Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bio-Light Design Uses Bacteria for Light

Both photos courtesy: ©Philips

Oh boy, how far we have come since we got light when the sun came up and lost it when the sun set. Edison reshaped the world with his electric light bulb. However, Edison is not the only one to tinker with light.

The folks at Philips have come up with some unusual and futuristic designs for their Microbial Home concept. From steampunk-ish kitchens to cocoon-like urban beehives, the designs are truly unique -- and that goes for the lighting too.

Here, Philips has shown off a concept for a light that runs on not grid electricity, not solar power, not even wind power. Nope, it runs on bacteria.

According to Philips, "The concept explores the use of bioluminescent bacteria, which are fed with methane and composted material (drawn from the methane digester in the Microbial Home system). Alternatively the cellular light array can be filled with fluorescent proteins that emit different frequencies of light."

It doesn't provide enough light to fill a room or read by, but it does provide the subtle glow just right for mood lighting. It also is a piece of furniture or art itself, with individual cells of hand-blown glass in a steel frame. But that means you need a home where something as bulky as this has room to be hung on a wall. Though, Philips notes this could be used beyond indoors, for things like night-time road markings, warning strips on stairs or curbs, exit signs, lights for sensors, and so on.

So, is it practical for the average home? Not really. But it is definitely interesting and we may just find a practical place for the technology yet. My bet is that shortly, Philips will find a way to make it smaller and brighter - suitable for every home.

"This represents a new genre of ‘living’ biological products. We have involved the microbial community in the home to provide the soft mood lighting typical of luminescence by using energy stored in our waste streams. Potentially biological products could be self-energizing, adaptive, responsive, self-repairing, act as biological sensors to environmental conditions, and change the way we communicate information."

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