The bioluminescence of fireflies and "Red Tide" are arguably two of nature's most beautiful phenomena, leaving us spellbound in a open field or on the shore with our mouths agape. But have you ever considered lighting your home with this kind of light?
Dutch electronics company Phillips has. In fact, they've created Bio-light, a greener lighting system that's part of their Microbial Home (MH) system. It isn't powered by electricity or sunlight, but by glowing bioluminescent bacteria that thrive on waste generated in the average home.
The bioluminescent bacteria is housed in hand-blown glass cells, clustered together to form a lamp that could easily be displayed in a modern art museum. Each cell is connected to the lamp's reservoir base by thin silicon tubes that pipe methane gas from composted bathroom solids and vegetable scraps via a kitchen dodad that digests bio-waste.
As long as proper nutrients are supplied, the bio-light's living bacteria can be powered indefinitely. Although the light isn't bright enough to fully replace conventional lighting, it does make people conscious of household forms of wasted energy that could be tapped.
Clive van Heerden, Senior Director of Design-led Innovation at Philips Design, says drastic changes are required to reduce our environmental impact and designers must lead the way.
“Designers have an obligation to understand the urgency of the situation, and translate humanity’s needs into solutions," he said, according to Phillips Design's website. "Energy-saving light bulbs will only take us so far. We need to push ourselves to rethink domestic appliances entirely, to rethink how homes consume energy, and how entire communities can pool resources.”
Phillips envisions their bio-light technology being used on warning strips on curbs and steps, signs in theaters or clubs, and even night-time road markings.