Solar Panels from Food Waste

Carvey Ehren Maigue, an engineering student at Mapúa University in Manila, Philippines, won the first James Dyson Sustainability award for his work in developing solar panels that can extract UV light using fruit and vegetable food scraps. The AuREUS system is an evolution for walls/windows, and uses technology synthesized from upcycled crop waste to absorb stray UV light from sunlight and convert it to clean renewable electricity.

Standard photovoltaic (PV) panels absorb direct sunlight rather than the ultraviolet (UV) light that is still emitted on cloudy days. Carvey’s invention, the AuREUS solar panels, can capture this UV light.  As such, AuREUS panels can generate electricity from up to 50% of the light (sunlight and UV light) that hits them while standard PV solar panels can only generate electricity from 15-22% of the light (sunlight) hitting them.

This technology has gotten a lot of visibility and shows great promise, but research is still ongoing. Maigue is looking at getting the right luminescent particles that allow sourcing of dyes at 100% from fruits and vegetables and not chemicals. It is at 80% at the moment.


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