Seven Interesting Inventions Which Might Help You Survive In A Post-Apocalyptic World

15 Aug

In the last few months, I’ve come across a number of interesting inventions which could help you survive in a post-apocalyptic world, or at least help make your life easier. So without much ado, here are my seven favourite ones:

1. A Flashlight Powered By The Heat Of Your Own Hand: This is a really interesting bit of technology which makes use of the heat gradient between your skin and the ambient air temperature to create enough electricity to power super-efficient LED bulbs. What’s more, it was invented by a Canadian high school student and the parts only cost $26! With no moving parts to break down and no need for batteries, this would certainly be useful thing to have in a post-apocalyptic world.

2. Moser Lamps: Imagine this, you’re holed up in your safe house, all the windows are boarded up to keep out whatever’s wandering around out there and there’s no electricity. Are you just going to sit around in the gloom? Thanks to one Alfredo Moser, you don’t have to. In 2002, this Brazilian mechanic came up with a way of lighting up dingy indoor spaces using nothing more than a clear plastic bottle filled with water and a splash of bleach. How does this work? Well, if you poke the top of the bottle through a roof and leave the rest hanging through, the water in it will refract the light, making it glow as brightly as a 60 watt bulb (as long as it’s sunny outside of course). The bleach is just there to stop algae growing in the water. This power-free lighting method is now being used in more than 15 countries, helping some of the world’s poorest people light their houses for nothing. In a post-apocalyptic world, this would be the way I’d bring light into my safe house if I didn’t have any power. If you want to make your own Moser lamps you can find out how here.

3. Solar Showers: Okay, solar showers have been around for a while, but they’re great. You simply fill them up with water and leave them out in the sun. Because of their design, this will heat up the water and then you hang it up somewhere nice and high, and let gravity to the rest. One of these was always a key bit of kit when I’ve living out of a tent for any extended period of time. I admit, it’s not going to save your life, but if there’s one thing that’s going to make you feel better about living in a post-apocalyptic world, it’s going to be the ability to get clean in a nice, warm shower every now and then.

4. Pot-In-Pot-Refrigeration: Once the electricity goes off, you lose your ability to keep food cool and stop it going off, right? Wrong, thanks to this invention from Mohammed Bah Abba. You take two pots made of porous clay and put one inside the other with a gap between them. You fill this gap with sand and then wet it. As the water evaporates, it draws heat from the inner container and so cools it, and anything you place in it, down. It’s really that simple and lets you keep perishable items fresh for several weeks.

5. The Solar Stove: Solar stoves are designed to reflect and concentrate heat onto a specific point. If you place food at this point you can cook it without the need for fuel, fire or power. This makes them perfect for post-apocalyptic survival as they need no resources and also they don’t produce smoke which might attract unwanted attention. And you can use them for more than just cooking. They can reach temperatures of up to 165°C/325°F which is hot enough to sterilise water or pasteurize milk.

6. Solar Stirling Engines: So far, the inventions I’ve mentioned here assume you don’t have any electricity, but why not make your own? Then you can just plug everything in like normal and pretend the world hasn’t come to an end. Of the various ways of doing this, my personal favourite is something called a solar stirling engine. They’re more efficient than solar panels, they’re easier to make and maintain and their just plain cool! A stirling engine uses the difference in heat between its top and bottom to generate movement. The greater the heat difference, the faster the engine works. In a solar stirling, a parabolic reflector is used to concentrate the sun’s rays onto one end of a stirling engine, providing a large enough heat difference to generate a good amount of electricity. Get one of these and you could be powering your house for free and you won’t have to worry about the lights going out as civilisation collapses around you!

7. Kinetic Pavements: Of course, living in Scotland we really don’t get much sun so most of these inventions won’t do me much good. However, there’s another new technology which would work even here in our less-than-sunny climate. Here’s the situation: the end of the world has come and there’s all these zombies shuffling around everywhere. Why not use them to generate your electricity for you? This is where kinetic pavement tiles come in. They’re made is such a way that whenever someone (alive or dead!) steps on them, they bend and generate a little bit of electricity. Put enough of them out and get enough people stepping on them and you can generate a lot of power, and if there’s one thing there’s going to be a lot of when the zombies rise, it’s the undead shuffling around so you might as well make the most of them. Here’s the plan: get a load of kinetic pavement tiles, spread them out over your local football pitch, wire them up and then herd as many zombies in as you can find. Hey presto, you’ve got your own zombie power station!

So that’s it for my list of seven interesting inventions which might help you survive in a post-apocalyptic world. I’m sure there’s plenty others out there too, and if you have a favourite which didn’t make my list, feel free add it as a comment on this post.

From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

9 Responses to “Seven Interesting Inventions Which Might Help You Survive In A Post-Apocalyptic World”

  1. jokelly65 15/08/2013 at 20:19 #

    thanks for the list.. I may just be installing a Solar stirling in my house now..

    • cmdrysdale 15/08/2013 at 23:00 #

      If I lived somewhere where it was feasible, I’d definitely consider installing a solar stirling engine. There’s a great version which has uses molten salt to store energy and keep it going for up to four days without any sun. They’re truly amazing, but unfortunately they need a bit more space than I have available … And, as I said in the article, I live in Scotland which is hardly well known for it’s sun!

  2. RStorey 15/08/2013 at 21:32 #

    My favorite is Moser Lamps. What an amazing idea born of necessity.

    • cmdrysdale 15/08/2013 at 23:03 #

      The Moser lamps are pretty amazing. They were the starting point for this posting. It’s such basic physics, I’m amazed no one had come up with it before. As you say, necessity is a great driving force. It’s also pretty amazing that the guy who came up with it didn’t try and patent it, but instead has effectively given it to the world for free.

  3. Fred Bonds 16/08/2013 at 05:33 #


    I am enjoying reading your postings. I am sending you the first chapter of my book to get your impressions. Since you are a marine biologist I think you will get a kick the chapters that follow.

    Let me know what you think

    Book title is : The Doomsday Bug: A Real World Zombie Scenario

    Fred Bonds aka T. R. Remington

    • cmdrysdale 16/08/2013 at 19:05 #

      Hi Fred,

      Happy to take a look at this if I can get the time. Feel free to email the first chapter to cmdrysdale [at]

      All the best,


  4. lararthompson 18/08/2013 at 02:18 #

    This list is incredible. Well researched! I’m always on the lookout for off-the-grid powering alternatives and I’ve (shamefully) never heard of any of these designs (well, I’ve heard of using the peltier effects in other guises). Thanks!

    • cmdrysdale 18/08/2013 at 17:29 #

      Glad you liked this list. It was really fun list to put together and gave me an excuse to write about a number of interesting tidbits I’d picked up over the years. The Stirling Engines, in particular, have always facinated me as a potentially interesting way to provide very efficient off-the-grid power almost anywhere where there is enough sun.


  1. ZeeTech Incorporated – A Dystopian Short Story About The Dark Side Of Corporate Power | Colin M. Drysdale - 10/04/2014

    […] short story grew out of a previous post on new technologies that could help you survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Here, I first introduced the subject of ‘kinetic pavements’ and how they could be used […]

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