AuREUS: New material made from waste crop, which converts UV light into renewable energy, wins a James Dyson award

A new material, made from waste crop which converts UV light into renewable energy, is among the winners of the 2020 James Dyson Award.

The James Dyson Award’s first ever Sustainability Award winner is tackling the challenge of how to more effectively generate renewable energy from light and upcycling waste in the process.

With the aim of addressing shortcomings in solar energy production – such as poor environmental conditions – Carvey Ehren Maigue from Mapua University in Manila, the Philippines developed AuREUS.

AuREUS is a material that can be attached to a pre-existing structure or surface to harvest UV light and convert it into visible light to generate electricity in a way that traditional solar panels can’t.

Whether the sun is shining, or it is cloudy, Carvey Ehren Maigue’s material will still generate electricity as the particles in his material absorb UV light causing them to glow. As the particles ‘rest’ they remove excess energy and this ‘bleeds’ out of the material as visible light which can then be transformed into electricity.

To boost the material’s sustainability further, the inventor made it from a substrate extracted from waste crops. The Philippines is victim of severe weather disruption and farmers can lose much of their produce as a result. Rather than leave the crops to rot, Carvey Ehren Maigue sought to use them as a UV absorbent compound for his substrate.

After testing nearly 80 different types of local crops, Carvey found nine that show high potential for long-term use. The substrate, when applied to materials, is durable, translucent and can be moulded into different shapes. Carvey is already looking into how he can develop his material for use beyond windows and walls, such as fabrics and embedded into cars, boats and airplanes.

Carvey Ehren Maigue said: “We need to utilise our resources more and create systems that don’t deplete our current resources. While AuREUS aims to generate electricity from natural resources, I also want to show that, even if we want to become more sustainable, it’s not only the future generation that would benefit, but also us, the present generation.

“With AuREUS, we upcycle the crops of the farmers that were hit by natural disasters, such as typhoons, which also happen to be an effect of climate change. By doing this, we can be both future-looking, and solve the problems that we are currently experiencing now.”    

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

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