users in Bangalore. After three months the users reported positive results with the biggest requests being for bright bulbs and wires that can’t be chewed through by rats.

According to the EPA, around 50 million laptop and desktop computers are discarded in the US every year, so hopefully something good can come out of that.

via Technology Review

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