What is Billions in Change?
Billions in Change is a movement to build a better future by developing and implementing solutions to serious problems facing the world in the areas of water, energy, and healthcare. Solving those problems requires more than just talk and awareness; it requires action, which is our focus.
Who is behind Billions in Change?
Manoj Bhargava, creator of 5-hour Energy, founded Billions in Change as a way to positively impact humanity by providing solutions to pressing global problems.
What does Billions in Change do?
The goal of Billions in Change is to have a direct impact on the fundamental needs of the world. We are finding, developing, and distributing inventions intended to bring immediate relief in three basic areas – water, energy, and health.
Why only create solutions for water, energy, and health problems?
At least for now, we are focused on the fundamental issues that affect the largest portion of humanity: affordable and reliable electricity, clean water, and effective healthcare. They are three of the most basic human needs and also influence food availability, nutrition, morbidity and mortality, livelihood, education, quality of life, poverty, crime, war and almost every aspect of our lives.
What is the timing to get these inventions to the public?
Renew ECP began shipping in November 2015. Visit our US website or Asia website for information about distribution in your region. We’re in the process of setting up manufacturing facilities in the US, India, and Singapore for the Hans Free Electric™ bike and Power Pack. Initial distribution should begin in late March 2017. We intended to start sooner, but results from theHans Free Electric™ pilot study indicated that we needed to do some significant design modifications to both the bike and the battery. We’ve also made some changes to Rain Maker, and are in the process of an intensive testing phase. We anticipate a pilot of Rain Maker later this year, and also are working on a couple of additional water devices. The graphene solution is still in early stages of development. Join us or follow Billions in Change on social media for updates.
Did you invent these solutions?
Energy-producing bikes are not new, but the electricity produced by Hans Free Electric™ isn’t comparable to the old bikes. Before Hans Free Electric™ there wasn’t anything that produced enough electricity to simultaneously power 24 light bulbs, a fan, a phone, and a tablet. Rain Maker and Limitless Energy (the graphene project) are Stage 2 inventions. We did not invent the Renew ECP machine, but we made it better, smaller and more efficient.
Will your inventions be too expensive to implement?
All of the innovations will be affordable, and all are much simpler, more efficient, more useful, and less expensive in the long run than many of the alternatives.
Are you interested in other technologies or just the ones you are promoting?
We are looking at many different technologies that could improve what we’re doing. We want our products to be the best and most efficient products on the market. We are open to hearing from and working with people who want to make a real difference in the world. But if people are just looking to get rich off their inventions, we are not interested. If you have an idea you would like to share, you may do so here. Please note you should not submit any confidential or proprietary content.
What roadblocks are you facing to produce all your inventions commercially?
At this point, we’re not necessarily delayed because of roadblocks, but rather because we have high standards for usefulness and efficiency. Every time our engineers think of a way to make one of the inventions smaller, simpler, less expensive, or more useful, we take the time to build and test the new design. We don’t want to put out an inferior product if there’s something we could have done to make it better. Unfortunately, all of that rethinking and redesigning takes time. This has been the case for both the Hans Free Electric™ bike and for Rain Maker.
Can you discuss any new inventions on the horizon at Stage 2?
We’re focused right now on making improvements to our current solutions and setting up processes for production and distribution. When those are in place, we’ll turn more of our attention to the other inventions we’re working on. We will discuss those as we’re able. Join us or follow Billions in Change on social media for updates.
If Manoj is willing to give billions of dollars away, why not just give the money to the needy?
Poverty isn’t caused by a lack of money. Rather, poverty results from an inability to earn a sufficient living. Therefore, giving money to the needy won’t be a permanent fix. Our aim is to use great inventions to enable people to make their own livelihoods, and to empower people—regardless of where they live or how much money they have—to achieve their maximum wellbeing.
How is Manoj spending the 99% of his wealth that he’s earmarked for philanthropy?
