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Health

"Venus fly trap" lamp stops mosquitoes and disease while lighting up Malaysia

Flickr: Katja Schultz

Mosquitoes are the worst. Yes, they’re food for other species but with increasing temperatures, drought, and less flowing fresh water due to to climate change in many regions, these pesky insects are out of control.

Fortunately, scientists at the University of Malaya in Malaysia created the coolest solution to trap mosquitoes.

via GIPHY

Their invention is essentially a solar AND wind powered street lamp which also acts as a trap to catch mosquitoes. It’s pretty much the coolest invention of 2016 (at least so far).

How does this “venus mosquito trap” work?

Like how the venus fly traps works by producing a seducing nectar that draws in it's prey, this street lamp produces a "human scent" aka CO2 which attracts mosquitoes then traps them. 

There’s a few components at work within the lamp. First, it uses LED lighting that is solar powered by a photovoltaic panel located on the top of lamp.

Next, it’s also wind powered by a “vertical axis wind turbine” aka VAWT which is enclosed with an “omni-direction guide vane” or ODGV. Basically, what the ODGV does is create a venturi effect (link provied in case you want to brush up on your physics) which in turn increases wind speed and thus more power--all thanks to the wind.

It’s complicated, but what you really to need know here is the combination of these two types of wind power generates 3.4 more power output than one alone. This amount of power and design allows the lamp to stay lit through severe weather (when sunshine is usually unavailable), such as flooding which can destroy power systems in developing countries.

malaysia flood Image: Flickr: Lan Rasso

Finally, there’s some chemistry happening in this futuristic fly trap. The street lamp emits very low emissions of CO2 which mosquitoes are tricked into thinking is human breath being exhaled. To attract mosquitoes the street lamp must emit CO2 in sustainable way with low emissions.

How did scientists manage to do this?

They played off mosquitoes kryptonite—UV light! Mosquitoes are sensitive when exposed to weak levels of ultraviolet light. So scientists placed a weak UV light and suction fan where the CO2 is emitted and boom mosquitoes are trapped, keeping them from spreading Dengue fever, malaria and other diseases.

But wait...how is the CO2 emitted? The UV light in the lamp not only weakens mosquitoes but when it reacts with Titanium Dioxide (TIO2) it produces a low emission of CO2. So scientists coated part of the mosquito trap with TIO2 and viola a sustainable, low emission, life-saving lamp!

To see a prototype of the street lamp click here.

What inspired this innovative life saving solution?

venus fly trap lamp stops mosquitoes and disease in Malaysia b1Image: Flickr: Christoper

The growth of the dengue fever over the past fifty years lead researcher Chong Wen Tong and the team at at the University of Malaya to look for new ways to combat mosquitos. 

In Asia-Pacific countries dengue fever costs countries an estimated $2 billion USD and puts 1.8 billion lives at risk each year. In Malaysia alone the disease killed over 200 people last year.

While the street lamp is currently costly to manufacture and install, it's an investment that can literally save billions.