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National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition: Six Regional Winners Advance to Final Round

May 16, 2014 - 1:14pm

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Anticipation for the final round of the National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition is growing.   For the past two months, winners of six regional contests throughout the country have been crowned after facing intense competition and judging panels of industry and financial experts. These regional finalists will go on to compete in the third annual national competition in Washington, D.C. on June 11 and 12. 

The national competition aims to promote entrepreneurship in clean energy technologies that will boost American competitiveness, bring cutting-edge clean energy solutions to the market, and strengthen economic prosperity. Six regional organizations have received a total of $2 million over three years to host the competitions, including $100,000 in annual prizes for each regional competition’s winning team.

The following six teams will now have the opportunity to compete in the third annual National Competition, where they compete for unique technical, design, and legal assistance to help commercialize their technology. 

Western Southwest Region -- Rice Business Plan Competition run by Rice University

Ohio State University, KAir Battery

KAir Battery develops clean, energy efficient, and cost-effective large-scale stationary potassium-air (K−O2) batteries. These batteries could support renewable energy systems by storing excess power and distributing it at times of peak consumer demand. According to KAir, these batteries store generated electricity and return 98% of the input energy.

Southeastern Region -- ACC Clean Energy Challenge run by University of Maryland

Georgia Institute of Technology, Energy Internet

Energy Internet has developed a new approach and solution to address cyber and control challenges facing the power grid with a decentralized, autonomous, Internet-like control architecture and a learning control software system. This distributed control architecture is designed to help integrate significantly more renewable energy into the grid.  

Eastern Midwest Region -- Clean Energy Trust Clean Energy Challenge run by Clean Energy Trust

Michigan State University, Black Pine Engineering

Black Pine Engineering’s technology, the Woven Wheel System, is an advanced turbomachinery system composed of carbon fiber, used for retrofitting geothermal power plants. Geothermal plants waste a portion of well steam due to steam compressors that remove harmful gases. The Black Pine Engineering system replaces current plant equipment with their advanced modular compressors, and eliminating steam loss.  According to Black Pine, the technology can boost power generation at geothermal plants by 8% and increase revenue by more than $280,000 per year per well.  

Western Midwest Region -- CU Cleantech New Ventures Challenge run by University of Colorado-Boulder

University of Colorado-Boulder, Superior Ecotech

Superior Ecotech develops technology that uses algae to convert carbon dioxide waste into omega-3 oils and other useful products during the process of making beer, which lowers carbon emissions for craft brewers. The team’s long-term goal is to use its algae oils to produce clean, cost-effective, and renewable biofuels.

Northeast Region -- MIT Clean Energy Prize run by Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Unified Solar

Unified Solar developed an integrated circuit solution for maximum power point tracking at cell-level granularity, reducing energy loss for solar panels. Solar panel systems with central inverters suffer from the “Christmas tree” or “weakest link” effect—when a shaded or dirty panel reduces the output of every other panel on a string. Panels using Unified Solar’s technology effectively behave as a single “super-cell,” which solves the weakest-link challenge. Unified Solar claims its technology doubles the average energy capture for less than a third of the price of current solutions.   

Western Region -- First Look West run by California Institute of Technology

University of Houston, REEcycle

REEcycle reclaims rare earth elements from magnets in electronics, creating a sustainable supply of critical components. Rare earth elements are critical to manufacturing clean energy technologies, including wind turbines, energy-efficient lights, thin-film solar cells, and motors and batteries for electric vehicles. The company acquires used electronics from recyclers and extracts REEs using its patented solvent combined with low temperatures. REEcycle claims that its process is much less hazardous and significantly less expensive than current reclamation methods.

In the competition’s first two years, 600 teams participated in six regional competitions, and those teams have incorporated 57 startups – creating more than 120 full time jobs and attracting almost $26 million in follow-on private and public sector funding.  Register to attend the event now and learn more about the National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition.

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