Currently, Manoj is fulfilling his commitment through a variety of activities. He is giving money to charities in India, funding the construction and operation of new non-profit hospitals in India, investing in other health, agriculture, and clean water projects for the poor, funding the Stage 2 invention shop, finding and developing new products and technologies that align with the mission (including buying patents when necessary), establishing manufacturing plants and distribution channels in different parts of the world, and employing the hundreds of people involved with the different stages of these projects
If Manoj has committed 99% of his wealth to philanthropy, why not just give the inventions away instead of charging for them?
The cost to solve the problems facing humanity far surpasses the wealth of any one person. If Manoj were to give away the inventions he’s developed, very few people would ultimately be served. Even before the products get to market, significant sums of money have already been spent on research and development, building manufacturing infrastructure, and paying the hundreds of employees involved at each step in the process. Manoj believes the best way to fulfill his mission of developing products and technologies that can benefit humanity is to reinvest the revenue received for the products. That reinvestment could involve subsidizing existing products for those who can’t afford them, expanding the manufacturing and distribution of those products into new regions, or developing and producing entirely new products. All money received goes back to the mission. It’s the only way to create scaled and sustained impact over the long term, and to improve the lives of the most people possible.
Can you ensure that child labor isn’t being used in your factories?
We use strict and thorough vetting criteria to evaluate all organizations and companies with which we may work. We then coordinate with trusted on-the-ground partners to oversee all production and distribution activities.
How can I work with you?
We receive an overwhelming number of inquiries from around the world about how people can work with us. At this point, the best way to inform us about your background, skills, and specific area of interest would be to click here and select the appropriate option from the dropdown menu. Upload a cover letter or proposal detailing your interest, as well as your resume. While we can assure that your materials will be reviewed by someone on our team, we cannot promise a response to everyone who reaches out. Thank you for understanding.
Can Manoj contribute to my cause?
We see a lot of great causes and ideas come in from around the world. Unfortunately, we have so many projects we’re working on already that we don’t have the capacity to take on anything new just now.
I have an idea or invention I’d like to share with Manoj or Stage 2. How can I do that?
If you have an idea you would like to share, you may do so here. However, please do not submit any confidential or proprietary content. Please also note that we receive an overwhelming number of inquiries and suggestions from around the world every day. And while we can assure that your message will be read by someone on our team, we cannot promise a response to everyone who reaches out. Thank you for understanding.
Do you allow people to come to your location and see your company at work?
We currently do not offer tours of our facilities.
Are you planning any activities in my area?
Our Billions in Change road team made a number of appearances in North America in 2016, but will not schedule any events in 2017 until later in the year, when distribution of the Hans Free Electric™ bike is underway. You can stay posted on upcoming events through our Facebook page or on our website.
How can I help in my local area?
If you haven’t already, please join us by signing up as a volunteer. While we’re working to perfect the inventions and create production and distribution plans, we’re trying to build a base of supporters that we can mobilize on the ground once we’re ready to scale the solutions.
Can I donate or volunteer?
We do not accept donations, but we need your help. Please encourage your friends to watch and share our trailer and film, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. If you would like to volunteer, please join us to receive updates and information on upcoming volunteer opportunities.
Do we need to get your permission to have a public viewing of the video?
You do not need permission to have a public viewing of the video, but if this is something you are interested in doing, we would love to be informed of your plans. If you are looking to draw a significant crowd, we may be able to help promote your event through our social networks.
I’d like to translate the film into my home language. What’s the process of doing that?
We are currently developing a process to subtitle the film with different languages, but would be happy to keep your information on file. Please click here to indicate your interest in being a volunteer translator and state the languages in which you are fluent.
I’m a teacher and would like to build some lessons around the Billions in Change film. Do you have any resources?
Indeed we do! We are developing an education toolkit that includes lesson plans for grades 6-12 based on the film. So far we have three units developed and are working on four more. Visit our Education page to view and download the available units.
What’s the status of Rain Maker?
We continue to modify Rain Maker to make it smaller and more efficient. Because of the scale of the project, we don’t want to release a substandard product. In the meantime, we’ve developed two other water solutions: one is for brackish water, and one is for greywater. We are currently in the testing phase, and expect to begin piloting all three water products sometime in 2017.
How much will one Rain Maker unit cost?
We’re still refining the prototype, so don’t have an estimate of cost that we’re able to release at this time.
