Solar panels made with waste crops generate energy even without sunlight
Carvey Ehren Maigue, student electrical engineering at Mapua University in the Philippines, designed a new type of translucent solar panel that combines organic luminescent particles and solar film to create solar panels that even generate energy when the sun doesn’t shine.
In recent years, solar panels have undergone a transformation, becoming cheaper and more efficient. However, one major drawback is that these panels do not generate energy when the weather is cloudy.
Called AuREUS, which stands for Aurora Renewable Energy and UV Sequestration, Maigue’s invention was inspired by the Northern and Southern lights, in which high energy particles are absorbed by luminescent particles that emit them as visible light. Similar luminescent particles can be derived from certain fruits and vegetables. When suspended in a resin substrate, the particles absorb UV light and re-emit visible light along the edges due to internal reflectance. Photovoltaic (PV) cells are placed along the edges of the device to capture the visible light, which is then turned into electricity. This also means the panels work without direct sunlight, as they also generate energy from UV light scattering through clouds.
The luminescent particles are derived from fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be discarded, combating food waste in the process. Currently, 80% of the dyes are derived form fruits and vegetables, rather than chemical ones. The panels can be made in 5 colours, red, orange, yellow, green, and blue, though there hasn’t been a stable blue dye been made yet.
The design won the James Dyson Sustainability award this year.