Friday, February 8, 2013

Case Western Reserve Sends Two Teams to Regional Clean Energy Challenge

Two of the five competing student teams in the Ohio Clean Energy Challenge competition have been sent forward as "wild cards" to the six-state regional competition in Chicago this April.

Selected after all the states had picked their regional champions — Ohio's was a team from Cleveland State University — two of Case Western Reserve University's teams join a team from the University of Missouri to complete the nine-team field, who will be vying for a spot in the national competition in Washington later this spring.

The two wild cards:

Nanoharv Technologies, by graduate student Justin Isaacs and undergraduate Aditya Rengaswamy, which creates an environmentally friendly process to turn algae blooms into biofuel feedstock through the use of nanoparticles and magnetic bar separators. They were assisted by team mentor Bill Trainor from Mutual Capital Partners.

Ecospinners, by graduate student Justin Einstein and undergraduate Jean Zhao, which is designing an integrated and programmable electric bike with a hybrid battery involving advance lithium-ion polymers and liquid-fueled fuel cell. Their team mentor is Ted Theofrastous of the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center, and they were advised by faculty members Chris Daroux and Bob Pizzola.

Five of the seven Ohio competitors were from AICUO member campuses. Each team consisted of students assisted by mentors from their faculty and from entrepreneurs around the state. The other AICUO teams in the competition:

CW Inc., designed by Malone University undergraduates Jonathan Clark, Catherine Kennedy, Jonanthan Miller, and Cameron Worth, uses a methane transformer to convert manure to natural gas. Their team mentor is Kerri Breen of Arsenal Venture Partners, and their advisers were faculty members Donghai Chen and Elizabeth Postlewaite.

Flydrive, designed by Case Western Reserve undergraduates Kristoffer Bosma, Kristen Brouwer, Jordan Lajoie, Adam Lauser, and Lucas Voigt, develops a flywheel regenerative braking system that makes less use of batteries for hybrid vehicles than current technology. Their mentor is Lee Poseidon of Jumpstart, Inc.

Smartility LLC, designed by Case Western Reserve undergraduates Stephen Buehrer, Joseph Fogarty, Robert Karam, and Bryan Marty, gathers data on electric consumption from electrical outlets and transmits the data to consumers to allow home energy management through online energy reporting. Their mentor is Jack Harley of FirstPower Group LLC.

The projects that were not selected are eligible to continue their development and return to the competition in future years. The national grand prize of $100,000 is awarded in the U.S. Department of Energy National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition in Washington, D.C., in June.

The Ohio competition was organized by the University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio, of which AICUO is a member, and by NorTech.