Bioluminescent public lighting. It is a world premiere inaugurated this Friday by the municipality of Rambouillet in Yvelines. A biotechnological innovation, developed by a team of researchers, and developed by a start-up in the Paris region that grows luminous marine bacteria.
Marine bacteria to illuminate public spaces using bioluminescence. A luminous and fascinating natural phenomenon, which can be observed in particular in deep sea fish or squid. During a few months, the Ville de Rambouillet will experiment with this source of light from the depths of the sea to illuminate a public square Where there is a cultural center called “Flashlight”.
thousands of tests
This lighting device, integrated into street furniture, was designed by a French start-up, based in Evry, in Essonne. The company Glowee has been working on this lighting project powered by marine bacteria for two years. It carried out thousands of tests before launching its facility in Rambouillet, as Sandra Rey, founder of the start-up, explains: “then I learned to know these bacteria, to identify them. We develop them in the lab to make them more efficient, putting them in different conditions to see how they evolve and we select the best ones”, says Sandra Rey who adds : “We’ve tested hundreds of thousands of conditions, thousands of crops and ways to grow them to find the best recipe.”
a technological challenge
Bioluminescence originates from a chemical compound called luciferin present in several hundred species. The vast majority of them, bioluminescent, live in the depths of the oceans. In contact with oxygen, the luciferin emits photons : a soft light that could, perhaps, one day replace the electric light of our street lamps, but until then there are still many challenges to overcome, as Sandra Rey explains: “IBacteria react differently, they don’t grow at the same speed when it’s cold as when it’s hot. We put them in an urban space where we don’t control any illness. You have to experiment with the robustness of the technology (…) in the long term, you have to be sure that the light is the same, whatever the conditions.”
Bioluminescence: a light of the future
The municipality of Rambouillet invested 100,000 euros in this project. She is betting, in this life-size experiment, to eventually reduce her electricity consumption and design real alternative public lighting, less polluting and safe, as Véronique Matillon, the mayor of the Rambouillet DVD, explained to the France 3 PIDF microphone. “I hope that this experience and this research will lead us to be able to use light with enough intensity to feel safe, and that it will also allow us not to pollute at sky level.”
The promises of bioluminescence are manifold: a reduction in energy expenditure when it approaches 2 billion euros a year in France, a reduction in light pollution that weakens echo-systems.
For Alain Renaudin, founder of Biomimexpo and singer of biomimetics (an approach that consists of taking inspiration from nature to innovate and think differently), it is worth following Rambouillet’s experience:illustrates, very well, the phenomenon that we have been seeing more and more for many years and the phenomenon is often driven by start-ups.” Alain Renaudin welcomes this innovation in Rambouillet : “we went from research to industry, from idea to application, that issay, how nature can inspire us. The more full-size apps there are on the street like Rambouillet, the more things will move forward (…) we have to test new approaches (…) we have to put them to the test of reality.”
For its part, the company Glowee clearly sees… in biological light, an alternative to electric light. Is it over there markets immersive installations for events and is already working on the design of a range of street furniture, as detailed by Sandra Rey: “ohn are the only ones to commercialize this marine bacteria process. We have already carried out an outdoor experiment with the city of Sens for an ephemeral architectural appreciation. We are working on about fifty projects with communities, planners and promoters. We are working with EDF’s lighting branch to integrate our system into their offer to municipalities.”
With Antoine Marguet and Méryl Loisel