Discover Magazine has a round-up of ten innovations that are ingenious in their simplicity, and potential to help the world. Named “confluent” technologies, they are all effective, affordable and sustainable for use in the developing world (and beyond). They range from micro-hydroelectric power to solar powered LED lamps and charcoal made from sugarcane.

One of our favorites is,using soil to generate power (!). Discover reports:

Who needs nickel cadmium batteries or coal plants for electricity when you have soil? A Harvard team of faculty and African students have tapped into soil-dwelling microbes in order to provide electricity for families in Tanzania. When the microbes found in the soil digest organic materials, they naturally produce a small current, which can be harnessed with a simple device consisting of two electrodes and a small circuit board. One trash-barrel-sized unit filled with soil can produce enough electricity to light two bedrooms for a decade or more, says Harvard biology professor Peter Girguis. While each unit currently costs about $50, the team is testing new materials that would drive the price down to $7.

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