Solar Panels Built from Waste Crops Create Energy without Direct Light

In another effort to produce clean energy, one engineering student from the Philippines designed solar panels that don’t need direct sunlight to produce energy. He created a revolutionary material with luminescent particles from veggie and fruit waste.

The 29-year-old Carvey Ehren Maigue won the James Dyson Foundation Sustainability Award back in 2020 for the solar panels that he created at Mapua University in his home country.

The particles absorb the ultraviolet rays of the sun and transform them into visible light. The panels then convert this light into energy. 

UV rays are still there on cloudy days so there’s major potential in scaling up this tech in urban areas, but also anywhere else where a conventional solar panel wouldn’t do, according to Maigue.

AuREAS-Inspired by Auroras, Using Waste from Crops to Produce Electricity

Named the AuREUS, inspired by auroras, this solar panel’s particles are put inside a resin surface that can be molded in various shapes.

When he talked about his invention after winning the award two years ago, Maigue noted that he wants to put out the product on the market and focus on further research.

His goal is to make threads and fabric so that even the clothes we wear can harvest UV light and transform it into electricity.

The solar panel prototype’s dimensions were three-by-two and installed in a window at Maigue’s apartment. It produced sufficient electricity to charge two phones daily.

His dream is to boost entire buildings with AuREUS and in a way, transform them into vertical solar farms. Even if skyscrapers don’t face the sun, the ones with this exterior can absorb UV that bounces off of walls, other buildings, and the pavement.

Maigue also added that he’s looking to make curved plates too that can be used for electric cars, boats, and airplanes.

His goal is to democratize the new product and bring solar energy closer to everyday people.

Upcycling Lost Crops Helps in Creating Clean Energy

The new tech has potent sustainability features from the start to the finish. Namely, they upcycle the crops of the farmers affected by natural disasters that are also a result of climate change. 

Of the 78 crops that were tested, nine showed high potential. They are crushed, juiced, and filtered to take out the luminescent particles that are later suspended in resin.

The material acquired is mouldable and can also be clamped to walls or put between two panels of double-glazed windows and begin producing renewable energy for buildings.

It achieves this by reflecting the light that’s converted to the panel’s edges and there, strings of PV cells wait and catch it and transform it into electricity. 

He says there are areas for improvement such as moving from using 80 percent of fruit and veggie waste to 100 percent, avoiding chemical sources. 

And, among the five colors being used (red, yellow, orange, blue, and green), he has yet to find a natural alternative for the blue one.