Introducing AuReus, A Globally Awarded Filipino Student's Invention That Harnesses Electricity From Organic Waste
Electrical engineering major Carvey Ehren Maigue dreams of making power inaccessibility a thing of the past for every Filipino
It starts with an observant, inquisitive mind.
Carvey Ehren Maigue, a student from Mapua University, one day noticed that his tinted glasses darkened despite it being a rainy, overcast day. As an electrical engineering major, he knew that this was because the tech in his glasses wasn't designed to simply react to light, but to ultraviolet rays, too.
Sooner than later, the 27-year-old found himself reflecting on the huge opportunity loss this implied; existing renewable energy technology in the Philippines—and in most of the world—isn't designed to capture and convert ultraviolet rays that come from other sources aside from sunlight. He imagined how many businesses, classrooms, health centers, homes, and entire barangay plazas could be lit if there was only some way to harness ultraviolet rays and turn that power into electricity.
"Sayang. Hindi natin nakukuha 'yung enerhiyang ito gamit 'yung mga kumbensyonal na solar panel," he begins.
It wouldn't take too long before Carvey's ruminations would push him to action, and so, work began. He dedicated much of his time and knowledge to filling the gap between raw power and usable electricity, his efforts culminating in an invention he named AuReus.
It's an understatement to say that he succeeded; with full confidence in himself, what he created, and the intention behind the invention, Carvey joined the prestigious 2020 James Dyson Awards—and emerged the winner.
The international design competition that recognizes the most ingenious emerging engineers and inventors there are chose Carvey as the very first recipient of its Sustainability award.
The Sustainability category was launched just this year, and little did Carvey know that the award was patiently waiting to to be claimed by him. Interestingly, he previously joined the James Dyson Awards in 2018, but didn't make it to the national level. Perseverance, Carvey says, played a big role in him making it to the top this time around.
Come his second try, Carvey was more than ready with an invention built to impress and do good at the same time.
AuReus is essentially a "material, or a technology, that allows other devices to harvest ultraviolet light and convert it into electricity. AuREUS is based on a plastic material, so it can be formed into different shapes," Carvey explains in his interview with Dyson.
Its best feature has to be the fact that it doesn't only gather ultraviolet light from sunlight; its main energy source is actually organic waste, majority of which are crops damaged or spoiled by severe weather conditions brought about by climate change.
Carvey knows that the effects of climate change are inevitable, more so for the Philippines that's battered by typhoons, droughts, floods, and all sorts of natural disasters year after year. Climate change is one phenomenon that science will never be able to fully control or reverse, but what it can do—and what men of science like him can do—is to figure out new ways to roll with the punches.
In Carvey's case, it was to discover that fruits and veggies have what's called organic luminescent compounds, and that these compounds convert ultraviolet rays into visible light. Enter AuReus, the material that harvests these plant-sourced ultraviolet rays and and coverts them to electricity.
Put two and two together and what you have is an invaluable opportunity to turn the agricultural tragedies of storm-afflicted areas into renewable, clean, and accessible stores of electricity that are ready for use by Filipinos that need them most.
Carvey likens his invention's potential to what data processing tech (a.k.a. computers) was like then, and now; what was once technology used only for specialized purposes by exclusive groups of people are now in our pockets, available to anyone and everyone. Carvey envisions that one day, electricity from ultraviolet rays can be as ubiquitous, and as helpful to society, as this.
Carvey bested almost 2,000 other competitors for the James Dyson Award for Sustainability. Aside from the title of awardee, he's also received £30,000 to fund his future research and scientific experiments.
Before he goes on refining AuReus and developing more sustainable technology, his goal is to first graduate and officially earn his degree. Carvey, being in college for a decade, revealing that financial struggles and life as a working student have often interrupted his studies.
He says he doesn't mind the delays, though. Working with different students with different ideas for as long as he has has been nothing but enriching.
After graduation, Carvey has much to look forward to. Businesses have approached the young inventor for possible partnerships, and for Carvey, Filipinos, and the country itself, that only signals even more good news ahead.