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Organic waste-powered fuel cell wins Intel science competition

Technology News |
By Rich Pell


Han Jie (Austin) Wang, 18, of Vancouver, Canada, (above) won the $75,000 Gordon E. Moore Award for his work identifying genes in E.coli bacteria to boost the efficiency of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that convert organic waste into electricity. His system can produce significantly more power than existing MFC processes at a cost that is competitive with solar energy, which he believes will make MFCs commercially viable.

The award was given at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which is the world’s largest high school science research competition. 

Syamantak Payra, 15, of Friendswood, Texas, received one of two Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards of US$50,000, for developing a low-cost electronically aided knee brace that allows an individual with a weakened leg to walk more naturally. When Payra tested his prototype with two individuals partially disabled by polio, it almost immediately restored a more natural gait and increased mobility.

Kathy Liu, 17, of Salt Lake City, Utah, received the other Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award of US$50,000 for developing an alternative battery component that could significantly improve battery performance and safety. Liu’s rechargeable battery is smaller and more lightweight, without the risk of fire inherent in lithium-ion batteries, which are used in planes, mobile phones and even hoverboards.

“Intel congratulates this year’s winners and hopes that their work will inspire other young innovators to apply their curiosity and ingenuity to today’s global challenges,” said Rosalind Hudnell, vice president in Human Resources, director of Corporate Affairs at Intel and president of the Intel Foundation. “This international science and engineering exhibition is an excellent example of what can be achieved when students from different backgrounds, perspectives and geographies come together to share ideas and solutions.”

The 2016 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair featured more than 1,700 young scientists selected from 419 affiliate fairs in 77 countries, regions and territories. In addition to the top winners, approximately 600 finalists received awards and prizes for their innovative research, including 22 “Best of Category” winners, who each received a US$5,000 prize.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2016 is funded jointly by Intel and the Intel Foundation with additional awards and support from dozens of other corporate, academic, governmental and science-focused organizations. This year, approximately US$4 million was awarded.

Related articles:
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