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NUvention: Projects
2012 NUvention: Energy Projects

Mimas Nanomaterials

Mimas Nanomaterials makes a suite of high-value nanoparticles from plastic waste. We use a patented autogenic reaction process to upcycle several forms of plastic waste (including HDPE, LDPE, and Polystyrene) into a variety of nanomaterials. These unique products — from carbon nanotubes to metal oxides — have diverse applications across the high-tech manufacturing sector in the United States. Our first product will be spherical carbon particles (SCPs) for use in LiFePO4 battery anodes. Preliminary modeling shows our SCPs could potentially outperform current anode materials on safety, cost, and cycle life. Initial market research puts the total addressable market for this product at $300-$600 million. Success in the battery market will allow us to scale our process and commercialize other lucrative possibilities for upcycling plastic waste into high-performance raw materials for a green economy.

Armageddon Energy

Harnessing the sun’s energy through rooftop solar panels is not a new concept. The benefits were identified decades ago. However, even though the cost of energy continues to rise, people are becoming more aware of their carbon footprint and sustainability is becoming a more pronounced global issue, the adoption of rooftop solar power is still quite low due to large barriers to consumer installation. Armageddon Energy provides a solution to many of these barriers with its SolarClover™ design. The SolarClover™ is a 1kW AC rooftop solar system for home owners and anyone who wants an attractive, affordable, easy to install solar system. The SolarClover™ makes generating energy from the Sun as simple as getting a new dishwasher. The simplicity and safety of the fully integrated system allows any contractor to install the system without significant additional training and it can fit in the back of a contractor’s van. Looking forward, Armageddon Energy faces challenges including choosing the best channel partners, scaling its business, educating the end-user and locating financing. Solutions to these challenges will allow consumers to easily harness the energy of the sun from their rooftops.

Tradelightly: Reducing Emissions Without Reducing The Bottom Line

With interest growing in measuring the environmental impacts of standard business practices, many corporations are looking to develop new ways of doing business that reduces their carbon footprint while not harming the bottom line. While many emissions counting platforms currently exist, a lack of standards governing emissions reporting as well as incentives to use these tools has kept the carbon reduction movement to a minimum. Hoping to provide additional incentives to keep carbon reductions economically favorable, TradeLightly will provide a two-sided platform between retailers and freight companies that optimizes business for both groups with the added bonus of increased carbon reduction.

Si-Node

Si-node is an anode technology for lithium-ion batteries that utilizes a silicone-graphene nanocomposite for vastly superior performance over current graphite anode technology. Laboratory half cell tests have demonstrated charge capacities an order of magnitude greater than graphite anodes in addition to charge/discharge rate increases of 2-3x. Furthermore, our anodes are fabricated in a highly scalable manner using only wet chemistry and minimal equipment. We have selected the consumer electronics market as the best fit for the advantages our technology offers. Portable electronics have become a multi-billion dollar industry with a constant need for devices that can operate for extended periods of time and can charge quickly. The processing power of smart phones and laptops continue to increase in accordance with Moore’s law and Si-node provides the means to finally close the gap between the portable energy capacity and processing power needs.

Smart Grid Solutions

Smart Grid Solutions™ (SGS) is a company designed to help utilities achieve their energy efficiency goals and to help commercial customers reduce the amount of money spent on energy. SGS is uniquely positioned between utility companies and commercial consumers of energy, specifically users in [targeted market segment]. This strategic positioning allows SGS to analyze consumer usage data provided by the utility company using proprietary software and algorithms, educate consumers about their energy usage, and implement changes to make these businesses more energy efficient.

Tracking Radioactive Materials

Both public and private entities have identified the need for a compact and portable system for detecting and tracking the illicit introduction of a radiation source into ports of entry, large venues, across our borders, even in nuclear power plants. Our system is able to provide not only surveillance of people, packages, and vehicles but also provide updated source-position estimates in real time along with a video feed. The system essentially automatically tracks a host, alerts law enforcement personnel, and archives the event. A software package estimates essentially instantaneously the source position to within a foot or two, something a human operator cannot hope to do using current systems of independent and alarming proximity detectors. Our system’s capability is an important tool for combating potential radiological threats that face public and private interests.

Tion Technology Water Purification System

Everyone needs clean drinking water. Water is necessary to sustain life. Yet despite needing clean water, people cannot always find clean water where they live or travel because it is contaminated with viruses and bacteria. So, even though water covers almost 70% of the world's surface, the world is running out of clean drinking water for its growing population. It is both shocking and sad that 20% of the world's population cannot find safe, clean drinking water each day. University of Illinois has developed a method that might be able to solve this problem. University of Illinois' Tion Technology uses titanium dioxide to clean, disinfect, and purify dirty water in order to make it safe for human consumption. This Tion Technology can also be used to clean wastewater and improve sanitation around the world. Additionally, this technology has other potential uses in the electronics industry and in the healthcare industry. The Northwestern University student team will be tasked with creating a business model to commercialize this product's revolutionary technology.

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