Mike Chino

Energy Generating Soccer Ball Brings Clean Power to Off-Grid Areas

by , 02/03/10

sustainable design, green design, soccket ball, alternative energy, renewable energy, social design, humanitarian design, energy generating soccer ball, kinetic energy

When the sun goes down many developing countries rely upon dangerous kerosene lamps, which emit hazardous fumes and generate 190 million metric tons of CO2 each year. Seeking an eco-friendly alternative to this trend, four Harvard engineering students developed the Soccket – a soccer ball that generates and stores electricity during play. Soccer is found in just about every African country, so the energy-generating ball has great potential to encourage healthy activity while producing clean electricity to light up the night.

sustainable design, green design, soccket ball, alternative energy, renewable energy, social design, humanitarian design, energy generating soccer ball, kinetic energyPhoto from Soccket’s study of soccer play in Nairobi, Kenya

The Soccket was designed for use in off-grid areas where electricity for interior lighting and charging cell phones is hard to come by. The ball works by capturing kinetic energy through an inductive coil mechanism, which works in a similar manner to those flashlights that are powered by shaking. As the ball is batted about, it draws a magnet through a coil, creating current that is stored in a battery.

According to the designers, the device weighs little more than a standard soccer ball, and 15 minutes of play produces enough energy to illuminate a small LED for three hours. The students are planning to use a buy-one-give-one model (similar to the BoGo light) to distribute the devices, selling them in western markets to subsidize their distribution to those in need.

Here at Inhabitat we’re huge fans of designs that benefit communities, cut down on carbon emissions, and enable developing nations. The Soccket does all of that and brings fun into the mix by tapping the boundless energy of kids at play.

+ Soccket

Via Green Inc.

Lead photo: Soccket prototype from pilot study in Durban, South Africa

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6 Comments

  1. jamesrobin September 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    It sounds like a good thing to adapt for wave action. Balls could be tethered in the surf allowing easy retrieval and perhaps the use of non-balls like waste plastic jugs

  2. practicalaction February 16, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Amazing idea – great to see students turning their talents to looking at this issue. I’d have concerns over the cost and robustness of the ball – but at least someone is thinking out of the box.

    It reminds me of the playpump idea that used the idea of kids playing to pump water http://blog.playpumps.org/how-the-playpump-system-works/

    When you realise that 1.6 billion people in the world have no access to electricity you realise what a huge problem this is, and that we need people to think about how to overcome this situation

  3. davidwayneosedach February 4, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    What a great idea! Hopefully this kinetic energy can be derived from other sports.

  4. jack@sportsbuzz.com February 4, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    What an amazing idea. With all the soccer being played we should
    get a lot of energy.

  5. Tatiane February 4, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Good Morning

    Here is Tatiane from Brazil.
    I´m really interested in houses as those built in Africa for soccer ball.
    So is it possible to bring this house style to Brazil?
    Please let me know more about it.

    Thank you so much

  6. lendah February 3, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    This concept has been around for a while, and it’s interesting to see someone take it on, but often the cost of a normal soccer ball is out of the price range for most young children in impoverished nations. The ones they do have get beat up pretty quickly from normal play, and often times in North Africa I’d see kids playing with improvised balls in the streets made out of paper.

    So unless this is a nearly indestructible soccer ball that collects kinetic energy for about the same cost as a normal soccer ball, this is really a waste of money. I’d think the investment would be better made in small solar arrays to replace the kerosene lamps.

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