From left: Omar Al Khattab, Omar Mansour, Ahmad Yasser and Omar Ganem, students of American University of Sharjah. Image Credit: AUS

Sharjah: Four students of the American University of Sharjah (AUS) have been chosen to showcase their project for low-cost electricity production at the Hult Prize competition on September 15, at the UN in New York.

The ‘U-Light’ project envisions using a winding motion of the hand to crank up a simple, reliable, and affordable source of electricity. It can produce enough energy for a household to light up bulbs and also for other energy needs.

The 2018 Hult Prize is a challenge to student teams around the world to develop energy innovations that can be scaled to improve the lives of millions.

The AUS team’s project seeks to find simple and affordable solutions to electricity needs of the world, especially of those living in developing countries.

Speaking about their project, students Omar Al Khattab (mechanical engineering), Omar Mansour (chemical engineering), Ahmad Yasser (electrical engineering) and Omar Ghanem (business management), said they are excited and honoured on being chosen for the global prize, which attracts more than 100,000 entries from around the world.

Sharing details about the project, Yasser said that out of 1.2 billion people who live “off the grid” (without electricity), 95.5 million of them live in Nigeria alone. Kerosene, which is a major source of lighting in these countries, is not only expensive but poses serious hazards to their health and environment.

“U-Light is more affordable and safe to use. In comparison, the $17 (around Dh62) U-Light device saves up to $200 (around Dh734) for families that live off one dollar a day. This allows them to get more productive hours of light at no extra cost,” said Yasser.

Yasser, who was studying antique mechanical clocks at the time, realised that generating light using the same concept could have a global impact and help more than a billion people.

Congratulating the students on their achievement, Professor Bjorn Kjerfve, AUS chancellor, said AUS “continues to deliver its research agenda, establishing research institutes and centres, preparing for several PhD programmes, and attracting the best graduate and undergraduate students from across the region and beyond”.