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Engineer Uses Empty Coke Bottles And LEDs To Solve Africa’s Lighting Issue


While it is true that science and technology are morphing the world into a better place and we are witnessing some really wonderful breakthroughs, the fact remains that not all benefits of technology are being delivered to every place.
For instance; rural Africa still lacks lighting and once the darkness sets in, it really is a problem to manage lighting. But such needs result in inventions and so is the case over here. Meet Michael Suttner who belongs to South Africa and is the person behind a innovative new solution, Lightie. The Lightie is an LED module, solar powered, which can be screwed into a standard bottle neck (22 mm).

A prototype was introduced and patented back in October, 2013. Suttner entered a number of design contests – which he all won by the way – to exhibit his gadget. He didn’t win the International DesignBoom Awards due to a technicality (the product had to be available in market). The whole idea took Suttner three years and now he stands as the proud owner of his own gadget. He said; ‘Being on the doorstep to Africa here in South Africa, there is a lot of awareness about how many don’t have access to electricity and how many people die each year from paraffin usage. I realized that the technology was there… I couldn’t understand why this problem wasn’t being solved, so I decided I wanted to research a little bit more.’ Suttner soon realized that the problem wasn’t the availability of technology but rather mass distribution of it. He says; ‘I thought if I could solve the distribution problem, I could really solve this problem on a global scale.’

He went on to focus on Coca Cola’s distribution model before realizing that maybe he didn’t need a new distribution model but rather make use of existing one and particularly speaking, he could employ the bottles themselves to spread this technology throughout the world. Because come to think of it; bottles are present everywhere. According to Suttner; ‘I just thought if I could make it to look like this (while he waves the bottle cap)and it could clip into a Coke bottle then surely Coke would be interested in helping me distribute because it works with their Coke bottles, which is their biggest byproduct. This was my thinking behind the Lightie.’

The Lightie is well protected in the bottle, and Suttner is hopeful that he can distribute it by coming up with an agreement with Coke. According to Suttner, the Lightie will cost $10-13 and the specs of this gadget are similar to the solar powered lighting currently available in the market. According to Suttner, he has a lot of offers from different companies but in his own words; I’d like to sit down with them and see which company can help me realise the dream of solving this worldwide problem. I hope in the next five years the Lightie will be on the shelf next to Coca Cola, next to paraffin in all these poor countries around the world as an alternative, so somebody can walk in and decide. That’s my ultimate goal.’

We wish him good luck! Check out the video below for more details: