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Solar panel from food waste - an innovative approach to power generation

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

You might have heard about this on various social media posts or you will be new to the ideology. Anyway, the first question when you have read the topic will be Is it possible? or is it another WhatsApp forward message such as the ones our parents tell us about the remedies to cure Corona Virus such as standing in the sunlight, banging utensils, or chanting corona go, go corona. No, it's a modernized solution developed by a researcher who might have found the solution to our degradable waste to be utilized in an efficient way rather than dumping it in landfills.

The technology has bagged the James Dyson Award which focuses on encouraging the next generation of design engineers to take up the next levels of innovations that could transform the world and its technology. Today it has competitors from various university-level students stretching about 27 countries who have participated in this year's competition and was bagged by the 27-year-old Carvey Ehren Maigue who is a resident at Mapua University. In the year 2020 award category on the sustainable engineering aspects was introduced to promote the engineering side of solving the problems faced environmentally and how to overcome them with innovations.

Maigue has developed a panel or a sheet that absorbs the UV light from the sunlight, even on cloudy days, and transforms it into renewable energy. The solar panel is manufactured using biodegradable household waste such as fruit and vegetable waste and is code-named AuREUS. In addition, these panels can be attached to the windows of the building and also the walls. Moreover, they can have color coordination infused on them to add up to the appearance aspects of the building using this technology.

Source: The James Dyson Award

The usability of the panel on cloudy days and without direct sunlight by absorbing the UV lights will resolve the high dependency aspect of solar panels on direct sunlight or visible light and the time required for power generation. Additionally, as it uses household waste such as leftovers from fruits and veggies, this may add up to the reduction in biodegradable waste management and its further causes of mismanagement on them. Furthermore, the power generation effect on them also matters as these panels can generate more than half the amount of power generated by the regular solar panels in the same amount of time and source.

How is it made?

I already told you the raw materials used for the manufacturing are fruit and vegetable waste. Further agricultural waste, as well as unusable parts of crops can be used for the process. The process revolves around extracting the luminescent particles from the waste products as mentioned above. The materials are initially squeezed to extract the luminescent particles which are steeped, distilled, and then the extracted juice is filtered. Finally, these particles are laid on a resin and further molded into panels that can be used as screens on windows or as individual panels, or as walls of buildings.

An additional advantage.

The material for the manufacturing process that is the agricultural waste can be sourced from localized farmers who have been under-looked financially as they are not provided enough money for the products. An example would be the currently undergoing Farmers protest in India which has put forward the lower prices they have been provided by the government and how they have been taken for granted by the governing authorities and other citizens. Additionally, the vegetable and crop waste deposited on landfill generate high amounts of methane which is one of the heat-trapping gas when these materials decompose in the soil.

Furthermore, if the crops are damaged due to adverse climatic conditions and the waste generated can be used for the process too therefore, providing an income to the farmers to be sustainable. In addition, the panel produced will be compatible with the regular solar panels thus, providing you with an option to choose between them or use both in a parallel platform of power generation on a the same infrastructure.

Source: The James Dyson Award

What can we expect from this innovation in the future?

The innovator himself has plans to develop clothing fibers that have further innovative applications with this ideology. Another aspect will be to develop highly tensile hard material which can be used on automobiles. Furthermore, the implementation of these panels on building walls will bring in additional renewable energy for its facilities to operate with ease. Moreover, if the operation of manufacturing along with proper marketing and support by the governing authorities this innovation will revolutionize solar energy production in the world making us dependable more on sustainable energy.


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