Due to stagnant growth in the nuclear industry over the last few decades, there has been little innovation in the area of radiation detection and analysis. In terms of technological innovation, the industry still uses radiation detectors based on a 1970's design; the user spins a dial in order to give measurements. Companies must then record measurements by hand, enter them into a data analysis program by hand, file all paperwork by hand, and finally input the results into a database by hand.
This E-Team is designing a modern radiation detector that can not only detect radiation but also analyze measurements and has a data format that can be read by any general data analysis software, such as Excel. The detector will use the latest in mobile technology, including the Android and iOS operating systems. This paperwork automation solution will be offered to companies experiencing backlogs due to high labor costs and human error.
According to a 2010 WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation report, 2 in 10 urban dwellers and 7 in 10 rural dwellers lack access to running water, with many more receiving an inconsistent water supply. Handwashing can prevent twice as many water-borne deaths as clean drinking water alone, but without running water, children skip washing their hands, or people “wash” hands in grey water, or simulate a flow of water by holding a tub in their mouth and pouring water over their hands—exposing themselves and source water to contamination.
Balde a Balde (Spanish for “Bucket to Bucket”) is a portable faucet that delivers a flow of running water from any container. The user attaches Balde a Balde to any container with a universal clip, then starts a continuous flow of water with a few squeezes of the siphon pump. Users can easily control the amount of water they need with a simple click of the on/off spout or a twist of the valve to regulate flow. Balde a Balde, estimated to cost $6, uses gravity to bring the dignity of running water to the three billion people living without taps.
A movie about the Safe Agua project (of which Balde a Balde is a part) was shortlisted for the Cannes Young Directors Award (June, 2012)
Modern consumer electronics devices such as smartphones, tablets and notebooks use rechargeable lithium ion batteries as their energy source. However, the duration of use, recharging speed, processor power and functionality of these devices are limited by constraints on battery weight and volume as well as the energy capacity of current battery technologies. In many cases, current batteries can’t meet the energy and power density required by many applications.
This E-Team is developing SiNode, an advanced anode technology that increases the energy density (5-7 times) and reduces the charging time of lithium-ion batteries up to a factor of 10. SiNode’s technology uses a composite of silicon nano-particles within a patent-pending graphene scaffolding system. These anodes are fabricated using a solution-based manufacturing process that is scalable and easily integrated into existing manufacturing processes.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2012 - $17,500
Every twenty seconds, an American suffers from a cardiac event; every sixty seconds, an American dies because of one. Heart attacks are the number one cause of death in developed countries, greater than all cancer deaths combined. Remote patient monitoring could help address the issue, but the market is stagnant, focused only on retirees. The two most popular solutions either work only in the home or are very simplistic and provide a false sense of security.
The Benecure E-Team is developing I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency), a non-invasive monitoring device (hardware and software) that alerts emergency services in the event of a major cardiac episode. The device constantly monitors the user’s heart parameters, and if the individualized parameter values are breached, the algorithm triggers the device to automatically contact 911 and family and friends. The device is unobtrusive and rests under the patient’s arm.
An important process in the origin and development of both cancer and psychiatric diseases is a loss of gene expression through a mechanism termed “epigenetic silencing.” For example, virtually every cancer occurs in large part because of aberrant epigenetic gene silencing, in which genes critical for preventing tumor formation are turned off. Similarly, when genes critical for mental health are turned off, psychiatric disease ensues. New epigenetic drug therapies are based on finding drugs that reactivate silenced genes in order to treat disease. Growth in epigenetic-based disease research has been tremendous, and four epigenetic drugs are currently approved. These drugs, however, are focused on fighting disease in its later stages.
The Nzumbe E-Team is developing a novel technology to identify drugs that prevent and reverse the early steps in epigenetic silencing. The team’s major advancement is a technique in which drug compounds can be tested in quickly and effectively in virtually any living, diseased tissue. Current drug testing methods take months and have high rates of failure.
Total Knee Replacement (TKR) surgeries are common in the US, and expected to rise as the population ages. The knee implants typically last 15-20 years, with wear, osteolysis (resorption of bone tissue) and mechanical loosening accounting for 30-40% of follow-up surgeries to fix problems. Much of the wear results from the impact of walking and high cyclic loading, but no currently available artificial knee implants include a force-reduction component.
This team is developing the SpringSert™, an add-on to existing artificial knee implants. This novel device will serve as an artificial shock-absorbing meniscus, reducing impact force throughout cyclic loading and extending the lives of the implants.
Most mainstream news media, large museums and archives have already digitized their visual collections, making the photos widely accessible and generating revenue from license fees. But small institutions and archives typically lack the resources to pay for digitization, meaning that impressive collections are available only to the select few with physical access to the archive. An example is the Afro American Newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland, which has a collection of 1.5 million photographs spanning 115 years of the city's African American history. The archive cannot afford to digitize, presenting a major problem for scholars and educators studying minority history and for members of minority communities seeking to understand their own history.
The standard business model for digitizing an archive’s physical photographs involves the archive paying a digitization company to scan each photograph in the collection, generally by hand, as materials are fragile. This team has developed an archival scanning robot, the Gado 1, which can lift fragile images using suction, place them on a standard flatbed scanner, scan them into a database at full archival-quality 600dpi resolution, and place them gently into an output bin, all without human intervention. The project’s goal is to create a robotic archival scanner that small archives can purchase and assemble for less than $500 and use to autonomously digitize their photographic collections.
Fuel storage capacity, range and costs have been the main deterrents to the adoption of natural gas as an alternative fuel choice in America. Part of the problem is the typical natural gas fuel storage system found in vehicles; prior to advancements in composites and designs, tanks were made of steel, were very heavy and dangerous if exploded due to scrap metal debris. Advancements over the years have allowed for higher pressure (and thus greater storage capacity and range), but have usually resulted in additional cost or added weight.
This team is developing a new natural gas fuel storage system that could solve these issues. The solution, a higher-pressure storage vessel constructed using innovative, mineral-based composite materials, can hit the target service pressure of 5800 psi compared to standard 3600. By increasing pressure, more fuel can be stored in a smaller space, thus reducing the size and increasing capacity. The team’s innovation is the material (mineral fiber reinforced plastic which mimics carbon fiber) and the use of several composite manufacturing techniques (including braiding and filament winding to enhance strength).