Project Green Challenge: Fostering innovations for green sustainability

Article By : Stephen Las Marias

The inaugural Project Green Challenge encourages engineers, students, and startups in Asia to join the call to develop innovations geared toward green sustainability.

To encourage engineering students and the academe, engineers, and startups and in Asia to join the call to develop innovations geared toward green sustainability, AspenCore, the publisher of EE Times Asia/Taiwan and EDN Asia/Taiwan, launched the inaugural Project Green Challenge, a program aimed at promoting innovative product developments, academic research, design technologies and processes with green engineering elements, and green technology solutions or products, that are in line with the requirements of the world’s sustainability goals.

Project Green Challenge was held in conjunction with EE Awards Asia 2022 and the EE Tech Summits, a conference focused on topics ranging from energy sustainability and smart vehicles to materials science and communication networks, with a focus on developing a greener future through next-generation technologies. EE Tech Summits featured speakers from Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy, Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), Merck, Ericsson, Cadence Design Systems Inc., NXP Semiconductors, Texas Instruments Inc., STMicroelectronics, Sintrones, Chines AI, and Macronix International Co. Ltd.

Project Green Challenge was divided into two group categories: the Social Group, which included businesses, NGOs, government organizations, social enterprises, and community groups, and the Campus Group, which included all university teachers and students.

There were two rounds to determine the finalists and winners: the first round included online voting by users and readers of EE Times Asia/Taiwan and EDN Asia/Taiwan, while the second round was a final pitch onsite featuring the 10 finalists presenting their projects and answering questions from judges.

Panel of judges at the inaugural Project Green Challenge.

For the awards, the top three teams from each group (Social and Campus) will win the “Featured Green” awards, with the first place receiving a reward of US$3,000 and a certificate. The second and third highest-scoring teams will each be given a reward of US$2,000 and a certificate.

There will also be a “Greenness Award” in each group, the winners of which will receive a prize of US$1,000 and a certificate. One team in each group will also receive the “Spotlight Award”, which comes with a prize of US$500 and a certificate.

Finally, in cooperation with Mouser Electronics, Nordic Semiconductor, Materials Analysis Technology Inc. (MA-TEK), Niko-Sem, Chroma ATE Inc., LeadTrend Technology Corp., NXP Semiconductors, and Tektronix, outstanding teams will also be selected for Enterprise Awards, which come with prizes of $2,000 and $1,000, as well as development boards.

Overwhelming response

Project Green Challenge received an overwhelming response, with about a hundred teams from the academe, and engineering and startup communities submitting creative proposals with green engineering design elements, such as energy savings, higher efficiencies, lower power consumption, and more-compact designs, covering a wide variety of applications such as Internet of Things (IoT), renewable energy, and smart industry/agriculture, to name a few.

Going through the primary selection and re-selection by the online readers and subscribers of EE Times Asia/Taiwan and EDN Asia/Taiwan, five teams from the Social Group and the Campus Group were selected as finalists, for the onsite final pitch held last December 8 at Dazhi Denwell in Taipei, Taiwan.

Finalists from the Social Group, together with the panel of judges.

For the Social Group, finalists who presented their projects live included High Performance Solution Ltd (Direct Thermal Charging Cell); UNP Energy​ (Sustainable Solar Power Solution for IoT System); Seeing Display Technology (Super-Energy-Saving (SES) Smart Window); Ju-Tian Cleantech Co. Ltd (JCPFM Biocycle Materials Technology); and PanelSemi Corp. (110inch Flexible AM Mini LED Display).

Finalists from the Campus Group, with the judges.

For the Campus Group, finalists included NTU’s Sustainable King (Green-assisted Microplasma Generated Quantum Dots from Plastic-base Material”; Insighters (Precious Metal Separator); Fruits Cake (Bio-ethanol Generator); Repellent (Repel Mice Mint Potted Plant); and GreenerMoreEfficient (Portable Power Supplier).