If red tape is preventing the Rainmaker from being implemented in communities, why not go after large corporations that can use the technology?
We’re actually doing just that. There are several companies and universities that have expressed interest, and with whom we’re in conversation.
Is the salt byproduct that Rain Maker produces harmful to the environment?
The distillation process Rain Maker uses is no different from how the sun evaporates ocean water to form rain clouds: Fresh water is produced, and salt is left behind. The amount of fresh water created in both instances, however, is inconsequential compared to the volume of the ocean. That said, we commit to ensuring that if Rain Maker is used for desalination, the salt will be returned to the ocean in a manner that creates no negative impact on the marine environment. If Rain Maker is used for cleaning contaminated water, the salts, minerals, and pollutants left behind will be in a semi-solid state, and can be disposed of safely and efficiently in a land-based waste facility.
What type of power source is required to run the Rain Maker?
Rainmaker runs on 240V/480V 3-phase systems, and is designed to operate with generators so it can be run in very remote areas without a power grid.
Can the Rain Maker clean wastewater from the fracking process?
Yes it can, but the degree to which the water is purified depends on the contents of the wastewater. Rain Maker has not been tested on fracking wastewater to date.
Does Rain Maker remove lead, and could it be a solution to the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan?
The answer is both yes and no. The results of Rain Maker’s first round of testing in fall 2015 showed that it is effective at removing lead from contaminated water. However, the current problem in Flint is not an issue of the source of the water being contaminated, which is the scale at which Rain Maker could potentially help. Rather, it’s an issue of water infrastructure, where the pipes bringing water into homes have become corroded and are leaching lead and other toxins into the water. Rain Maker wasn’t designed to address water delivery issues.
Isn’t water one of the main ingredients of 5-hour Energy? Would Manoj consider using Rainmaker water to produce 5-hour?
Yes, that’s the plan.
Who can buy the Hans Free Electric™ bike?
We expect to have a few different customer bases for the bike and will be designing different features based on customer needs and preferences. The consumer version of the Hans Free Electric™ is the simplest and least expensive. With just one flywheel, it will be created strictly for people in energy-poor regions of the world wanting primarily to power lights. A commercial version of Hans Free Electric™ with two flywheels will be slightly more expensive and harder to pedal but will generate twice as much electricity. Finally, for people in wealthy countries who want the bike for exercise or who simply like the idea of generating their own power, the Hans Free Electric™ will have a few more bells and whistles, including a lithium-ion battery and more aesthetic features, and will be priced based on the market. For every US version of the bike we sell, one bike will be given to a poor school, health clinic, or household operating without electricity.
When will the Hans Free Electric™ bike be available for purchase?
We’re currently setting up our sales process and hope to be able to accept pre-orders by early March 2017. We anticipate that production facilities in India and the United States should be ready to begin shipping small numbers of bikes around late March 2017, and then ramp up production in the second half of year.
Why is the bike taking so long to get to market? I feel like I have been waiting forever.
Since October 2015 when we released the film we’ve been focused primarily on getting the processes and partnerships set up to begin production and distribution of the Hans Free Electric™ bike. In the meantime, we’ve also done a pretty significant design overhaul of the bike. (Check out the model shown in the film vs. how it looks today). More improvements were made based on our spring 2016 pilot study, including the development of a single-flywheel consumer version and a portable power pack equipped with lights, a USB port, and a solar panel. Now that those product designs have been finalized, we’re working on tooling at the production plants in the US and India and plan to have the first units ready to ship in late March 2017.
What is the price of Hans Free Electric™?
We estimate the price of the consumer version of the Hans Free Electric™ bike and Power Pack for the rural poor in India to be 17,000 rupees (US $250), which is our cost. But the actual price will be based on ability to pay. Those who can afford it will pay full price and subsidize those who pay less. In richer countries, like the US, the price will be based on the market. For every unit purchased in a wealthy country, one unit will be donated to a school, clinic, or underprivileged family in a less-advantaged country.
If Manoj says he’s donating 99% of his wealth to charity, why is he charging for the bikes instead of just giving them all away?
