As the push for lowering carbon emission grows, the focus has been on renewable energy. One potential aspect is tapping on the Sun's energy. For centuries, scientists have devised plans to convert Sun's energy into electricity. While solar power is still not a substitute for conventional energy generation with its limitations, a Filipino student has invented a system that can generate electricity from windows.
Called the AuREUS, it can covert Sun's ultra-violet light into electricity. The solar windows, invented by 27-year-old engineering student Carvey Ehren Maigue from the Mapua University in Manila, the system is made of rotting fruits and vegetables, making it biodegradable. For his invention, Maigue was awarded the first James Dyson award for sustainability.
AuREUS is a thin material that can be attached to window glasses and it will be able to generate electricity even if the sky is cloudy. "Aureus is impressive in the way it makes sustainable use of waste crops but I'm particularly impressed by Carvey's resolve and determination," James Dyson, the founder of the Dyson technology company, said.
How Does AuREUS Work?
Interestingly, Maigue was inspired by drinking glass and lenses on his sunglasses. He saw that even on cloudy days, the sunglasses darkened while the drinking glass was glowing. "I understood that even when it is cloudy and rainy, ultraviolet light still reaches us. Conventional solar panels can't absorb ultraviolet light and that is what my invention provides a solution for," Maigue told the National News.
To make the sheet that can absorb UV light, Maigue turned to fruits and vegetables. After experimenting with around 80 crops, he found nine of them with long-term potential. As UV light interacts with the luminescent particles of the sheet, it glows and the light gets converted into electricity.
"One of the most important components of my invention is sourced from waste produce. Organic luminescent compounds are derived from fruit and vegetables. These compounds turn high energy ultraviolet waves into visible light. I use solar panels and solar films to convert this light into electricity," Maigue explained.
According to early tests, AuREUS can potentially produce electricity 48 percent of the time. That is a huge jump from 10-25 percent in photovoltaic cells that are found in solar panels. "It differs from typical solar panels due to its ability to also capture ultraviolet light even if it is not facing the Sun. Even if it is cloudy, even if it is raining, it can still capture and generate electricity. I focused on solar energy because it is a resource that is all around us," the electrical engineering student said.
Maigue's early model was based on a chemical compound and could only be applied to windows. Changing it made all the difference. Now the future looks bright. Since AuREUS can be made from waste products, Maigue can tie up with waste management companies to make the window panels, not to mention that it will also reduce pollution. With the window sheet glowing due to absorbing UV light, it can potentially reduce energy consumption while producing electricity.
Furthermore, Maigue is looking to apply the material to fabric, boats, clothes, cars and even entire buildings. He has already received interest from waste management and agricultural companies. The product, however, is not yet patented and will be filed by the end of the year. "Carvey's invention demonstrates a convincing way to create clean energy on existing structures, like windows, within cities," Dyson said.