The city where the lighting is alive

The French startup Glowee wants to reimagine public lighting by introducing the bacterial bioluminescence inside the street lamps of the cities.

Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by some living organisms such as fireflies, fungi and fish but also more than 80% of marine organisms.

Founded in 2014, Glowee has developed a liquid raw material – in theory infinitely renewable – composed of bioluminescent microorganisms. The manufacturing process consumes less water than manufacturing LED lights and releases less CO2, while the liquid is also biodegradable. The lights also use less electricity to run than LEDs, according to the company, although Glowee bulbs produce fewer lumens of light than most modern LED bulbs.

Glowee lights are currently visible in the French town of Rambouillet and are only available in standard event tubes / streetlights but the company plans to produce different types of street furniture soon, such as outdoor benches with integrated lighting.

In 2019, the city hall of Rambouillet, near Paris, signed a partnership with Glowee and invested € 100,000 to transform the city into “A large-scale bioluminescence laboratory.”

Guillaume Douet, head of public spaces at Rambouillet, believes that if the experiment is successful, it could lead to a transformation across the country. “This is a city of tomorrow”, asserted Douet. “If the prototype really works, we can take it to large-scale distribution and replace existing lighting systems.”

The light tubes made by Glowee contain billions of microorganisms from a marine bacterium collected off the coast of France called vibrio fischeri, which glows a soft blue. A small mixture of basic nutrients is added to the tubes the size of a soccer ball, which emit about 15 lumens of light, and a small mechanism draws oxygen into the reservoir of which the enzyme into the cells of the bacteria, called “luciferasi”, it needs to create light. To turn off the light, you simply stop circulating oxygen.

Bioluminescent lighting is not new. Around 350 BC, the Greek philosopher Aristotle described bioluminescence in fireflies as a type of “cold” light. Yet Glowee is the first company in the world to reach this level of experimentation and the company claims, as stated on the BBC website, that it is in talks with 40 cities in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Portugal. ERDF, a largely state-owned company that operates the French electricity grid, is among Glowee’s backers, the European Commission has provided € 1.7 million in funding, and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) has provided technical support funding.

Below is a video presentation:


Source: Il Blog di Beppe Grillo by beppegrillo.it.

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