2015 Odebrecht Award

The winners of the fourth U.S. edition of the Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development were unveiled on October 8, 2015 at an award ceremony at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida. Filmmaker and eco-activist, Shalini Kantayya, gave an inspiring keynote speech the real-world impact that simple ideas may have in the lives of thousands.

Video: 2015 Winning Projects

Video: 2015 Winning Projects

Video: 2015 Ceremony Highlights

Video: 2015 Ceremony Highlights

2015 Winners

University of California – Riverside

1st
01

NOx-OUT: Selective Catalytic Reduction System for Emission Control of Small Off-Road Engines

Students: Anna Almario, Priyanka Singh, Alyssa Yan

Advising Professor: Kawai Tan

Executive Summary

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), small gasoline-powered off-road engines (SORE), such as lawn mowers and generators, contribute up to 20% of unhealthy pollution in many U.S. cities. These pollutants generate ground-level ozone, a compound known to cause and exacerbate respiratory ailments. To address the mounting national air quality problem, the NOx-Out device was developed as a SORE attachment to reduce such pollutants, thus, indirectly producing cleaner air for the world to breathe. The main pollutants from SOREs include nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM). The low-cost, multi application NOx-Out device includes: (i) a porous stainless steel filter that removes PM; (ii) Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology consisting of urea injection system and copper-zeolite catalyst coated on a honeycomb cordierite substrate that reduces NOx and CO to non-hazardous nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water; and (iii) fiberglass wool that muffles noise emitted by the engine. To quantify the effectiveness of NOx-Out in reducing pollutants, the device was tested on a 3.4-kW generator on which various power loads were applied to simulate the operating conditions of different types of SOREs. NOx-Out demonstrated observable reduction in harmful emission as follows: CO, NOx and PM by 11.5%, 13.4% and 45%, respectively.

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Duke University

2nd
02

Closing the Loop in Sustainable Design

Students: Megan O’Connor

Advising Professor: Desiree Plata

Executive Summary

Advanced electronics increasingly rely on specialty metals (e.g., yttrium, osmium, and indium) and rare earth elements. In addition, the consumer products tend to have short product lifetimes and low recycling rates (< 1%). Furthermore, some of the metals have established toxicities (e.g., CdSe or GaAs) and others have very poorly understood global cycles (e.g., In and Hf). These factors compound to make metal recovery in electronics waste (E-Waste) a critical need in the industry and ... for the environment. Here, we aim to build a novel technology using filters to precipitate rare earth elements and specialty metals out of E-waste to enable their direct recovery and reuse. In order to achieve this goal, we will: (1) Employ conductive filters using nanomaterials to precipitate desired metals from E-Waste, (2) Integrate these filters in a multi-stage system that can precipitate individual metals on each respective stage in series out of mixed-metal media, (3) Subsequently release relatively pure metals from each filter stage to enable reuse, and (4) Scale this technology up for real world application. This technology could offer several advantages including: enhanced recovery of high-value specialty minerals using low-cost filters, reduced need for mining Earth-rare minerals in politically unstable or environmentally undesirable locations, and reduced emissions of toxic elements or nascent industrial minerals that have yet unknown toxicities or environmental impacts.

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University of California – Berkley

3rd
03

Harnessing Wave Power

Students: Devin Bisconer, Marcus Lehmann, Victor Pucci

Advising Professor: Reza Alam

Executive Summary

The world’s energy consumption will grow by 56% between 2010 and 2040 (EIA, 2013). With the global population forecasted to increase 33% by 2050 and over 50% by 2100 (Gerland et al., 2014), the rate of world energy consumption is expected to continue to rise. Island nations and coastal communities represent nearly 40% of the world’s population and will be most susceptible to increasing energy demands (SEDAC). Our company develops an innovative technology (patented in ... Oct 2014) to harness the enormous amount of energy in ocean waves and convert it into electricity and freshwater. The core innovation of the Wave Carpet is the ability to mimic wave absorption similar to a muddy seafloor, to extract energy of waves passing overhead within only a few wavelengths. This energy drives hydraulic cylinders, which in turn create pressurized water. In the case of electricity, the Wave Carpet unit can generate 1 GWh per year in California. The high-pressure water pumped can be supplied to desalination plants. Up to 50% of the costs of desalination plants is used to generate electricity to produce high-pressure water. The Wave Carpet alleviates this cost by directly providing high-pressure water. Our company’s Wave Carpet has an estimated LCOE of $0.15-0.20/kWh, which makes it competitive with other forms of renewable energy. The simplicity, efficiency, and cost- effectiveness of the Wave Carpet make it well poised to become the standard wave energy converter technology.

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Shalini Kantayya

The Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development helps bridge the gap between the academic and corporate worlds, and find solutions that promote sustainability via the transfer and application of technology into the operational practice of business, especially in the areas where the Odebrecht Organization operates.