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While conventional solar cells use visible light to generate electricity, engineering student Carvey Ehren Maigue has designed flexible AuREUS panels that capture ultraviolet rays. Using bioluminescent particles, those rays are turned into visible light, which can then be transformed into renewable energy. The benefit of capturing UV rays instead of just visible light is that energy is generated even on rainy or overcast days, and that all sides of a building can be covered in solar film or panels, turning entire buildings into vertical solar farms.
What makes his innovation even more remarkable, is that the bioluminescent compounds are derived from crop waste. A student at Manila's Mapúa University, Maigue has tested 78 local fruits and vegetables, and 9 of them have demonstrated high potential for use in his panels. Due to weather disruption caused by climate change, crop failure is increasingly common in the Philippines. If unsellable produce is purchased to extract luminescent compounds, instead of being left to rot in fields, farmers can at least recuperate some of their lost income.
Maigue was recently awarded the first James Dyson Sustainability Award, and will be using his GBP 30,000 prize to further develop AuREUS.
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