twig light

Gel-Fuel and The Twig Light Profile

Gel-Fuel and The Twig Light

Arizona State University

ASU is represented by two teams at this year’s event: Gel-Fuel and The Twig Light.

The Gel-Fuel team is working to create a solution to the human respiratory illnesses that result from indoor air pollution generated by solid cooking fuel. They have developed a working prototype of a clean burning Gel-Fuel stove that utilizes an ASU-built ethanol still as a source of fuel. The gelled ethanol fuel (as well as a burn chamber that can be retrofitted into existing stoves) creates a more sustainable way of life and method to combat the devastating personal and environmental health risks involved with daily indoor cooking with wood or other carbon-dense biomasses. A prototype is up and running in Domeabra, Ghana.

The Twig Light makes use of existing waste energy to produce clean electric light inside homes. The light works by applying a temperature difference across two surfaces of a thermoelectric generator. The upper section of the device is a small combustion chamber intended for burning any combustible material (e.g., twigs) and the lower section sits in a pan of water. The combustion process heats the upper chamber, establishing a temperature difference between the heated upper and cooled lower sections. This temperature difference powers the thermoelectric generator, establishing a voltage through the circuit and powering a bank of LEDs.

Daylight Solutions LLC has been created to bring The Twig Light to market; final prototypes are currently undergoing usability testing.

back to complete list of Open Minds 2011 teams

The Twig Light: wood burning power for off-grid communities

Another NCIIA E-Team company to watch...

The team behind the Twig Light, a project from Arizona State University, has formed Daylight Solutions, LLC, to move the technology towards market. Michael Pugliese, a mechanical engineering technology graduate student, designed the sustainable lighting technology last spring in response to Ghanaian villagers’ requests for lights. The Twig Light is a wood-powered flashlight that also might have application as a mobile phone charger (photo by Brian McCollow).

Engineering for Change has a story on the Twig Light.


GlobalResolve: Development of the Twig Light

Arizona State University, 2009 - $16,000

GlobalResolve (GR) is a program at Arizona State that starts village-based ventures in developing countries by introducing sustainable technologies that address economic and health issues. One of those technologies is the Twig Light, a low-cost, sustainable light source. It consists of a wafer-type thermoelectric generator sandwiched between the upper and lower portions of a small box. The upper section is a small combustion chamber in which the user puts small pieces of wood (twigs) to be burned. The lower section sits on the ground or in a few centimeters of water. When the burning wood heats the upper chamber, the temperature difference between the two sections powers the thermoelectric generator, which powers the lights.

An alpha prototype has been developed and tested. With NCIIA funding the team will refine the Twig Light design, test it again, and distribute twenty prototypes to villages in Malawi and Ghana where they’ve worked previously. After a year of field testing they’ll interview villagers about the light, develop a final design, and establish manufacturing capability and supply chains in Malawi and Ghana.


In 2010, the Twig Light team established a company, Daylight Solutions, LLC.   Ghanaian partners include one company (Amstar Inc.), an NGO (The Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, CEESD) and Nana Afaokwa, the paramount chief of the Domeabra region in Ghana.

The students in Ghana have formed an NGO (The Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, CEESD)

The project is moving from the research phase into a venture with the Ghanaian partners. The first 100 commercial prototypes will be manufactured in the US to perfect the process, possibly this year, in a manufacturing cell consisting of micro-CNC equipment. This cell will either be shipped to Ghana or replicated in that country. The initial manufacturing location will be in Domeabra, a village near Kumasi. Plans are to expand to Cameroon and Kenya in a year.

Story about Twiglight

Engineering for Change (Nov 2010)




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