Mario Avila (left), Hayden Cardiff (center), and Thomas Healy of Hyliion have developed an add-on hybrid module for tractor trailers that is installed underneath the trailer and is estimated to have a fuel savings upwards of 30%. | <em>Photo courtesy of Hyliion</em>

This past Saturday, the student team Hyliion from Carnegie Mellon University took home the DOE Clean Tech Prize at a regional contest for the Energy Department’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition.

Forty-two teams from universities around the world competed in front of more than 275 judges for nearly $1.5 million in prizes at the prestigious Rice Business Plan Competition in Houston. The student teams were selected from more than 400 entrants in four categories: life sciences; information technology/Web/mobile; energy/clean technology/sustainability; and other. The teams worked over several months developing and pitching their business plans, a process that culminated at the three-day event.

Hyliion won the top DOE student prize of $50,000 for its SMART Suspension System, an add-on hybrid module for tractor-trailers that captures otherwise wasted energy to reduce fuel consumption by 30 percent. The system stores the energy lost while braking and coasting down hills to power the truck’s acceleration, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Semi-finalists included last year's Clean Energy Challenge student runner up team AMPY.

Hyliion won third place in the overall Rice Business Plan Competition and a total of $162,000 in prizes. In addition to the top DOE prize, Hyliion was awarded SURGE Accelerator’s $80,000 Most Innovative Energy Tech Startup Prize, the $15,000 Wells Fargo Clean Energy Innovation Prize, and the $10,000 Shell Technology Ventures Energy Prize.

After winning the DOE Clean Tech Prize, Hyliion will now join FGC Plasma Solutions—winner of the Clean Energy Challenge—at the fourth annual DOE National Competition in Washington, D.C., on June 24. At the National Competition, finalists from five regional competitions will compete for a $50,000 cash prize and unique in-kind services to help commercialize their technologies.

The National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition aims to promote entrepreneurship in clean energy technologies that will boost American competitiveness, bring cutting-edge solutions to the market, and strengthen our economic prosperity. Previous competitors have gone on to launch more than 70 start-ups, create 120 jobs, file 55 patents and disclosures, and raise $60 million in follow-on funding.

Check the EERE Blog for updates on the remaining regional contests.