AuREUS Repurposes Food Waste Into Solar Panels

Since sunlight is available for a limited period during the day, standard solar panels only generate power 15-20% of the time. This is a major hindrance in the widespread adoption of solar energy, which Carvey Ehren Maigue, from Mapua University, in Manila in the Philippines, is seeking to solve with his invention ‘AuREUS’ that simultaneously attacks another key issue facing humanity today — food waste.

AuREUS or Aurora Renewable Energy and UV Sequestration is a solar panel, derived from fruit and vegetable waste, that can generate power as much as 50% of the time and help prevent biodiversity depletion and food poverty. AuREUS uses technology synthesized from upcycled crop waste to absorb stray UV light from sunlight and convert it to electricity. The Aureus technology does not require a direct exposure to the sun to catch UV light, which allows for the creation of vertical solar farms in urban areas.

As an electrical engineering student, Maigue was the first global Sustainability Winner of the James Dyson Awards in 2020. According to him, his dream is to provide Filipinos with access to a clean and renewable energy. The system can be used for windows and walls of buildings, utilizing it to become a source of clean and renewable energy.

“We need to utilise our resources more and create systems that don’t deplete our current resources,” said Maigue. “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.”

The innovation is one of a new wave of applications that utilise food waste, like Bolt Threads’ Mylo leather, used worldwide as a plant-based alternative to animal skin leather and synthetic fibres.

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