FLoW's 2013 Winners

First Place ($100,000): Pyro-E

Led by UC Berkeley students Pyro-E is developing a solid-state device for waste heat harvesting that is 10-times more powerful and lower in cost than existing products.

Pyro-E is looking to tap into the $32 billion US market for such waste heat recovery from fuel cell and diesel stationary generators; industrial furnaces and gas pipelines; and gasoline automobile and hybrids. In the transportation sector alone in 2012 the thermal waste from ~300 million vehicles accounted for 27% of the overall U.S. energy use. Pyro-E has established strategic partnerships with leading fuel cell and heavy equipment manufacturers for creating new energy efficient products and services.

Second Place ($40,000): Chai Energy

Chai is developing a mobile phone app that tracks home energy use, appliance by appliance, in real time.

As much as 50% of the energy used in the average American home is wasted which can result in overpaying as much as $700 a year. Chai's technology leverages utility smart meters to deliver a seamless mobile experience. The team is working with key partner Southern California Edison, to establish a one hundred home pilot with the goal of launching the product later this year. There are 40 million smart meters installed nationally and this potential market for Chai's devices is expected to grow to 65 million by 2017.

If you live in Southern California and would like to sign up for beta testing or to be notified of Chai's public launch date, please sign-up on the company's website at www.mychai.co

Third Place ($20,000): Dragonfly Systems

Dragonfly Systems, led by a five-person Stanford University team, is developing a new solar system architecture that eliminates power loss from module mismatch in large solar installations.

One contributor to the high cost of solar energy is the loss of power due to module mismatch. Mismatch occurs when some solar panels, or modules, in a system perform worse than their neighbors because of soiling, degradation, or shading. Due to the requirement for matched current in series-connected solar panels, a single underperforming panel reduces the output of all nearby panels.On large solar power plants the loss of 3-5% of electricity—and corresponding revenue-due to mismatch reduces profits by 30% and keeps solar power too expensive for many markets.

Dragonfly will target commercial and utility-scale installations which are expected to more than double to 36GW by 2017. Dragonfly will sell these power devices to module manufacturers and system installers and estimates a potential $1.8 billion market for such devices by 2017.

Transformational Idea Award ($5,000): Rare Earth Separation

Rare Earth elements are used ubiquitously in manufacture, from cell phones and energy efficient lighting to cracking catalysts for oil refining, and ultra-light materials used in aerospace. UC Berkeley's Rare Earth Separation presented a unique concept for separating rare earth elements that should generate less waste, be more selective across all the rare earth elements, and require much cheaper processing facilities. Widespread adoption could reduce the US's dependence on rare earth imports from countries such as China.