Glowee – biological lighting glows without electricity

Glowee, a start-up company based in Paris, France, is developing bioluminescent lights to illuminate shop fronts and street signs.

According to Sandra Rey, founder of Glowee:

Our goal is to change the way we produce and use light. We want to offer a global solution that will reduce the 19 per cent of electricity consumption used to produce light.

By using bioluminescence, Glowee had created a light source that produces no greenhouse gas emissions. The lights can take any shape, from window stickers to more conventional lamps.  


The lights are made by filling small transparent cases with a gel that contains bioluminescent bacteria. Glowee uses a bacterium called Aliivibrio fischeri, which gives marine animals such as the Hawaiian bobtail squid the ability to glow with blue-green light. The gel provides nutrients that keep the bacteria alive. The biggest challenge is the exponential growth of bacteria, which consume the nutrients in the current shells within three days.


The beauty of this idea lies in its economy: instead of being extracted or processed, the raw material is cultivated simply by giving the bacteria an environment in which they thrive.

The product’s main eco-footprint is the organic pod it comes in, but Glowee plans to collect and incinerate the pods once they are spent. Sandra claims that the product’s entire life cycle equates to half the CO2 emissions of an equivalent LED system.

What’s more, the cold, soft light it emits will not disturb urban fauna and the system’s inherent portability makes it eminently suitable for isolated communities and facilities. The product has a host of marketing applications, from shop windows to road signs and street furniture. In the longer term, it may be used in building materials and even in paints.


Video Credit: CNBC International TV

Document references: Wired | Inno Energy | New Scientist