A 27-year-old Filipino college student bested 1,800 entries to win the James Dyson Sustainability Award this year for inventing a material made from waste crops that converts UV light into renewable energy.
Carvey Ehren Maigue did not let his previous failure in the contest deter him from having a second go.
“This is my second time applying and, through persistence, I managed to win,” Maigue said in an interview posted by Dyson.
Maigue’s winning entry was the AuREUS System Technology, a plastic-based material made from rotting fruit and vegetables that harvests ultraviolet light.
Maigue said that AuREUS is a proof of concept that investing in renewable energy does not only benefit the future generation, but the present one as well.
“We need to utilise our resources more and create systems that don't deplete our current resources,” said Maigue. “With AuREUS, we upcycle the crops of the farmers that were hit by natural disasters, such as typhoons, which also happen to be an effect of climate change. By doing this, we can be both future-looking, and solve the problems that we are currently experiencing now.”
Maigue is in his tenth year studying at Mapua University as he said that schooling took some time due to lack of money.
“To be able to fund my schooling, I take prototyping projects and fabrication projects from different students, as well as helping people who need support with their projects and their theses,” said Maigue. “But that’s okay with me - by taking on different projects, from different students, in different schools, I was able to expand my horizon of what I know. So there are a lot of learnings that I got, especially in terms of design, and how it would affect the user, and on the business side of things.”
Maigue said he is now working on how to bring his technology to the market as well as develop other materials — such as fabric — to harvest UV light.
Maigue will receive a cash prize of £30,000 or about P1.9 million to further develop his invention. But beyond the cash prize which will also help him finish his studies, Maigue said the award also gives him the impetus to push further.
“It's a very big confidence boost for me. I think the Award will also enable me to reach more people and hear their feedback on how we can further develop and improve this technology,” said Maigue.