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U of M student project to create a renewable fuel engine wins $10,000 prize in Dow SISCA Challenge

Runner-up receives $2,500 to pursue development of a novel storage system for offshore wind turbine energy

Monday, December 9, 2013

A student proposal to develop a renewable fuel–enabled free piston engine captured the $10,000 top prize in a Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA) competition held Thursday at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

The project, developed by College of Science and Engineering Ph.D. candidates Ke Li and Chen Zhang, was one of 12 submitted to the Dow SISCA competition at the University of Minnesota, one of 17 universities around the world participating in the program. The competition recognizes and rewards students and universities for innovation and research that encourages and promotes sustainable solutions to the world's most pressing social, economic and environmental problems. The competition was open to full time graduate and professional students enrolled at all campuses of the University of Minnesota.

Runner-up recipient Mohsen Saadat, also Ph.D. candidate in the University of Minnesota Twin Cities’ College of Science and Engineering, received $2,500 to pursue the application of a novel compressed-air storage system for offshore wind turbine energy.

Judges were from local industry and the University of Minnesota. The award provides a financial scholarship to the winning students to allow them to further pursue the development of their idea.

"We’re extremely proud of these winners and of all of the students who participated in our 2013 Dow SISCA competition," said Fred Rose, who organized the University of Minnesota competition and who directs Acara, a program for emerging social entrepreneurs that is jointly supported by IonE and the University’s College of Science and Engineering.  "Their vision and the work they put into identifying pressing sustainability challenges and innovative approaches to solving them are exemplary. We look forward to seeing where their dreams and initiative take them next."

Other finalists in the competition were:

Evgeny Beletskiy and Masoud Samet (College of Science and Engineering) – Using Nature’s Strategies to Improve Health and Preserve the Environment 

Kevin S. Lang and Jonathan B. Clayton (College of Veterinary Medicine) – Dioxin Contamination in Vietnam: Harnessing Untapped Microbial Communities for Bioremediation 

Eric Svingen (College of Science and Engineering) – Twin Fin Aquaponics

Christopher Tessum (College of Science and Engineering) – A Cloud-based Air Quality Modeling Web Application for Improved Public Health

Jeffrey Ting, PhD Chemical Engineering (College of Science and Engineering) – Design of Tunable Excipients to Enhance the Solubility and Storage of Poorly Water-Soluble Drugs

The University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment seeks lasting solutions to Earth's biggest challenges through research, partnerships and leadership development. For more information on IonE, the Dow SISCA award competition and the Acara Program, visit environment.umn.edu.

Dow sustainability winners
Ke Li and Chen Zhang, Ph.D. candidates in the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering, received a $10,000 award as first-place winners in the University’s Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA) competition Dec. 5. The two propose to develop a renewable fuel–enabled free piston engine.

Twin Cities Campus: