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Shining a light on solar panel triple threat
Filipino student's invention could revolutionize renewable power
(A native of England, Matthew Diebel is a veteran journalist who has worked at NBC News, Time, USA Today and News Corp., among other organizations. Having spent his childhood next to one of the world's fastest bodies of water, he is particularly interested in tidal energy.)
Conventional solar panels have several issues. First, of course, the sun doesn’t always shine. Second, they are highly polluting to make. And then they are resource-intensive to build, something that has even led to political tensions between the U.S. and China over labor conditions involved in the latter’s production of silicon, a vital ingredient.
So, it was very illuminating to hear about the invention by a young Filipino engineering student, Carvey Ehren Maigue, of a power-producing panel that seemingly solves all three issues.
On the sustainability front, the panels are mostly made from luminescent particles derived from fruit and vegetable waste. And as for lack of sun, there is no need for direct rays because Maigue’s invention, which he developed at Mapua University in Manila, rely on ultraviolet light, which penetrates clouds (and is part of the reason you can still get sunburn when it’s overcast). And, unlike conventional panels, Maigue’s prototypes, which he has named AuREUS, are flexible, meaning they can be stretched, for example, over cars and the curves of buildings.
Maigue’s first sample was a three-by-two-foot panel installed in a window of his apartment that proved capable of generating enough electricity to charge two phones in a day. And in addition to panels, he envisions the material being used in clothing. “I want to create threads and fabric so that even your clothes would be able to harvest ultraviolet light and convert it into electricity,” he told the James Dyson Foundation, which gave him a sustainability award for his invention.
No word yet on whether Maigue’s invention has attracted investor interest, but it would appear to be worth an email.