2015 Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge exceeds expectations

April 22, 2015

An energy-efficient industrial mixer and a reusable to-go box won top honors at the Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge, hosted for its third year by the Wisconsin Energy Institute and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Held during the Earth Day conference at the Monona Terrace on April 20, 2015, the challenge pitted ten student teams in competition to design innovative approaches to energy-related technology and global stewardship, with $13,000 in total prize money awarded.

"Entries this year covered a wide variety of topics, making for an exciting competition for participants and judges alike," said Scott Williams, research and education coordinator for the Wisconsin Energy Institute. "In the end, the two teams that rose to the top had done an impressive amount of homework to optimize their technologies. This demonstrates a higher understanding of both the market potential and the environmental impact of their solutions."

The Dvorak Energy Innovation Prize for best energy-related technology was awarded to Eric Ronning (mechanical engineering), Will Doniger (materials science and engineering), and Brian Pekron (nuclear engineering), for the invention of the Remex Static Mixer. This mixer uses a unique design to combine chemicals or live cells in a reactor without any moving parts. Situated in a pipe or cylinder, the static mixer gently blends fluids as they flow through, using up to 33 percent less energy compared to other mixers on the market.

The winner of the Global Stewards Sustainability Prize, Serving Earth, LLC, seeks to create a more sustainable and cost-effective solution to disposable boxes at dining halls and cafeterias. Founded by political science and environmental studies student Jennifer Sharpe, the company has created a reusable to-go box made from recycled material that can be checked out from cafeterias and dropped off at convenient sites. Potential users include university dining halls and corporate cafeterias.

The Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge is a student competition aimed at advancing creative ideas in energy and environmental sustainability. The challenge combines the Dvorak Energy Innovation Prize and Global Stewards Sustainability Prize. This year’s competition was supported by the Dvorak Family, the Global Stewards Society, and the David Marca Memorial Fund for Student Energy Projects. 

An energy-efficient industrial mixer and a reusable to-go box won top honors at the 2015 Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability ChallengeThe student creators of an energy-efficient industrial mixer (left) and a reusable to-go box (right) won top honors at the 2015 Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge. Photo courtesy the Wisconsin Energy Institute.