By Amy Lane
A student team that developed a plan to use algae to simultaneously treat wastewater and produce raw material for biofuels has won a top prize in a competition established by DTE Energy Co. and the University of Michigan.
Team Algal Scientific Corp., made up of business and engineering students from UM and Michigan State University, won $65,000 in the inaugural Clean Energy Prize competition.
The competition was established by DTE and UM along with sponsors Masco Corporation Foundation and The Kresge Foundation, to encourage entrepreneurship in Michigan and the development of clean energy technology.
The prize was developed “as a catalyst for students and faculty to bring clean energy technologies from university labs to the market,” said DTE President and COO Gerard Anderson, in a news release. “We also see this prize as one of many steps toward recapturing Michigan’s past spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.”
In all, the competition entailed $100,000 in prize money, including smaller amounts previously awarded.
Under Algal’s wastewater treatment system, algae would take up nutrients and would then be harvested and sent to a plant to be converted into biofuels.
A team that proposed converting rice husk ash to make highly efficient insulation for refrigerators won a second-place, $21,000 prize, while a $3,400 third-place prize went to a team that proposed producing fuel-flexible power generators for use in military tanks and tractor trailers.
A team that proposed a rigid solar shading window system, configured to respond to seasonal variations with high energy efficiency, was previously awarded fourth place and a $3,400 prize.