National Geographic’s Great Energy Challenge highlights companies, organizations, and individuals that come up with initiatives to supply accessible resources for reliable energy to energy-poor parts of the world. Innovators include Abdishakur Mohamoud, who addresses the shortage of electricity in homes in rural Somalia in East Africa. Mohamoud was awarded a Great Energy Grant to found his company, Qorax, which provides solar lamps to customers that cannot afford the high prices of electricity.
Among the game changers that have been interviewed for National Geographic’s challenge is Manaj Bhargava, entrepreneur and founder of 5 Hour Energy. Since it first arrived on the market in 2004, Bhargava has made billions from his a vitamin-B energy shot. Bhargava only recently began publicly funding charities, so long as he believes that they will make a long-lasting difference in the world. Now he dedicates 90% of his $4 billion net worth to his Stage 2 Innovations lab in Farmington, Michigan, where a team of engineers works on projects that will impact water availability, energy, and healthcare worldwide. Three projects are discussed in this article.
The documentary can be viewed below:
The Stage 2 team consists of more than 100 engineers of all different backgrounds. The main focus of the project is to adopt ideas and concepts that have been around for centuries, but have not advanced due to perceived impracticality or inefficiency. Bhargava offers the team funding, plus as much 5 Hour Energy as they need in order to bring these ideas into fruition, designing efficient machines that can be manufactured on a large scale.
Bhargava’s work, business plans, and cause can be viewed in his documentary titled “Billions in Change,” which is free for viewing. He is currently looking to distribute the projects worldwide and hopes to spread the word about the prospects of his work.
Free Electric exercise bike/generator: With a single hour of operation, this stationary exercise bike is claimed to generate enough electricity to power small household appliances, including lamps, toaster ovens, and cell phones. Pedaling turns a turbine that generates electricity and stores it in a battery for use throughout the day. This device allows for a clean energy source that can easily be used in homes. Bhargava plans to distribute 10,000 of these bikes in India next year, claiming that the bike could be made for less than $100. He expects that a community may share a bike to power numerous batteries for several households.
Water: In their Rain Project, the Stage 2 team presents a desalination device that generates potable water from saltwater and waste water. According to the documentary, the Stage 2 team is currently coming up with a design that can be mass-manufactured. Along with addressing the shortage of water in parts of the U.S., they plan to eventually load hundreds of the machines onto barges, converting saltwater into drinkable water as the devices are shipped overseas.
The design has been shown to produce drinkable water and is approved by the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. It can process up to 1000 gallons every hour.
The machine works by heating the water to convert it into vapor, distilling it, and then condensing it into potable water. To touch on efficiency, the engineers claim that most heat from the process is regenerated so that it can be repurposed to contribute to the condenser.
Health: When it comes to health, biomedical engineers from Stage 2 are working on an external-counter-pulsation device called Renew ECP that treats patient with poor circulation.
Like most muscles in the body, arterial walls need to be worked to strengthen and remain healthy. People can exercise their circulatory system by participating in physical activity, which causes arteries in the muscles to constrict for an increase in mean arterial blood pressure. In turn, the heart pumps harder to get the blood moving faster to oxygenate the muscles.
On the other hand, it may be hard for people with bad circulation to get enough oxygen to their muscles. They often get out of breath when exercising, making it difficult for them to do any kind of exercise at all. As a result, mean arterial resistance is rarely heightened, so artery walls begin to thin due to lack of exercise. They may also clog with plaque.
Poor circulation and weak arteries near the heart can lead to a range of health problems. On this front, the Renew ECP device provides a mean to strengthen the arteries near the heart without requiring exercise. It supplies external pulses on the lower limbs during diastole, which is the relaxation state of the heart as it fills with blood between contractions, or systole. The contraction on the lower limbs during diastole forces blood to the upper torso, increasing the blood volume to the heart and pressure in the arteries near the heart. Over several treatments, the aorta and arteries that surround the heart strengthen so that the patient may eventually start to exercise again.
Bhargava has an intricate business plan to change the world. “Let’s do stuff,” he says at the end of his documentary.