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Solar panels are made from plant waste

EcoNote | March 28, 2022 | By:

Photo: James Dyson Foundation.

An engineering student at Mapúa University in Manilla, Philippines, has found an innovative way to make a solar panel that functions even in cloudy weather. The product called “AuReus,” made by Carvey Ehren Maigue, harvests the unseen ultraviolet (UV) light that comes through dense cloud coverage. According to Maigue, preliminary testing shows that the AuReus solar panel can produce energy nearly 50 percent of the time compared to the 15–22 percent of standard solar panels. 

Besides producing energy without direct sunlight, the solar panels have additional sustainable qualities, as they are created from recycled plant waste. Maigue has extracted luminescent particles from fruits and vegetables—the particles that absorb the ultraviolet rays from the sun and turn them into visible light—using these absorbent particles to create a new type of solar film able to turn the ultraviolet rays into visible light that generates electricity.

The new solar panels can be applied to windows or facades as a fluorescent covering, possibly capable of transforming any building into a performative generator or vertical solar farm, capturing UV rays that bounce off surrounding hard surfaces.  

The plant waste Maigue used to create the panels is sourced from local farmers affected by climate change-induced weather disruptions, providing a means for rotting crops to be sold and repurposed into solar power.

Maigue has been named the James Dyson Awards first-ever global sustainability winner for his solar panel system.


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