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Mobile Nanogrids Can Provide Electricity, Clean Water During a Disaster

A single Nanogrid from Sesame Solar can power up to six homes.

Andy Altman Director of Video Production
Andy Altman is a producer covering all things science and tech. He led production on CNET's award-winning limited documentary series Hacking the Apocalypse. He also created and co-hosts our video series What the Future.
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Andy Altman
2 min read

When natural disasters strike, one of the first crucial resources that can get disrupted is electricity. Startup Sesame Solar thinks it's found a solution to providing power for emergency crews and displaced residents with its mobile Nanogrids.

At first glance, a Nanogrid may look like a food truck. It's designed to be hauled the same way you'd transport a moving trailer. But once deployed, the solar panels that line the Nanogrid are revealed. The panels charge the onboard batteries, and the company says a single Nanogrid can produce anywhere from 3 to 20 kilowatts. That's enough to power four to six houses. 

Sesame Solar's Nanogrid trailer

A Nanogrid from Sesame Solar before being deployed.

Sesame Solar

Lauren Flanagan, Sesame's co-founder and CEO, calls the Nanogrid the world's first 100% renewably powered mobile system. "You don't need fossil fuel. You don't need diesel or natural gas. Just water and sunshine," she said. Watch the video above to learn more about how the Nanogrids work.

Nanogrid from above, with solar panels showing

One person can set up a Nanogrid in about 15 minutes.

Sesame Solar

In addition to solar power, the Nanogrids are equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell that turns water into hydrogen. The hydrogen can be stored in tanks and used to charge the batteries when they dip below 35%. Nanogrids also have an onboard water filtration system that can provide up to 500 liters of potable water per day, and a 5G mesh network so people displaced in a disaster can get online.

Nanogrid from behind, with doors open to show the interior

A Nanogrid from Sesame Solar deployed on the island of Dominica following Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Sesame Solar

Sesame's Nanogrids can be customized depending on a customer's needs. They can be built as a medical unit or a communications hub, among other possibilities. A single unit costs anywhere from $100,000 to $375,000.