The Current Table by Marjan van Aubel is a workstation that generates energy from daylight then uses it to charge appliances.
It features a clear orange glass table top on triangular trestle legs, with two USB charging points that can be used to top up the batteries in phones or tablets.
“The amount of sunlight the earth receives in one day could power all our electrical appliances for an entire year,” explained the Royal College of Art graduate. “The question is how to capture and store it, and how to transport it to where and when it is needed.”
Inside the glass panels is a dye-synthesised solar cell that uses the properties of colour to create an electrical current, in a similar way to how plants use green chlorophyll to convert sunlight into energy.
This technique works by placing small particles of titanium dioxide on a piece of transparent glass that is then dyed orange. The dyeing technique helps the titanium dioxide absorb sunlight more efficiently. When sunlight is present, electrons stored in the titanium dioxide are released creating an electrical current. When not in use, the electricity is stored in a battery.
The table can charge itself using diffused sunlight found indoors, unlike traditional solar cells that require direct sunlight to generate a current. A USB charging point with a simple light display indicates how much charge is currently in the table.
“While you read a book or write emails, you can use your table to charge your iPad or mobile phone,” said Aubel.
Charging times vary depending on the amount of sunlight present. “One cell needs about eight hours to fully charge a battery, and there are four cells for each USB port,” the designer said.
She believes the tables could be used in libraries, restaurants and meeting rooms as a simple way of providing power without the need to lay cables.
The Current Table will go on display at Salone Satellite as part of Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan next month, along with work by other Royal College of Art graduates.