Household energy use accounts for one-fifth of the total energy consumed annually in the US. Better insulation would lead to a reduction in energy consumption, but today's most popular forms of insulation have significant drawbacks in the form of health risks, high cost, and large environmental footprints.
This E-Team developed Greensulate, an environmentally friendly home insulation material. Greensulate is a composite board made up of insulating particles suspended in a matrix of mycelium-growth-stage mushroom cells. This mushroom-based insulation is biodegradable, low cost, produces no pollution in the manufacturing process, and insulates as well as competing products.
They've since focused on developing and selling Ecocradle, a green alternative to polystyrene/Styrofoam packaging.
Update: the team is now incorporated as Ecovative Design. The company won 500,000 euros at Picnic Green Challenge 2008, the world's premier green ideas conference, in Amsterdam, received SBIR Phase I funding from the EPA, and won the DoE's Renewable Energy Laboratory's Clean Energy Venture Awards. Click here to visit their website.
A carbon nanotube is a one-atom-thick sheet of graphite rolled up into a seamless cylinder with a diameter on the order of a nanometer. The unique molecular structure and high tensile strength of these tubes can potentially be used to make extremely strong and lightweight building materials (vehicle frames and more) and their ability to conduct heat also makes them ideal for superconductor electrical wiring. The drawback at the moment is their expense: current manufacturing processes create carbon nanotubes for about $100 per gram, too expensive for mass production. The challenge is to reduce production costs to a level where the tubes can become economically viable.
This E-Team, incorporated as Tiergan Technologies LLC, believes it can meet the challenge with a production process that creates nanotubes for nine cents per gram. Focusing on single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs), the team uses a method that utilizes ethanol as the carbon feedstock. While ethanol is more expensive than the standard carbon monoxide feedstock, it operates at much lower temperatures and is easier to scale up. The ethanol-based process allows for significant reduction in production cost.
Over sixteen billion hypodermic needle injections are given annually in developing countries, but, due to frequent needle reuse and inappropriate disposal, half of the injections are deemed unsafe. Each year, millions of new cases of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV are introduced in this way. In 1999 the WHO mandated that all conventional syringes used in its programs be replaced by auto-disable (A-D) needles that make reuse impossible, but this has not yet happened.
To combat the problem, this E-Team is developing an entirely new system of drug delivery based on plastic microneedles. The needles, which are about .5 mm long and feel like sandpaper on the skin of the patient, are made from bio-compatible, tough, and recyclable polymers. The drug delivery system consists of a flexible container (about the size of a fingertip) that contains the drug to be delivered, and, underneath, an array of microneedles that sits on the patient's skin. The drug seeps through the needles into the skin, and the device is put into recycling.
Central Venous Pressure (CVP) is the pressure of blood in the thoracic vena cava, near the right atrium of the heart. CVP reflects the amount of blood returning to the heart and the ability of the heart to pump the blood into the arterial system, and is a key parameter used in diagnosing serious conditions like heart failure and monitoring patient fluid levels. Currently the only method of accurately measuring CVP involves surgically inserting a catheter through a major vein, which is costly, highly invasive, and can lead to complications. For these reasons, CVP measurements are usually only taken for critical patients, even though early detection could help treat conditions like congestive heart failure.
This E-Team is developing a small handheld device, called cVein, that provides a noninvasive and accurate method of measuring CVP. Using an ultrasound machine to visualize the internal jugular (IJ) vein, the operator applies pressure to the vein with cVein. The device records the pressure required to collapse the IJ and displays the reading to the operator. This quick and noninvasive measurement method could be used in emergency or primary care settings, allowing for earlier diagnosis of problems.
University of California, Berkeley, 2007 - $16,000
This E-Team hopes to bring together consumers, communities, academics and solutions providers to assess problems and find solutions to reduce their environmental impact. CARES will be an assessment tool for complicated sustainability problems based on the most up-to-date models.
The team will create a proof of concept, create a developer community, get support from key NGOs and make contacts with the sustainable energy technology community. They envision providing users with the data and tools necessary to quantify the sustainability of their lives and assess their environmental impacts.
It is well known that over 1.1 billion people in the world lack access to safe drinking water. Point-of-use (POU) drinking water treatment technologies have the potential to provide clean drinking water for those without, but are limited in their use in developing nations by their cost, durability, microbiological effectiveness, maintenance, and general usability. One promising technology is porous ceramic filtration, which provides an effective barrier against microbial pathogens in water and has recorded significant health gains in users versus non-users. The filter is, however, susceptible to breakage over time (2% per month in a daily household), is expensive to make where fuel to fire the kilns is scarce, and isn't feasible where clay isn't locally available.
This E-Team aims to build on the success of ceramic filtration by substituting the porous ceramic filter body with porous concrete, a more durable, more widely available, and less energy-intensive product.
The Buzby Networks team is creating a wireless network solution for the healthcare industry, particularly nursing homes. The team's system will allow for the wireless tracking of patients, equipment, and personnel.
The need for Buzby's network comes primarily from the tendency of some nursing home patients to wander off, escape, and put themselves and others in danger. Buzby Networks believes its wireless technology will provide peace of mind to families and staff.
Today's standard football helmet design includes a hard outer shell, a protective foam layer, and a comfort foam layer resting on the head. An impact occurring directly to the hard shell is distributed over the padding, which deforms in compression. This works well for direct impacts, protecting against concussion, but doesn't perform as well for indirect or rotational impacts, since the padding is relatively stiff with respect to shear forces.
This E-Team is developing the Enhanced Bio-morphic Helmet (EBM), an improved helmet better able to withstand indirect impacts. The design of the EBM imitates the protection system of the human brain, scalp, skull and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The skull is simulated with a composite sandwich shell, the scalp by silicone gel sandwiched between the outer and inner wall of the shell, and the CSF by a soft padding system underneath the inner wall.
It is standard practice in the US to monitor a mother and fetus during the labor and delivery process. However, the reliability and user-friendliness of current monitoring devices is questionable: the two sensors (fetal heart rate and contraction) must be strapped tightly to the woman's abdomen, require continual adjustment by nursing staff, limit mobility, and interfere with fetal monitoring during placement of an epidural.
This E-Team is developing a new approach to fetal monitoring. The team's solution consists of disposable adhesive patches placed on the mother's abdomen. The heart rate and contraction sensors are miniaturized and incorporated into the patches themselves. Once the patches are placed, they will not need adjustment by nurses, will not interfere with epidural placement, will allow the mother to move around more freely, and will provide more reliable data.
This E-Team is working to improve on current 3D medical imaging techniques by increasing their accuracy, field of view, speed and complexity, while at the same time lowering cost. Using advanced algorithms, the team has achieved preliminary results; this grant will help further develop their technique and build a prototype.
The 3D imaging market includes image construction of human body parts and organs, vision systems for tracking, and many other applications in the camera and entertainment industries as well as the military. The team's workplan includes improvement and optimization of techniques, prototyping, and assessment and final improvements.