Filipino Student Designs Solar Windows That Converts Food Waste Into Renewable Energy

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The first-ever sustainability winner of The James Dyson Award was awarded to Carvey Maigue for inventing an innovative way to tackle food waste and using it to create renewable energy sources thus setting up a circular economy and mitigating climate change.

A student at Mapúa University in the Philippines, Carvey Maigue’s project titled AuREUS uses technology synthesized from upcycled crop waste to absorb stray UV light from sunlight and transform it into clean renewable energy.

According to the project summary, AuREUS is invented to make solar energy accessible to all which can then help in reducing the effects of climate change, provide support to the local agricultural sector hit by calamities by upcycling crops that would otherwise end up in wastes, as a result mitigating farmer loss and eliminating food waste and its high carbon emissions.

The James Dyson Award, an international design award that celebrates the next generation of design engineers, had around 1800 entries from over 27 countries with Maigue’s invention winning the Sustainability award.

Maigue’s inspiration for this project is the UV exposure in urban areas, aggravated by glass and solar farms that are built horizontally and never vertically, until now. Thanks to AuREUS’s ability to trap UV, it can produce electricity even when not facing the sun. The AuREUS wall and window systems are designed to cause the northern and southern lights with luminescent particles to absorb high energy particles, eventually re-emitting them as visible light.

Additionally, Maigue obtained similar particles from certain varieties of fruit and vegetables, setting them into a resin. These particles then re-emit the UV light to Photovoltaic (PV) solar cells converting that light into sustainable electricity.

Montreal Convention Center. Conversion to AuREUS tech will unlock additional 18kW power asset. Source: James Dyson Award’s website

AuREUS upcycles fruit and vegetable scraps and this system could be crucial in the conversion of entire buildings into vertical solar farms.

Back in 2019, Maigue completed a full academic thesis and several prototypes ultimately presenting the possibility of this kind of technology. Last year, he discovered the suitability of local fruits and vegetables, with 78 types of local crops already been tested along with 9 showing high potential.

In a press release seen by Green Queen, Tom Crawford, the Global Director of Sustainability at Dyson said: “It is fantastic that we can also recognize inventions that have been carefully designed to protect our planet’s future. All the entries hold future ideas, improvements, and processes to help improve life as we know it.”

Other projects in the Jame Dyson competition included the OFlow, a system that traps unfiltered microplastics before they reach river systems and several waste reduction projects like Carbyn, a compostable biocomposite and ReGlove, a sustainable single-use system that could potentially replace petroleum plastic and latex PPE, respectively.

Going forward, Maigue’s project will require additional funding that will enable the creation of a team and facility increasing the current capacity and also has plans to develop a similar framework in solar powered transport.

The Indonesian government is presently working on a scheme in an effort to install solar panels across thousands of rooftops that could cost over US$1 billion every year and will help generate more than 20,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector.

In Seoul, the capital of South Korea. another renewable energy revolution is brewing with the country’s commitment to ensure that every single public building and 1 million homes in the city will have solar panels by 2022.

According to a report by the Global Subsidies Initiative, just a 10% to 30% diversion of the annual fossil fuel subsidies towards renewables would pay for the entire world’s transition to clean energy.

To understand more about solar energy, here is a quick guide.


Lead image – Miniaturized Borealis Solar Window that can power a small DC motor, courtesy of James Dyson Award’s website.


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