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Back in 2018, Carvey Maigue pitched his idea at the James Dyson Award—a window that utilizes ultraviolet light from the sun and converts it to energy. Unable to produce the glass material for the said technology, he failed to advance in the international tilt’s national stage.

Instead of dropping the project, however, the engineering student from MAPUA University further developed his product.

This 2020, not only was he successful in producing the material needed, he also became the first ever winner of the competition’s Sustainability Award, handpicked by the founder, James Dyson himself.

Maigue’s work, called AuREUS System Technology, bested 1,800 other entries from fellow young inventors and design engineers from 27 countries, all of which aimed to respond to the competition’s challenge—design something that solves a problem.

“I wanted to help people have access to clean, renewable energy here in the Philippines. I focused on solar energy because it’s a resource that’s all around us,” Maigue said. “Conventional solar panels can’t absorb ultraviolet light and that’s what my invention provides a solution to.”

For two years, the 27-year-old inventor, son of a single mother, and self-supporting student juggled school and prototyping gigs, all while exploring how–get this–rotting fruits and vegetables can make AuREUS work.

“Organic luminescent compounds are derived from fruits and vegetables,” he explained. “These compounds turn high energy ultraviolet waves into visible light. Solar panels and solar films then convert this light into electricity.”

When used instead of typical glass walls and windows, whole buildings can become vertical solar energy farms using this system. The possibilities seem endless, too. AuREUS, after all, “can be formed into different shapes.”

“I want to create threads and fabric so that even your clothes would be able to harvest ultraviolet light and convert it into electricity. We are also looking to create curved plates, for use on electric cars, aeroplanes, and even boats,” he said. “This is the change I can make for the future.”

But while he is “very, very happy and excited that I have this chance,” which included a prize money of 30,000 pounds or P1.9 million, Maigue said he remains driven to improve Aureus.

“I want to work on the ways I can bring the product to the market immediately but also much of it will be dedicated to more research and development,” he said. “AuREUS has the chance to bring solar energy capture closer to people. In the same way computers were only used by the government or the military, and now the same technology is in our smartphones, I want solar energy harvesting to be more accessible.”

Maigue, who is already in his 10th year in college because he had to pause from time to time due to financial difficulties, credited his win to his persistence. Instead of feeling discouraged by his unsuccessful attempt the first time around, he said he thought of the experience as “an acid test for my idea.”

“Was the problem I was trying to solve something that other people, globally, also thought was important or not?” he asked.

It is and though it took years, Maigue, in the end, provided a winning solution.

Photos from the James Dyson website; Featured image by Ariana Maralit

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