Friday, July 20, 2018
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Fil-Canadian invents body-heated flashlight

A Filipino-Canadian teenager, Ann Makosinski, describes herself as an average student who likes science and fiction writer F. Sionil José. She is also working on making the world a better place.

The 16-year-old is the inventor of a flashlight powered solely by body heat—absolutely no batteries are needed to make it work.

She says her project was inspired by a friend from Mindanao whose family could not afford to pay for electricity.


Without light at night, her friend could not study properly. She failed an entire school year because she could not read her lessons.

“I have not told her about my flashlight because it is not ready for use yet. It needs to be brighter and much cheaper to make,” the Canada-based Makosinski says in an e-mail interview with the Inquirer. “I want to give her and many other kids something that is useful and lasting. If it’s only half good, nobody will use it.”

The flashlight, however, was good enough for her to win the 2013 Google Science Fair in the 15-16 years old category.

Makosinski’s story has been shared several times in the social media and has caught the interest of several people, including American TV host Jimmy Fallon.

He was so impressed by her that when she guested in his “Tonight Show” recently, he said, “I’m going to work for her one day.”

Makosinski uses a thermoelectric device called “Peltier tiles” to power her flashlight. Peltier tiles produce electricity when one side is heated and the other side is cooled.

Her flashlight can be heated with the palm of the hand and is cooled by the surrounding air through the hollow tunnel of the device.

“You need 3 to 5 degrees Celsius temperature difference for the flashlight to work,” she says. “It is ideal for cold temperatures because the larger the temperature differential, the greater the light produced.”


Makosinski says her flashlight can produce up to 5-foot “candles of brightness”—below the commercial standard—but she says she is working to make the light brighter.

She says several companies have voiced interest in her flashlight. But she is adamant that until her flashlight achieves higher brightness at a lower cost, she will not agree to produce it for the public.

“Distribution of some of my flashlights to those who need it will be part of any agreement I’ll have with a company,” she says.

Makosinski is currently working on a new but related project of a reading light also powered by body heat. She plans to show it in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair this May.

Hopefully, this new project of hers would reach her friend in Mindanao. She has been to Manila, Camiguin and Bukidnon, and could not wait to go back to the country.

“I enjoyed the white sand beach in Camiguin. I observed the incredible nature and diversity in the Philippines,” she says when asked about what it is she remembers most about the country.

“[I also] visited a small school in a mountainous region of Mindanao and played with kids on the street in a village.”

Makosinski is a big fan of F. Sionil José, a national artist for literature. She has read his short story “Puppy Love,” book of poetry “Questions” and some parts of the “Rosales” saga.

This tidbit should not come as a surprise since her Polish father, Art, made the film documentary “Francisco Sionil José—A Filipino Odyssey.”

She says she and her father always take things apart and put them back together again. She shares her workspace with her father.

“There are multiple tools and equipment on it. [It has] a microscope, a couple of volt meters, an oscilloscope and a soldering iron,” Makosinski says. “I share my work bench with my dad. We also share boxes of screws and electronic components taken out of cell phones and old printers.”

That is apparently how a young inventor is raised—with access to tool boxes and transistors.

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TAGS: Ann Makosinski, body-heated flashlight, Fil-Canadian, flashlight, invention
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