James Dyson Sustainability Award

Incredible inventions in the solar sector: Solar panels made from rotten fruit and vegetables

Farmers in the Philippines often loose a large part of their crops due to natural disasters and extreme weather conditions. The Filipino engineer Carvey Ehren Maigue of Mapua University in Manila found a way to use this agricultural waste in a creative and innovative way. 

He invented AuREUS which is a material made from particles of fruits and vegetables that are suspended in a resin substrate. The substrate is translucent, enduring and can be poured into different shapes. It is then molded into cladding and attached to walls or between two double glazed windowpanes. Carvey Ehren Maigue is also already researching whether it is possible to apply the material to other surfaces besides windows and walls, such as cars or boats for example.

How does it work?

When the material is hit by UV light, it absorbs it and re-emits visible light which is then captured and converted into electricity. This is done using a string of conventional PV cells that are normally built into solar modules. It does not even need direct sunshine to work because UV rays can pass through clouds. The best part? It’s made using upcycled crop waste as a UV-absorbing compound for the substrate meaning there are barely any other materials needed. Carvey Ehren Maigue tested about 80 types of local crops and found nine that can potentially be used for this method long-term. 

Why are inventions like this so important?

Unfortunately, over 80% of the global energy production is still accounted for by environmentally harmful sources of energy such as fossil fuels. However, recent estimations indicate that the earth’s supply of gas and oil will be exhausted by 2060 at the rate they are burnt currently. Investing into renewable energy sources must therefore be our priority. Carvey Ehren Maigue not only found a way to mitigate local farmers agricultural losses but also climate change.


James Dyson Award for Sustainability

He deservedly won the first-ever James Dyson Award for Sustainability for his invention of AuREUS System Technology. His invention proves that large quantities of solar energy can be generated on existing structures in cities such as windows and constructions of large vertical solar farms will be possible in the future, even in small spaces.

As new and innovative technologies are being developed, more and more people switch to solar for clean energy. This invention gives us a whole new perspective on what is possible in the solar sector and how many exciting inventions we are yet to see in the future.

And of course we're curious to see who will win the award this year!

Sources: dezeen.com, jamesdysonaward.org, dyson.co.uk
The photos are courtesy of The James Dyson Foundation.

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