University of California Berkeley


University of California, Berkeley, 2010 - $18,400

Middle-income families in emerging markets around the world would like to have the same hot shower their counterparts in wealthier countries experience every morning. Demand for comfort technologies like water heaters is growing quickly in these markets, but the current options for water heating are either very expensive (tank heaters) or low quality (biomass burning), and all emit significant amounts of carbon. Both the upfront and ongoing energy costs of water heating technologies in, for example, Mexico, make hot water a well-guarded comfort.

The CalSolAgua (CSA) team has developed a low cost solar water heating system capable of reducing energy costs for households in developing countries while also reducing carbon dioxide emissions. CSA’s solar water heater can retail for about $100—one-fourth of the price of competing water tank heaters.

Shuttle-tracking Service Project

University of California, Berkeley, 2003 - $19,989

This E-Team looked to make the UC Berkley shuttle system safer and more convenient by developing a shuttle tracking service. The service provides the location of Berkeley shuttles to students and other riders through a central server connected to the internet. Each shuttle transmits its location data via a built-in GPS device to internet access points situated throughout the shuttle routes. Users can access the location data with their cell phones, through the web, or on public display boards placed near campus buildings.

The team consisted of three students specializing in electrical engineering and computer science, business administration, and bioengineering. One professor of engineering and five industry advisors aided the students in areas of design, marketing, and safety.

Piezoelectric Microjet for Drug Delivery

University of California, Berkeley, 2003 - $19,800

Needle-based drug delivery is often painful, has limited accuracy, and typically requires a visit to a doctor's office. Some therapeutics are totally inaccessible to individuals because they can't safely and reliably deliver the drugs themselves. To address these problems this E-Team developed a hand-held microjet drug delivery system to replace the use of hypodermic needles in treating arthritis patients. The piezoelectric actuation device accurately delivers the correct dosage with minimum pain.

The E-Team consisted of three undergraduate students specializing in bioengineering.

Wireless Crop Protection

University of California, Berkeley, 2004 - $15,900

This E-Team developed a wireless frost protection system for California vineyards. When the temperature in vineyards reaches frost levels (38-40 degrees), the system automatically turns on frost-prevention equipment and alerts the field manager of any trouble. The system consists of temperature-monitoring Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) deployed in the field, a computer interface showing the field manager a map of the vineyard and the temperature at each WSN, and ultra-bright LEDs in the field acting as beacons that communicate system operation and temperature zones, allowing a field manager to drive around and gauge vineyard condition from afar.

The current method of protecting crops from frost is simple and effective, but antiquated: when temperature dips, an alarm wakes the field manager, who drives around the vineyard checking thermometers and manually activating wind generators, which pull in warm air from higher elevations. Field managers usually do not go back to sleep to ensure no problems arise with the generators, leading to extreme sleep deficiency during frost spells. The E-Team's system automatically turns on the generators and allows the field manager to check on their operation remotely.

The E-Team consisted of two mechanical engineering PhD students, a mechanical engineering graduate student, an MBA candidate, and an industrial design student. Advisors to the team included the director of the Management of Technology program at UC Berkeley, a winegrowing manager for Gallo Vineyards, a viticulturalist, and a product design and strategy consultant.

Seguro: Pesticide Protection and Warning System

University of California, Berkeley, 2005 - $20,000

This E-Team developed a system of products to protect Central California farmworkers from chronic pesticide exposure, which can lead to a wide range of short-term and long-term health effects including cancer, birth defects, and diminished reproductive ability. The team developed two different technologies to combat the problem: a protective suit for the workers and pesticide sensors for their homes. The suit is made from breathable, repellent Tyvek, Teflon and activated charcoal; it consists of overalls with one shoulder strap, an apron over the other shoulder, a hood, a ventilation mask with a carbon filter, gloves, and shoe coverings. The sensors, which incorporate smart dust mote technology to form wireless sensor networks, are designed to detect and record levels of pesticides, providing both an instantaneous alert when pesticides are detected and a long-term record of pesticide exposure, to be used by government agencies like OSHA and EPA in developing case histories of pesticide problems. The team chose the brand name Seguro, which means "safety" in Spanish.

Community Assessment of Renewable Energy and Sustainability

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.

Ryan Shelby's blog

(co-founder CARES)

Removing Arsenic from Contaminated Drinking Water in Rural Bangladesh

University of California, Berkeley, 2007 - $20,000

In Bangladesh, naturally occurring arsenic poisons shallow drinking wells, exposing 30-70 million Bangladeshis to dangerously high levels of the toxin. Most of the people affected by arsenic are among the world’s poorest. To combat the problem, this team from UC Berkeley is developing ARUBA (Arsenic Removal Using Bottom Ash), a simple technology that effectively and affordably removes arsenic from drinking water. The team is partnered with the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), the largest NGO in Bangladesh.

The top three objectives of this grant are: (1) Technical: scale up the production of ARUBA to greater than 500g/day, transfer the knowledge required to manufacture ARUBA to collaborators in Bangladesh, and construct a bench-top, proof-of-concept prototype than can be tested in Bangladesh in summer 2008; (2) Socioeconomic: completion of a village economic assessment through creation of a survey which will be administered in Bangladesh in summer 2008; (3) Business: quantify market size and opportunities for profitability, and continue to work towards ARUBA technology licensing.

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