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Brief Published: 27 Nov 2020

Material Derived from Waste Veg Generates Renewable Energy


A student from Mapúa University in the Philippines has developed a novel material from waste fruit and vegetable crops that effectively converts UV light into renewable energy. The innovation has won an International James Dyson Award for sustainability. 

Aureus, by Carvey Ehren Maigue, is a plastic-like substrate that can be formed into different shapes and attached to a pre-existing structure or surface, and is translucent and durable in situ. The technology works by harvesting ultraviolet (UV) light and converting it into visible light to generate electricity – a process that’s more effective than traditional solar panels, which primarily use direct, visible light from the sun. Current testing suggests that Aureus can produce electricity 48% of the time, compared to 10-25% for conventional photovoltaic panels.

Regardless of the weather, the material still functions fully. When the particles within the substrate ‘rest’, they expel excess energy that is emitted as visible light, which can then be transformed into electricity. The particles also ‘glow’ once they’ve absorbed UV light, continuing the loop.

The Philippines is often disrupted by natural disasters, such as typhoons, and farmers can lose much of their produce as a result. Therefore, Maigue looked to local, abundant resources for his UV-absorbent particles, which are derived from eight types of waste crops.

Aureus is a promising solution for generating more accessible clean energy that upcycles waste in the process. While it could currently be used on windows and other surfaces, the designer is exploring ways to develop the tech further – think fabrics and being embedded in automotive. Winning Dyson’s global award scheme will provide financial support to help with commercialising the invention.

See our A/W 22/23 Colour & Materials Direction Regenerate for more creative ingenuity using natural and local resources.