“Self-destructing plastic” wins first prize in the Create the Future competition
A biodegradable solution to the global problem of plastic waste
Over 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year, equivalent to the total weight of the human population. Less than 10% is recycled; most end up in landfills. A research team from the University of California at Berkeley and Intropic Materials are tackling this problem from the inside out, by incorporating enzymes into plastics during manufacturing that, when triggered, cause the problem to occur. self-destruction and complete degradation of plastics within days. There are only small molecules left that can be composted or used to make new plastics. This revolutionary technology received the grand prize of $ 25,000 in the 2021 “Create the Future” design competition, produced by SAE Media Group.
“I am truly honored,” said Aaron Hall, co-inventor and founder of Intropic Materials. “At Intropic, we make self-destructing plastics to meet the plastic waste challenge. By bringing together natural biomachines and these synthetic materials, we can help make a real circular bioeconomy a reality.
Engineers and students from 55 countries submitted new product ideas to the competition, which was established in 2002 to recognize and reward technical innovations that benefit humanity, the environment and the economy. This year’s competition was co-sponsored by COMSOL (www.comsol.com) and Mouser Electronics (www.mouser.com). Analog Devices and Intel supported the sponsors.
“COMSOL is grateful for the opportunity to support innovators and their important work through the Create the Future design competition,” said Bernt Nilsson, Senior Vice President of Marketing at COMSOL, Inc. “A Better Future n It’s possible if we keep an open mind and give new ideas a chance to flourish. This is exactly what the Create the Future design competition does. Congratulations to all of the winners and thank you to all of the participants for the many great and truly innovative ideas that will help create a better future. “
“We are thrilled to see the incredible ingenuity behind this year’s Create the Future pool of nominations,” said Kevin Hess, senior vice president of marketing at Mouser Electronics. “Mouser offers his sincere congratulations to the winners and congratulates the participants on their creative designs.”
In addition to the grand prize, the first place winners were named in seven categories and received HP workstation computers:
Aerospace and Defense
How to fly drones when an engine fails, without GPS
A vision-based control algorithm prevents quadcopter drones from crashing after a complete loss of an engine. A fault tolerant flight controller generates commands for a safe landing without the aid of GPS.
Sihao Sun, Giovanni Cioffi, Coen de Visser, Davide Scaramuzza
University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Automotive / Transport
Afreecar E-kit: Providing sustainable and affordable mobility and electricity to all inhabitants of the world
A briefcase-sized solar kit that easily attaches to non-motorized vehicles. The electronic kit can electrify vehicles in applications such as agriculture, healthcare, urban mobility, warehouses and campuses, providing a low cost mobility solution in the developing world.
Chris Borroni-Bird, Rich Saad
Afreecar LLC, Rochester Hills, Michigan, USA
Aira FreePower – Advanced wireless power supply
Aira’s FreePower solution overcomes the limitations of wireless charging with an advanced hardware and firmware approach that enables surface power of any size. Independently controlled charging zones allow multiple devices to charge simultaneously.
Jake Slatnick, Eric Goodchild, Simon McElrea, Marc Rosenmayr,
Aira Inc., Chandler, Arizona, USA
Electronics / Sensors / IoT – sponsored by Futek (www.futek.com)
Freetouch allows anyone to securely interact with public screens via their own smartphone. End users grab an onscreen QR code to log in and control the display in front of them, with no app downloads or registration 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)
Flexible walking robot without electronics
A four-legged robot that doesn’t need electronics to operate. It is controlled by a light and inexpensive system of pneumatic circuits made up of flexible tubes and valves.
UCSD, San Diego, California, United States
Medical – sponsored by Zeus (www.zeusinc.com)
Halo speculum – Invented by a woman for the woman
The Halo Speculum is designed to enhance the most basic medical device that gynecologists use every day. The design allows the speculum to be rolled up and when placed inside it gently expands and retracts the side walls.
Tamatha Fenster, MD, MS, 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 inexpensive biomaterials or readily available waste that dramatically increases the shelf life of perishable foods. It offers a unique combination of properties that satisfy multiple storage requirements such as material flexibility, edibility, washability, efficiency, biodegradability and appearance.
Muhammad Rahman, Sylvia Jung, Nancy Cui, Neetu Pottackal, Pulickel Ajayan
Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA
The finalists were selected by the editors of SAE Media Group and judged by an independent panel of design engineers. For more information, visit www.createthefuturecontest.com.
COMSOL is a global supplier of simulation software for the design and research of products for technical companies, research laboratories and universities. Its COMSOL Multiphysics® product is an integrated software environment for building physics-based simulation models and applications. COMSOL has 18 offices around the world and is expanding its reach with a network of distributors. Visit www.comsol.com.
About Mouser Electronics
Mouser Electronics, a Berkshire Hathaway company, is an authorized distributor of semiconductors and electronic components focused on new product launches from its major manufacturing partners. Serving the global community of electronics design engineers and buyers, the global distributor’s website, mouser.com, is available in multiple languages and currencies and features more than 5 million products from more than 1,100 manufacturer brands. Mouser offers 27 support sites around the world to provide top-notch customer service in the local language, currency and time zone. The distributor delivers to more than 630,000 customers in 223 countries / territories from its state-of-the-art 1 million square foot distribution facilities in the Dallas, Texas, metropolitan area. For more information, visit https://www.mouser.com/.