Headquartered in Paris, Glowee is a biotechnology company popularly known for developing bioluminescent natural light sources. The company has created a microorganism-based substance that emits bioluminescence without producing any kind of greenhouse gas emissions. This material has a wide range of applications, and the light it produces can be used to illuminate buildings, storefronts, and streetlights. To understand the potential applications of bioluminescence in the coming years, the organization collaborates with various energy companies, local governments, and architects.
In 2013, Sandra Rey was in the middle of a project when she got inspiration from fish that glowed. This got her the idea to use bioluminescence instead of electric lights. She then began to research and study more about the concept of bioluminescence concept and created Glowee.
Over the next few years, she subsequently grew her company even more while pursuing her Master’s in social entrepreneurship. Following the success of Glowee, Rey marked her appearance in many prestigious lists, including MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 in 2016 and Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in 2017.
Introduce @sanrey_glowee Founder & CEO of @weloveglowee who revolutionary makes #biological_lighting systems using #bioluminescent_marine_bacteria to produce their own light. #biolightingsysten #externalenergyconsumption #marketingleaders #Biotechnology https://t.co/f7gOOe4mu7 pic.twitter.com/kDO2ximUjq
— Insights Success (@insightssuccess) July 6, 2019
As we know it now, Glowee is a biotechnology firm primarily known for developing natural light through bioluminescence. This eco-friendly light source is seen as a great approach to reducing the amount of electricity used for lighting and its negative effects on the environment. When compared to conventional lighting systems, this technology minimizes pollution by not utilizing exhaustible natural resources, such as metals used in LED bulbs. The company also claims that the light produces ten times less CO2 than of an equivalent LED system.
To create these lights, little glass boxes are filled with a gel-like material that includes bioluminescent bacteria. Glowee uses Aliivibrio fischeri, a microorganism with a unique ability to make marine species glow with blue-green light. The gel inside the glass boxes contains sufficient nutrients that keep the bacteria alive and active. However, the bacteria’s exponential growth meant that it eats up nutrients present in the cases within three to four days. This proves to be one of the main challenges that developers must tackle.
The success of this concept mainly lies in its environment. Rather than being manufactured or fabricated, the bacteria should live in a favorable habitat to grow naturally. The soft light it produces is easy on the eyes, reduces light pollution, and doesn’t disturb urban wildlife. Due to its inherent portability, the product is ideal for isolated communities. Other purposes such as store displays, billboards, and road signs can make use of this as well.
Lighting the way
According to Rey’s interview with BBC, the primary objective of Glowee is to change the perception of light resources and bring nature back into the cities by developing a special link with its lighting system. The goal is to create an atmosphere that will be suitable for both citizens and biodiversity. One example is the company’s meditative Glowzen Room where people can book a ticket to spend time in a chamber filled with microorganisms.
Rey also shared some challenges Glowee is working to hurdle over, mainly education and funds. She explains that sometimes it is hard to convince people of the company’s objectives as they have a lack of knowledge about bioluminescence. This is one of the main reasons why the company promotes bioluminescence in limited regions. To address this issue, Glowee has organized conferences and educational programs for children to teach them about bioluminescence and topics related to it. Once this happens, the company might get more avenues of funding.
YouTube: Welcome to the Glowzen Room!
Photo credit: The feature image used has been taken by Martin Empting. The image in the body of the article has been taken by Zdenek Bohm. Both photos are only symbolic.