September 2009

OsmoPure

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2009 - $10,500

This E-Team is developing OsmoPure, a low-cost water purification device for developing countries based on simple membrane filtration technology. While there are a number of water filtration devices being marketed to the poor, many of them don’t work in murky water (they get easily clogged), often require a large energy input in order to work (e.g., hand pumping), and fail to remove all contaminants. OsmoPure is a compact, cartridge-based, multi-stage water purification system. To produce potable water, the user fills a plastic bottle with dirty water, screws on the purifier like you would screw on a cap and squeezes the bottle to dispense clean water. When the filter looks dirty, the user simply shakes the fluid inside to remove debris. The purifiers are meant for plastic bottles that exist currently as rubbish in the target areas, cutting production and distribution costs and creating an environmentally friendly solution to the global water crisis.

Updates:

OsmoPure wins $100,000 at MassChallenge (Nov. 2010)

Fast Company story (Dec. 2010)

Reverse Engineering Bicycles to Develop New Businesses, Products and Increased Income for the Metalworking and Agriculture Industries in Lebialem (Cameroon)

San Jose State University, 2009 - $20,000

Follow the project!

This E-Team is looking to solve three interrelated problems in Lebialem, Cameroon with products derived from bicycle parts. Most people in Lebialem earn two dollars a day, primarily from agriculture, which requires people to walk 20-40 kilometers to get to market, bringing only what they can carry. Houses aren’t electrified, which makes nighttime activities like studying more difficult. And while there’s a longstanding metalworking industry in the region, it’s currently on the decline. The team proposes three products, derived mostly from old bicycles, to help stimulate the metalworking industry and overcome the first two problems:

  • The River Light: a small hydrokinetic device that charges portable LEDs (home lighting)
  • The Side Cart: a side-cart for a bicycle to increase carrying capacity when going to market
  • The Universal Connector: a steel joint that can be the central unit for other products

The team has developed several iterations of prototypes of each of the three products. They’ve partnered with specialists from the cycling industry (Specialized Bicycles) and a Lebialem community group. With NCIIA funding the team will build third-generation prototypes, travel to Lebialem to do user testing and meet with metalworkers, build final prototypes, and start manufacturing in Lebialem.

Optimization of a Novel Device to Measure the Intrinsic Muscles of the Hand

Rice University, 2009 - $13,200

Testing a person’s intrinsic hand muscle strength (IMHS) is helpful in diagnosing a number of health problems, from arthritis to diabetes to nerve injuries. The manual muscle test (MMT) is the most common clinical test to assess IMHS, but tends toward low validity, poor reliability and inherent subjectivity. There are a few other devices on the market, but all demand extensive clinician involvement and/or fail to isolate the intrinsic muscles, leading to errors. This E-Team is developing the Peg Restrained Intrinsic Muscle Evaluator (PRIME), a device that can comfortably and accurately measure IMHS for a wide range of hand types and sizes. It consists of a pegboard base, a force transducer enclosure and a display unit.

Magnetic Ventures

University of Michigan, 2009 - $16,700

Artificial knee and hip replacement surgeries are common today, with the majority of the implants using a plastic-on-metal joint interface. Unfortunately, plastic-on-metal joints are only temporary solutions, as most implants last 10-15 years before needing a second surgery to replace the worn device. This E-Team, incorporated as Magnetic Ventures, is looking to help joint replacements last longer with the Magnetically Assisted Artificial Joint, a patent-pending technology that lowers the contact stress at the joint interface through the use of magnets. The technology operates on a similar conceptual basis as MagLev trains, which utilize electromagnetic forces to lower friction between the train and track; as a MagLev track experiences a constant load from the train, the magnetic field needed to lift the train is constant. The team’s device uses an elastic material to control the distance between magnets in the joints and adjust the magnetic force; as the force in the joint increases, the magnets are pushed closer together, lowering the interface force and decreasing friction in the joint. The team has written a business plan, won several local business plan competitions, and developed and patented a prototype. With NCIIA funding they will test biocompatible elastic materials that would be used in their device, analyze various arrangements of magnets, and develop their network.

A Medical Device to Treat Gallstone Disease

Stanford University, 2009 - $18,968

Biliary colic is a condition in which a gallstone becomes lodged at the gallbladder outlet, and, if left untreated, can cause severe and life-threatening infections. The most common treatment for this disease is surgical removal of the gallbladder, but due to a high risk of complications in the elderly and critically ill, surgery is not a viable option for over 200,000 patients per year. Instead, they're treated with conservative management, which is often unsuccessful. This E-Team is looking to develop a safe and effective alternative for these patients, as well as the large numbers of patients in developing countries where surgery isn’t an option. Since the gallbladder in patients with stones is actually normal and the stones are harmless provided they are kept away from the outlet, the team has developed a novel stainless steel filter device to prevent stones from reaching the outlet. The filter is delivered through a catheter and expands after deployment. Radial force holds the filter in place. The geometry of the filter prevents stones larger than two millimeters from passing.

