Sunlight is going underground…

Recently, there have been talks of moving buildings underground to help combat climate change.

The idea is that being underground can help save energy, allow for nature to flourish and expand buildings in highly populated areas.

But to accomplish that, there would still need to be a way to light up these structures. We could spend a ton of money and energy using generators… or, we could try this green solution!

Lighting up a new idea

It’s funky-looking, but it gets the job done. Image source: Electronics Online

 

A team at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore has created a solar device that can directly transport energy from the sun into underground buildings. By directly funneling the energy to the underground buildings, this solution reduces both transport costs and emissions.

The device is a globe-shaped object that sits above-ground and is small enough to be placed on top of light poles. It consists of just four components: an acrylic ball, light sensors, a plastic optical fiber cable, and computer-assisted monitors.

How does it work?

The acrylic ball functions like a magnifying glass that brings the sunlight into a sharp focus. The focused light is then gathered at one end of the fiber cable. Once it’s stored on one end, it moves to the other end of the fiber to light up the building.

Another bright idea they had was to make the globe adjustable depending on the sun’s movement. The tiny motors in the device automatically shift to capture energy and send it down below.

If you’re thinking this is a pretty simple device… then you’re right. It can be made from items you can find in a store and is highly compact. You can even customize it by changing the size of the acrylic ball depending on how much light you want!

Changing how we light up the world

 

Now that more living spaces will extend underground, the need for an eco-friendly “underground lighting solution” has grown. Thankfully, this (currently nameless) device could be the answer.

“Our innovation [is] potentially very easy to fabricate at scale,” said Assistant Professor Seongwoo from the School of Electrical and Electronics Engineering.

“Due to space constraints in densely populated cities, we have intentionally designed the daylight harvesting system to be lightweight and compact. This would make it convenient for our device to be incorporated into existing infrastructure in the urban environment.”

Cities are known to be congested and polluted. That’s why researchers believe this is a right step in creating sustainable technology and architecture throughout cities.

In studies, researchers discovered that this compact solar device produced 230 lumens/Watt of light. When you consider the 90 lumens/Watt that a regular LED bulb usually emits, that’s quite a lot!

This “solar globe” could be functional in places throughout cities like parking garages, elevators, and even be used in industrial settings. Makes you think about the future, doesn’t it?!