The cost to solve the problems facing humanity far surpasses the wealth of any one person. If Manoj were to give away the inventions he’s created, very few people would ultimately be served. Manoj has pledged that all money received for any of the inventions will be reinvested in the development and production of more products to benefit humanity.
How much electricity does Hans Free Electric™ generate?
The amount of energy the Hans Free Electric™ bike generates in an hour depends on how hard you want to pedal, and also whether you’re simply charging the battery, or also running powered devices while pedaling. For the commercial version of the bike (two flywheels), we estimate that the range of energy generation from easy-to-hard pedaling is about 50-200 Watts per hour. The consumer version of the bike (one flywheel) is easier to pedal, uses a smaller battery, and generates about 30-100 Watts per hour. The Hans Free Electric™ Power Pack that will accompany the consumer version of the bike stores 148 Watt-hours, while the commercial Power Pack can store 296 Watt-hours. Both batteries have maximum outputs of 160 Watts and are fused at 10 amps.
What accessories come with the Hans Free Electric™ bike?
Each Hans Free Electric™ bike comes with a portable Hans Free Electric™ Power Pack. The Power Pack has three built-in LED room lights, which can be used as a single (1-Watt), dual (2-Watts) or triple (3 Watts) light. It also has a two-position spotlight (1- and 2-Watt).
What extra accessories will be available on the US version of the bike?
The US version will have different voltage gauge pieces, more padding on seat areas, a calorie counter, higher-end parts, and will come with a larger battery.
Where will you be manufacturing the Hans Free Electric™ bikes?
To supply India and Southeast Asia, we’re starting with three manufacturing facilities: Two in India and one in Singapore. Eventually, we could set up production lines anywhere in the world where there are sufficient infrastructure and the right distribution networks. The Hans Free Electric™ bikes and Power Packs produced for the US market will be manufactured in Farmington Hills, Michigan for the foreseeable future.
What were the details of the Hans Free Electric™ pilot study in India?
The first shipment of Hans Free Electric™ bikes left Farmington Hills, Michigan for our India pilot study in early March 2016. In mid-March 2016 the bikes were distributed at no charge to energy-poor households, schools, and small businesses in villages outside of Lucknow, Amethi, and Raebareli. Those recipients gauged how well Hans Free Electric™ would work in the real world. We partnered with a local distributor and non-profit group to help with assembly and to train others on how to assemble and troubleshoot the bike. We also conducted pre/post surveys with recipients to learn their perspectives on the benefits of the bike, as well as to get their feedback on how we might improve it. We finished up the Hans Free Electric™ pilot study in fall 2016. Based on feedback from the participants, we made some significant design changes to the bike itself, as well as to the battery, which is now a portable Hans Free Electric™ Power Pack.
What changes were made to Hans Free Electric™ based on the pilot study?
Based on feedback in the field, we learned a couple of important lessons. First, we discovered that the people pedaling the bike would be primarily women and children. Thus, the bike did not have enough seat adjustment to accommodate the average height and stature of those who would be using it. We also found that the bike was a bit too large to fit in some of the houses, so we shortened the entire unit. Finally, we realized we had made the “sweet spot” in terms of output a little higher than the users would be comfortable pedaling. Based on those pieces of feedback, we made adjustments to the seat so that it could slide closer to the pedals; we put a full wrap around chain guard (so women’s saris wouldn’t get tangled in the chain); and most significantly, we created an entirely new “consumer” version of the bike with just one flywheel instead of two, as well as with different gearing and different alternator curves designed towards the lower outputs of the end user. This consumer version is easier to pedal, will be less expensive, uses a smaller battery, and generates slightly less electricity than the two-flywheel model, which we’re now calling the “commercial” version.
Another important lesson related to the battery. We recognized that to be really beneficial, the battery needed to easily disconnect from the bike and be portable. That way it could be used anywhere in or outside the home. In the process of creating this portable battery or “power pack” as we call it, we built in a number of other features, including LED lights, a USB port, a standard “cigarette style” outlet, a plug for charging it in a wall socket, a plug to charge it with the bike, as well as a built-in solar panel. Because the Hans Free Electric™ Power Pack can be used with or without the bike, it will be sold separately as well as in conjunction with the bike. At this point, we’ve finalized the designs for the bikes and the power pack, and are now working on tooling at the production plants in the US and India.
