Energy futureGraduate student invents gravity lamp

Published 21 February 2008

Virginia Tech engineering student wins second place in a Greener Gadgets Conference competition for inventing a floor lamp powered by gravity; lamp can last 200 years

Clay Moulton of Springfield, Virginia, received his master’s of science degree last year from Virginia Tech, but already has an intriguing invention to his name: He created a gravity lamp as a part of his master’s thesis. The LED lamp, named Gravia, is an acrylic column a little more than four feet high. The entire column glows when activated by electricity generated by the slow, silent fall of a mass that spins a rotor. The light output of 600-800 lumens lasts about four hours. To turn on the lamp, the user moves weights from the bottom to the top of the lamp and into a mass sled near the top. The sled begins its gentle glide down and, within a few seconds, the LEDs are illuminated. “It’s more complicated than flipping a switch,” said Moulton, “but can be an acceptable, even enjoyable routine, like winding a beautiful clock or making good coffee.” Moulton estimates Gravia’s mechanisms will last more than 200 years.

A patent is pending on the Gravia lamp.