AuREUS: Aurora Renewable Energy & UV Sequestration
Created by Carvey Ehren Maigue, Mapua University, the AuREUS system is a real evolution for walls and windows, and uses technology synthesized from upcycled crop waste to absorb stray UV light from sunlight and convert it to clean renewable electricity. It champions the issues of UV sequestration, better access to solar energy for climate change mitigation and supporting the local agriculture industry hit by calamities – by upcycling crops that would otherwise be considered wastes thus, mitigating farmer loss.
Excess UV exposure in urban areas are being induced by glass buildings. The solution is inspired by how Auroras are made: high energy (gamma, UV) are degraded to low energy state (visible light) by luminescent particles in the atmosphere. The system is based on this concept and used similar functioning particles. Moreover, solar farms are built horizontally and never vertically, until now. Since AuREUS captures UV, it can produce electricity even when not facing the sun. Buildings clad on all sides with AuREUS become vertical solar farms.
The system tackle another point: crops easily spoil and cause losses to farmers, with this tech, wastes can now be upcycled.
Both AuREUS devices (Borealis Solar Window and Astralis Solar Wall) uses the same technology: high energy particles are absorbed by luminescent particles that re-emit them as visible light. Similar type of luminescent particles (derivable from certain fruits and vegetables) were suspended in a resin substrate which is used as the core technology on both devices. When hit by UV light, the particles absorb and re-emit visible light along the edges due to internal reflectance. PV cells (Photovoltaic) are placed along the edges to capture the visible light emitted. The captured visible light are then converted to DC electricity. Regulating circuits will process the voltage output to allow battery charging, storage, or direct utilization of electricity.
Conventional PV cells lack the capability to capture high energy UV light. Creating better materials with such capability has been the journey for 2017 but led to failure… By chance, in a dark pub inspiration was drawn from glowing neon plates when exposed to blacklight. 2019 ended with a full academic thesis and several prototypes proving that the concept is feasible. 2020, the possibility of using local fruits and vegetable dyes as key particles for enabling the technology has been focused on. Currently 78 types of local crops has been tested and 9 showed high potential.
AuREUS can function even when not directly facing the sun, it can rely on UV scattering through clouds and by UV light bouncing along walls, pavements, other buildings. This will enable the construction of a Vertical Solar Farm even with a small lot area. This is highly applicable for skyscrapers in urban settings allowing access to clean renewable electricity. Glass cladding use special films that reflect UV away from the building. This causes induced UV exposure to people outside. AuREUS absorbs UV light instead, protecting people both indoors and outdoors. Moreover, the new system upcycles fruit and vegetable scraps giving life to materials considered as trash.
Engineering student Carvey Ehren Maigue has been named the James Dyson Awards first-ever global sustainability winner for his AuReus system.