With skies opening up on Mumbai, heavy downpour has been lashing the financial capital of India for the last few days. But did you know that these billions of litres of rainwater have an enormous electric potential, if tapped the right way?
Well, they do, and Reyhan Jamalova — a 15-year-old girl from Azerbaijan — has successfully invented a smart device that harvests the energy of raindrops to generate electric power!
The idea for Rainergy (as Jamalova has named her device) came to the 9th grade student after her father wondered aloud, “If you can make energy from wind, why not from rain?” Prodded into thinking about the answer to this question, she paired up with her friend, Zahra Gasimzade, to build a device that could harvest energy from rainwater.
The duo were assisted by their physics tutors during their four months of designing and calculations, with the government of Azerbaijan providing the seed money (USD 20,000).
Simply put, Rainergy is a 9-meter-high device with four main parts: a rainwater collector, a water tank, an electric generator and a battery. Once the tank fills up with the help of the collector, the rainwater is allowed to flow through the generator at high speed. The electricity generated by this process is stored in the battery and can be used for household purposes.
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Based on this simple system, Jamalova and her friend have designed two prototypes that use only seven litres of rainwater: a small one that can light up three LED lamps and a bigger one that can light up nearly 22 LED lamps. As such, they can be combined to relieve pressure on the local power grid and create a backup source of electricity.
In addition to the fact that Rainergy is effective even when there is no rain (thanks to its battery storage), it is also very eco-friendly — it emits only about 10g/kwh of CO2 during electricity production, a low amount compared to other alternative energy solutions.
Moreover, while piezoelectric rain generators produce only 25 mW of power, the more efficient Rainergy produces 22W of power. In fact, according to Rainergy’s website, the low-cost device can generate roughly 3,626 kWH of electricity in a year, enough to light up a small family’s household.
“We designed Rainergy to produce electricity from the rain, to solve the problem of energy deficiency in rainy and low income countries,”Jamalova told Haaretz, adding that her motto is to “Light up one house at a time”.
Unsurprisingly, Jamalova’s innovation has attracted interest from countries that receive heavy rainfall and have several underprivileged communities that lack access to electricity, such as Philippines, India, Malaysia and Indonesia.
In India especially, it garnered much appreciation when it was first presented at the Global Summit of Entrepreneurship in November 2017. In fact, Jamalova also received a special mention in Ivanka Trump’s speech on the occasion.
Rainergy’s young creator also received an honourable mention at the Model UN Conference in Azerbaijan in 2017 and made it to the final stage of the competition at ClimateLaunchpad, Europe’s largest green business idea competition. Moreover, Jamalova also earned a place on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia List 2018 – the first Azerbaijani person in history to make the prestigious list!