Automating Long-Range Vibrometry Through Vision and Web Technologies

City College of New York, 2009 - $18,144

Laser Doppler Vibrometers (LDVs) are sensors capable of detecting very small amounts of vibration from far away (100 meters or more). LDVs are used in bridge and building safety inspections, since structural defects give out small vibration signals, as well as in the automotive, aerospace, medical and industrial testing industries. The problem is that all current LDVs are manually operated, and it can take some time to find an appropriate reflective surface, focus the laser beam and get a vibration signal. This E-Team is developing a method to automate LDVs. The team's system, which involves hardware, software, and a web component, automatically selects a surface, tracks and focuses. The web component allows users to control the system remotely.

The team has filed a provisional patent and partnered with Polytec, an LDV company. With NCIIA funding they will build and test a working prototype, file for more patent protection, and look to pursue licensing with Polytec or other LDV manufacturers.

AYZH: Sheba Water Filter

Colorado State University, 2009 - $16,700

AYZH offers two products for resale by women entrepreneurs in developing markets:

  • Sheba Water Filter, a household water filter to provide high quality drinking water at a low cost
  • Clean Delivery Birth Kit: A hygiene kit for rural midwives to deliver babies for post natal health
     

     

Sheba is an innovative, low cost household water filter targeted specifically at women in rural Indian communities. It consists of a stacking system in which cloth bags filled with filter media (sand, gravel, ceramic, etc.) can be added and removed according to need. This design overcomes three problems with current water filters: slow rate of filtration, difficulty in cleaning filters, and difficulty in adapting filters to regional and seasonal variations in water.

Sheba was created in the International Developing Design Summit at MIT in 2007. Since then, the team has worked on prototyping the device. With NCIIA funding the team will further refine the design, test it in India, perform market research, re-design, and launch.

More

Now a non-profit called AYZH. Won a World Healthcare Congress award in 2011.

DayOne Response: Polytech Waterbag, Water Treatment for Disaster Relief

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, 2009 - $20,000

The Polytech Waterbag is a water filtration bag with disinfectant to be used in disaster relief situations. Developed and marketed by DayOne Response, the Waterbag will be sold to relief organizations and governments.
 

Providing people with clean drinking water is the one of the biggest challenges following a natural disaster. The most common solution is having aid agencies and governments deliver large five-gallon jugs of water, which is a costly and slow undertaking. Other solutions (hand-pumped filters, chlorine tablets) are either too expensive or only partially effective at treating contaminated water. This E-Team is developing a new way to ensure people have access to safe drinking water after a disaster: the Polytech Waterbag (PW). The PW is a ten-liter plastic bladder equipped with carrying straps and an integrated filter with a dispensing port. It’s designed to be used with Procter & Gamble’s PUR® chemical treatment packets; by using the packet along with the filter, complete water purification can be achieved. The PW comes with other features as well: a wide mouth for easy filling in shallow streams, a sediment trap to prevent recontamination, and more. The bags are 20x more compact than five-gallon water jugs to ship, and can treat enough water to supply a family of four for 5-10 days. The team has developed and patented a prototype, participated in and won several business plan competitions, and worked with Clinton Global Initiative project.

In 18 short months, NCIIA E-Team DayOne Response has moved from a student team with a cool idea to a company with a disaster-relief product being field tested by the US and Thai Marine Corps. Here's the story in pictures:

Quick facts:

May 2009: awarded a $20K E-Team grant.

Nov. 2009: attended Advanced I2V workshop to develop business strategy.

March 2010: showcased the waterbag at Open Minds.

April 2010: incorporated as DayOne Response, and wins a contract with the US Navy to continue R&D on the waterbag via a joint technology exercise between the US and Thai Marines. The waterbag was one of the few technologies in that exercise to meet US military objectives for Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief missions.

More:

From Cal Poly Engineering News: Alum makes her project her career

 

 

 

Solar Ease

University of Pittsburgh, 2009 - $20,000

While solar energy is an attractive option to provide the green energy of the future, it remains burdened by high installation costs and hasn’t been as widely adopted as it should be. Part of the problem is the physical process of installation: solar panels require mounting brackets, outside breakers and ground connections, and holes through walls for the wires. This E-Team is looking to reduce the cost of installing solar panels by developing a method to transmit solar energy wirelessly from outdoor solar panels to an indoor storage unit. The team is building on a novel wireless technology called WiTricity, which is capable of transmitting energy through walls without direct cable connections. With NCIIA funding the team will create a proof-of-concept prototype, research target markets and applications for the technology, and move toward commercialization by writing a business plan and securing IP.