Winners of the University of Washington Environmental Innovation Challenge Announced

Twenty student teams from Washington pitched their innovations at the University of Washington Environmental Innovation Challenge April 4, 2013, addressing energy, urban agriculture, recycling, built environment, and water-related problems with novel solutions.  Now in its fifth year, the Environmental Innovation Challenge focuses on the development of prototypes that solve today’s biggest environmental problems and have market potential.

The winners are:

$10,000 Grand Prize (sponsored by the UW Center for Commercialization):  PolyDrop (University of Washington).   PolyDrop manufactures additives that transform regular coatings (think paint) into conductive coatings that open up a world of opportunity for carbon fiber composites in transportation industries. The transportation industry is looking to move towards using light-weight carbon fiber materials to reduce fuel consumption and decrease carbon dioxide emissions. However, carbon fiber composites accumulate a static charge that will interfere with a vehicle’s sensitive electronics. PolyDrop solves this problem by providing a means to dissipate  static electricity with a viable conductive technology.

$5,000 Second Place Prize (sponsored by Puget Sound Energy):  Pure Blue Technologies (University of Washington).  One barrel of extracted or spilled oil generate an average of seven barrels of contaminated water, or produced water. Produced water must be disinfected to meet EPA regulations, even if it is just going to be disposed. In the U.S. alone, 353 billion gallons of highly contaminated produced water are treated and disposed each year – that’s enough water to fill Lake Washington 4 1/2 times! Pure Blue Technologies has developed a unique water disinfection technology that is safer, smaller, and more cost-effective than existing solutions.

$2,500 Honorable Mentions sponsored by Fenwick & West, Starbucks, and SNC Lavalin:

  • EcoMembrane (University of Washington):  EcoMembrane is developing a new technology for preventing scaling and fouling of desalination and wastewater treatment membranes using ultrasound.
  • Sunscroll (Western Washington University):  Sunscroll is a solar charged LED light and USB charging station.
  • Upcycle (University of Washington):  Upcycle has an enhanced version of a bio-briquette maker that transforms bio-waste into fuel for cook stoves.