Why did you manufacture the bikes for the India pilot in the US? Wouldn’t it have been better to make them in India?
We produced the 25 Hans Free Electric™ bikes for the India pilot at Stage 2 in Farmington Hills, Michigan, because that was the most efficient thing to do. The bike was developed in Farmington Hills, and so all of the necessary tooling was already in place. We also did this in order to build and test an optimal production line that could be replicated easily in other parts of the world. We’re now in the process of creating identical production lines at manufacturing facilities in India.
If I have the means, can I purchase a Hans Free Electric™ bike for a poorer country? How much would that be and how do I know my money is being spent on a bike?
This is a common request and, honestly, we haven’t yet decided whether we will offer the option to donate toward the purchase of a bike. It was never our intention to seek contributions, so we’d need to set something up with one of our non-profit partners if that’s a route we choose to go.
How can I be involved with manufacturing and distribution?
We’re still in the process of creating production and distribution plans for the different regions in which we’ll be working, and we’ll announce any opportunities to be involved once those are in place.
Is the Hans Free Electric™ bike patented?
Is there a way for you to give me the instructions to build the Hans Free Electric™bike myself so I don’t have to buy it?
While Hans Free Electric™ is made mostly from standard bicycle parts, it also contains quite a few custom-made features that require precise tooling. Because of our strict standards for product quality, it is important that we oversee all manufacturing processes so that sub-standard products do not enter the market. For that reason, the production specifications will not be released at this time. Thank you for understanding.
Would you be willing to share the design specifications of the bike if someone else wanted to help scale the solution around the world?
We would be willing to share the plans, as long as we could ensure that the bike would be manufactured to our standards. That would involve a pretty significant vetting process, as well as in-person training with our engineers in Farmington Hills, Michigan to learn how to set up the production lines.
How can the bikes be repaired if something goes wrong?
We’re making the Hans Free Electric™ bikes so that the moving parts, like chains and guards, are regular bicycle parts that can be repaired anywhere by a bicycle mechanic. There are only two pieces that are more difficult to fix, should something go wrong: the Power Pack itself, which would need to be replaced, and the alternator, which would take an electrician. But the alternator is also something that is not easily broken.
I’d like to set up a gym with Hans Free Electric™ bikes. What do you think?
We think it’s an interesting idea. Setting up a gym with Hans Free Electric™ is certainly feasible, but there may need to be some adjustments if you’re wanting to power more heavy duty appliances or electronics. This is something we’re currently looking into.
What is the status of Limitless Energy?
We are still in the early research stages of the graphene project. We have a lot of resources devoted to it, and we continue to work on it, but it will still be some time before we’ll be able to prove that the idea works in the real world. We’ll be sure to make an announcement as soon as there is a newsworthy development.
Could tapping energy from the earth’s core have negative consequences to the planet?
Not at all. The entire earth is a ball of molten rock with a small crust on top. We’re not even scratching the surface. In fact, our work with graphene is simply a more efficient way to tap geothermal energy. The only difference is that we’re working on a solid-state heat transfer as opposed to using steam or liquid heat transfers, which operate with only 7-10% efficiency. With graphene’s properties, the heat transfer will be close to 100% efficient. Even in 100 million years, there would be no negative effect on the earth, no matter how much heat we harness.
What is the status of Renew ECP?
Renew ECP began shipping in November 2015 and was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for increased blood flow for both heart patients and healthy individuals. It is intended for use under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Visit our US website or Asia website for information about distribution in your region.
Will insurance cover this?
For patients with certain conditions, ECP therapy is covered by most insurance plans, as well as by Medicare and Medicaid.
What types of doctors are allowed to write prescriptions for the treatment?
While ECP therapy is typically prescribed by cardiologists or cardiac surgeons, any medical professional with prescriptive authority may be able to prescribe it, depending on State law.
What other disease states are you working on?
We are working on diabetes, lung function, neuropathy, and several others.