The idea that solar panels don’t need sunlight may sound crazy, but it’s not completely impossible. Carvey Ehren Maigue, a student at Mapua University in the Philippines, recently developed a prototype.
As the cornerstone of a revolution to bring more clean energy to people, solar panels seem to be one of the best choices. However, these energy conductors have a fatal flaw. They need direct sunlight to produce energy. Solar cells could be used in a wider range of scenarios if they could eliminate the drawback of not relying on sunlight to produce energy directly.
But how do you make solar panels that don’t rely on sunlight? The idea is to have solar panels absorb the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which are not blocked by clouds. Maigue’s work is based on this idea.
To make the panels, Maigue uses glowing particles from fruit and vegetable waste. It is these particles that absorb the sun’s ultraviolet rays and convert them into visible light. By using such particles, he created a solar film that captures ultraviolet light. The membrane then converts light into visible light, which is used to produce energy.
It’s an ingenious idea that could also help cut more waste around the world. Also, because it doesn’t rely on direct sunlight, it can continue to generate power even when it’s cloudy outside. The current prototype is just a 3-by-2-foot panel mounted in Maigue’s apartment window. Still, it generates enough electricity to charge two mobile phones a day.
When scaled up, Maigue says he believes it could enable buildings to run entirely on their own electricity. What’s really exciting about this solar panel is its scalability. Maigue created thin film panels that are flexible. It is made of resin and can even be used on clothes.
Even the current prototype is quite practical, as it only requires the membrane to be attached to the window to collect electricity. That means users don’t need to put expensive solar panels on their roofs. It could even be installed in cars, creating new means of energy for electric vehicles.
And because it’s so flexible, this solar film leaves a lot of room for more innovators to come forward and find new applications.