UBC Okanagan students claim gold for light bulb invention that uses photosynthesis instead of electricity | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UBC Okanagan students claim gold for light bulb invention that uses photosynthesis instead of electricity

UBCO students have created a living life bulb that generates light from organic material.
Image Credit: UBCO

A group of UBC Okanagan students lit up their competition and claimed gold with a living light bulb that turns greenhouse gases into oxygen.

The team’s living light bulb aims to generate light from organic material. Their creation, called Life Bulb, is not reliant on electricity and can convert greenhouse gases into oxygen, according to a press release from the university.

The students competed in the 2022 International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition, a synthetic biology competition in Paris involving more than 350 teams from more than 40 countries.

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Despite this being UBCO’s first showing in the competition and despite the associated struggles with starting a team from the ground up, the UBCO students won a gold medal for their project, says Dr. Mitra Tabatabaee, the principal investigator for Life Bulb, in the news release.

The students use a fungal bioluminescent pathway with photosynthetic bacteria as their chassis. The project is still in testing but the intention is to create a green, glowing light source that is easily scalable and can be powered through the sun thanks to photosynthesis, according to UBCO.

“We wanted to provide this alternative sustainable source that can be potentially carbon-negative by absorbing greenhouse gases to reduce the impact that lighting has on our climate,” says Alyssa Kong, co-team lead and third-year Bachelor of Science student majoring in microbiology, in the press release.

Life Bulb is an entirely student-led initiative starting in early 2022. It was the first project from the UBCO iGEM club, which was founded by Gustavo Muro Marchani, a third-year Bachelor of Science student majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology.

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The team is interdisciplinary, with 16 students from backgrounds in biology, chemistry, engineering, computer science and management. In addition to faculty advisors from the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science and the School of Engineering, the team consulted with various stakeholders and industry professionals including lighting experts to get feedback.

Syilx artist Les Louis also contributed by creating a blueprint for a wood carving that incorporates Life Bulb as an art medium, according to the university.


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