Best of the best

With its project Direct Thermal Charging Cell (DTCC), High Performance Solution Ltd clinched the first place under the Social Group. DTCC is an invention that enables a heat-to-electricity conversion efficiency (η) over 5% at a low-grade heat regime (>40% of Carnot efficiency ηc), surpassing all existing direct energy conversion systems.

High Performance Solution discussing their Direct Thermal Charging Cell project.

The team currently has two applications: in HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems for harvesting low-grade heat from compressors and condensers, and in window frames for harvesting solar thermal energy to power smart window devices, such as electrochromic window, during hot weather.

Integrating the DTCC with HVAC systems and smart windows helps improve the energy efficiency of buildings, which is critical to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, and promises potential economic and environmental benefits. The group is currently looking for new opportunities and collaborations for body-heat technologies and self-powered devices using their DTCC technology.

The second place went to UNP Energy​ for its Sustainable Solar Power Solution. Founded in 2019, UNP Energy focuses on providing solar solution with high-efficiency black crystal solar panel and power management system for IoT products. The group’s technology has already been adopted in a Solar E-ink Bus Stop and Solar Smart Parking Post, which have already achieved large-scale adoption in Asia from 2020 to 2022.

UNP Energy’s Sustainable Solar Power Solution ranked second place in the Social Category.

Meanwhile, in the third place is Seeing Display Technology, whose Super-Energy-Saving (SES) Smart Window only need to be energized one time to maintain shading or transparency for at least 60 days—as compared to a traditional PDLC smart windows that must be energized all the time to maintain transparency. The company’s memory-type energy-saving smart windows feature two key core technologies: unique liquid crystal formulation and roll-to-roll process. Seeing Display Technology claims to be the first company worldwide that can produce memory-type smart window films, which are used in smart window building materials, transportation, and defense.

Receiving the “Greenness Award” is Ju-Tian Cleantech’s JCPFM Biocycle Materials Technology. Ju-Tian Cleantech turns agricultural waste into eco-friendly products through innovative technologies, while reducing carbon emissions and energy wastage, and promoting new alternatives for the petroleum plastic industry to operate a sustainable business.

Finally, the winner of the Spotlight Award for the Social Group is PanelSemi, whose 110-inch flexible display is considered the lightest (13kg) and thinnest (1mm) flexible display over 100in currently on the market. According to the company, the display area does not heat up and energy consumption reaches a 140W/m2—making it the most power-efficient display of the same class of products. The system helps reduce carbon emissions as it does not high-power air conditioning.

PanelSemi presenting their 110-inch flexible display.

In the Campus Group category, NTU’s Sustainable King​ ranked first place for its “Green-assisted Microplasma Generated Quantum Dots from Plastic-base Material” project. This team from the National Taiwan University’s Department of Chemical Engineering, with the scholarship support from the Zhongding Group, were able to develop a process to convert plastic into graphene quantum dots using microplasma.

NTU’s Sustainable King ranked first place for their “Green-assisted Microplasma Generated Quantum Dots from Plastic-base Material” project.

The Insighters team from the National Taipei University of Technology received the second-place award for its “Precious Metal Separator” project. Targeting e-wastes, such as motherboards and circuit boards of waste electronics devices, the team developed a precious metal material sorting machine that features a high screening rate to obtain precious metals and conductors from the said e-wastes for reuse.

The Insighters team from the National Taipei University of Technology received the second-place award for its “Precious Metal Separator” project.

In third place is the Fruits Cake team from the National Taipei University of Education and their Bio-ethanol Generator. The system converts waste crops from the farm into bioethanol fuel, which can help reduce carbon emissions from farm vehicles.

The Fruits Cake team from the National Taipei University of Education discussing the idea behind their Bio-ethanol Generator.

Receiving the Greenness Award is the Repellent team from the Ming Chi University of Technology (MCUT), who developed a simple mechanism that can help rodent repellent and farming.

Last but not least, GreenerMoreEfficient from the National Chung Hsing University has received the Spotlight Award for its Portable Power Supplier project, a miniaturized and portable version of bulky power supplies.

 

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