Glowing Bacteria Could Power “Bio-Light”
This bizarre-looking concoction of glass, liquid and tubes could one day bring a whole new meaning to the idea of natural lighting.
The new “bio-light” concept designed by Dutch electronics company Philips creates light in the same way that bioluminescent living organisms like fireflies and glow worms do.
The phenomenon of bioluminescence is created by a chemical reaction where an enzyme called luciferase interacts with a light-emitting molecule called luciferin.
In the bio-light a collection of hand-blown jars — held in place by a steel frame — contain a measure of bioluminescent bacteria which glow green when fed methane gas — in this case through individual silicon tubes routed through a household waste digester.
Harnessing these biological techniques could help redefine how we consume energy in the home, says Philips.
"Designers have an obligation to explore solutions which are by nature less energy-consuming and non-polluting," says Clive van Heerden, senior director of design-led innovation at Philips Design. "We need to push ourselves to rethink domestic appliances entirely, how homes consume energy and how entire communities can pool their resources."
Jim Haseloff, a plant biologist from the UK’s University of Cambridge says the bio-light is a very provocative idea.
"It’s appealing because it brings two things together which you wouldn’t normally associate," Haseloff said. "I don’t think you want to imagine that everyone’s going to start putting bacterial cultures into their own home for lighting but as a way of exploring the idea it’s quite interesting."
It part of a wider swing to sustainable technologies, Haseloff says, but he doesn’t see bioluminescent lights competing with LED and other low-energy lights in the future.