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'Visionary': The new plan for a Canberra to Eden railway line
Today we are pleased to report the full commercial release of the latest leap forward in renewable energy: Lunar PanelsTM! They were developed right here in Goulburn.
These are a glass like shield you mount over traditional Photo-Voltaic (PV) Solar panels that allow them to continue to generate electricity overnight. Despite the name, they are not true “Lunar” panels powered by the moon's rays. Instead they have a special clear bioactive filling.
This phenomenon was discovered by Professor Fredrick Authur Randolf Theopholis, associate professor of Microbiology at the North East Goulburn Institute (NEG). After a lengthy absence, Professor Theopholis returned to his off-grid rural cabin to find his solar panels covered in bat droppings and effectively useless. Much to his surprise, his batteries were fully charged and operating. This mystery was solved that evening when he noticed a faint phosphorescent glow coming from the smattering across his roof.
Putting his skills to good use, Professor Theopholis discovered the bats that had messed up his roof had colonised a nearby cave inhabited by “glow worms”. The bats had eaten the worms, but the microbes within that cause the worms to glow had passed right through and flourished in the rich environment left on Professor Theopholis' roof. After taking a sample, he was able to isolate the microbes and demonstrate their bio-chemistry allowing them to absorb high energy ultra-violet radiation by day, then reverse the process later to produce cellular energy when required, with a low green light as “waste”.
Through selective breeding, Professor Theopholis was able to quickly isolate, then evolve a microbe strain able to absorb sufficient energy during a day to drive a conventional solar panel throughout the night. “The microbes themselves are opaque in the UV light range, but translucent in the visible range. They need to be to expel their waste. The biggest problem was finding something to keep them alive on the roof for long periods, other than bat droppings”.
Fortunately Professor Theopholis teamed up with Dr Barry Ulysses Masters, who had recently left his proctology practice to take a position at NEG as Professor of Material Sciences. “Fred and I worked out this special mucus for the little buggers to live in that could be sealed between two flat glass plates” he said. “Whack those beneath a one way mirror, bolt 'em onto your solar cells and you've got a panel that works almost as well at night as it does in the day.”
“Our marketing consultant came up with the name 'Lunar Panels', even though that's not really what they are.” professor Masters explained. “Fred wanted to call them BPPs: 'Bat Poo Pannels'”.
“As with all new technologies, the biggest problem has been the high initial cost of production” Professor Theopholis explained. “The mucus needs to be harvested from pig's anuses by hand. What's turned this from a research project to a commercial reality is the discovery that those Bangladeshi kids we've got working up on Bazza's farm on temp visas, don't need to be paid at all.”
This article first appeared on www.goulburnpost.com.au
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