A team of university students has developed an additive that converts paint to a conductive coating for transportation—an invention that has netted them a $10,000 grand prize.
The winning concept, called PolyDrop, took top honors at the fifth annual Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) at the University of Washington.
The program challenges interdisciplinary student teams to "define an environmental problem, design a solution, produce a prototype, and create a business summary that demonstrates market opportunity and the potential for impact."
University of Washington
The winning team took home a $10,000 prize for PolyDrop, which transforms paint into a lightweight alternative to metal-based conductive coatings.
Contributing to a Healthier Planet
EIC is a regional competition that combines so-called "cleantech innovation" with market opportunity, according to UW. The university defines cleantech innovation as "any product, process or service that reduces waste, minimizes energy consumption, and contributes to a healthier planet."
On April 4, 20 teams from universities and colleges around the Pacific Northwest met at UW to pitch their ideas, which addressed energy, built environment, water-related problems, recycling, and urban agriculture.
Taking first place, including a $10,000 prize, was PolyDrop, by the UW group.
A total of $22,500 was awarded among five teams, and prizes ranged from $2,500 to $10,000.
PolyDrop is an additive that transforms regular paint into a conductive technology for carbon fiber composites in transportation industries. The resulting coating helps dissipate built-up static charges that can interfere with electronic systems in aircraft and vehicles.
The team developed a conductive polymer to make the additive, which can be added to existing paint in small quantities to create a lightweight alternative to metal-based conductive coatings.
According to the students' pitch: "The transportation industry is looking to move towards using light-weight carbon fiber materials to reduce fuel consumption and decrease carbon dioxide emissions. However, carbon fiber composites accumulate a static charge that will interfere with a vehicle's sensitive electronics. PolyDrop solves this problem by providing a means to dissipate static electricity with a viable conductive technology."
Supervised by Professor Danilo Pozzo, the winning team consisted of seniors Odin Jacobovitch, Scott Landro, Heather Milligan, Naomi Miyake, and Volha Hrechka.
Teams were judged on the problem they were addressing, their one-minute pitch to the judges, their prototype, and their ability to articulate the potential for environmental impact and commercial success.
The student teams were responsible for product development, including lab research, developing a business plan, and promotional materials.