A Biodegradable Solution to the Global Plastic Waste Problem
Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced annually - equivalent to the entire weight of the human population. Less than 10% is recycled; most end up in landfills. A research team from the University of California Berkeley and Intropic Materials are attacking this problem from the inside out, by embedding enzymes in the plastics during manufacturing that, once triggered, cause the plastics to self-destruct and completely degrade in days. All that's left behind are small molecules that can be composted or used to make new plastics. This breakthrough technology has been awarded the Grand Prize of $25,000 in the 2021 "Create the Future" Design Contest, produced by SAE Media Group.
"I'm really honored," said Aaron Hall, Co-inventor and Founder of Intropic Materials. "At Intropic, we're making self-destructing plastics to address the challenge of plastic waste. By bringing together the natural bio machines and these synthetic materials, we can help to bring to fruition a truly circular bioeconomy."
Engineers and students from 55 countries submitted new product ideas to the contest, which was established in 2002 to recognize and reward engineering innovations that benefit humanity, the environment, and the economy. This year's contest was co-sponsored by COMSOL (www.comsol.com) and Mouser Electronics (www.mouser.com). Analog Devices and Intel were supporting sponsors.
"COMSOL is grateful for the opportunity to support innovators and their important work through the Create the Future Design Contest," said Bernt Nilsson, Senior VP of Marketing with COMSOL, Inc. "A better tomorrow is possible only if we keep an open mind and give new ideas a chance to flourish. This is exactly what the Create the Future Design Contest is doing. Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to all participants for the many great and truly innovative ideas that will help bring a brighter future."
"We are ecstatic to see the amazing ingenuity behind this year's group of Create the Future entries," says Kevin Hess, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Mouser Electronics. "Mouser offers its sincere congratulations to the winners and commends the entrants for their creative designs."
In addition to the grand prize, first-place winners were named in seven categories and received HP workstation computers:
Aerospace & Defense
How to Keep Drones Flying When a Motor Fails, without GPS
A vision-based control algorithm saves quadrotor drones from crashing after the complete loss of a motor. A fault-tolerant flight controller generates commands for safe landing without the aid of GPS.
Sihao Sun, Giovanni Cioffi, Coen de Visser, Davide Scaramuzza
University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Afreecar E-kit: Provide Sustainable and Affordable Mobility and Power for All the World's People
A briefcase-sized solar kit that is easily attached to non-motorized vehicles. The e-kit can electrify vehicles in applications such as agriculture, healthcare, urban mobility, warehouses, and campuses, offering a low-cost mobility solution in the developing world.
Chris Borroni-Bird, Rich Saad
Afreecar LLC, Rochester Hills, Michigan, United States
Aira FreePower - Advanced Wireless Power
Aira's FreePower solution overcomes the limitations of wireless charging with an advanced hardware and firmware approach that enables surface power in any size. Independently controlled charging zones enable several devices to charge simultaneously.
Jake Slatnick, Eric Goodchild, Simon McElrea, Marc Rosenmayr,
Aira Inc., Chandler, Arizona, United States
Electronics/Sensors/IoT - sponsored by Futek (www.futek.com)
Freetouch lets anyone safely interact with public displays through their own smartphone. End users snap an onscreen QR code to connect to and control the display in front of them, with no app download or signup required.
Darren David, Suzanne Hitchcock, Joe Kotas, Josh Wagoner, Stephan Winokur, Julie Yamato
Freetouch, San Francisco, California, United States
Manufacturing/Robotics/Automation - sponsored by Maplesoft (www.maplesoft.com)
Electronics-Free Soft Walking Robot
A four-legged robot that does not need electronics to work. It's controlled by a lightweight, low-cost system of pneumatic circuits made up of tubes and soft valves.
UCSD, San Diego, California, United States
Medical - sponsored by Zeus (www.zeusinc.com)
Halo Speculum - Invented by a Female for the Female
The Halo Speculum is designed to improve the most fundamental medical instrument that gynecologists use every day. The design allows the speculum to be rolled up and when placed inside, it gently expands and retracts the sidewalls.
Tamatha Fenster, M.D., M.S., FACOG, Mitchell Tung, JJ Lees
OneWorld DMG, Warren, New Jersey, United States
Sustainable Technologies/Future Energy
Multifunctional Bionanocomposite Fruit Coatings
A protein-based conformal nanocomposite coating made from readily available inexpensive or waste biomaterials that dramatically increases the shelf life of perishable foods. It offers a unique combination of properties that satisfy multiple preservation requirements such as material flexibility, edibility, washability, effectiveness, biodegradability, and appearance.
Muhammad Rahman, Sylvia Jung, Nancy Cui, Neetu Pottackal, Pulickel Ajayan
Rice University, Houston, Texas, United States
Finalists were selected by senior editors at SAE Media Group and judged by an independent panel of design engineers. For more information, visit www.createthefuturecontest.com.
COMSOL is a global provider of simulation software for product design and research to technical enterprises, research labs, and universities. Its COMSOL Multiphysics® product is an integrated software environment for creating physics-based models and simulation applications. COMSOL has 18 offices worldwide and extends its reach with a network of distributors. Visit www.comsol.com.
About Mouser Electronics
Mouser Electronics, a Berkshire Hathaway company, is an authorized semiconductor and electronic component distributor focused on New Product Introductions from its leading manufacturer partners. Serving the global electronic design engineer and buyer community, the global distributor's website, mouser.com, is available in multiple languages and currencies and features more than 5 million products from over 1,100 manufacturer brands. Mouser offers 27 support locations worldwide to provide best-in-class customer service in local language, currency and time zone. The distributor ships to over 630,000 customers in 223 countries/territories from its 1 million-square-foot, state-of-the-art distribution facilities in the Dallas, Texas, metro area. For more information, visit https://www.mouser.com/.