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Concentrating solar collector earns first place in creativity, prototype competitions

Concentrating Solar Collector

Concentrating Solar Collector, first place, Schoofs Prize for Creativity and Tong Prototype Prize (large image)

An inexpensive, modular solar-energy technology that could be used to heat water and generate electricity won $12,500 and took first place in both the Schoofs Prize for Creativity and Tong Prototype Prize competitions, held Feb. 9 and 10 during Innovation Days on the UW-Madison College of Engineering campus.

In a package about the size of a small computer desk, the winning system uses a flat Fresnel lens to collect the sun's energy and focus it onto a copper block. Then a unique spray system removes the energy from the copper block and converts it into vapor, says inventor Angie Franzke, an engineering mechanics and astronautics senior from Omro, Wisconsin. The vapor either heats water for household use or powers a turbine to generate electricity.

Current solar-collection systems use mirrors configured in either a parabolic trough or dish shape to collect and reflect solar energy, says Franzke. In contrast, her invention uses a thin, flat Fresnel lens to refract energy onto a small area, increasing the device's efficiency. In addition, Franzke's spray system, which was inspired by technology developed by Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Tim Shedd, removes heat in one less step than the current method.

Self Leveling Wheelchair Tray

Self Leveling Wheelchair Tray, third place, Schoofs Prize for Creativity, and second place, Tong Prototype Prize (large image)

The OmniPresent Community-Based Response Network

The OmniPresent Community-Based Response Network, second place, Schoofs Prize for Creativity (large image)

Shedd's course, "Elementary Heat Transfer," piqued Franzke's interest in renewable technologies. Now, after she earns her bachelor's degree in December, she hopes to attend graduate school and continue improving her invention via her research.

While the competition gave her the opportunity, with Shedd's encouragement, to pursue her idea, it also taught Franzke something about how to build it. “I had never machined before,” she says. “That's a skill I think is very useful. Also, prototyping is very integral to the design process. You didn't know if something would work until you tried it.”

Hand-Righter

Hand-Righter, fourth place (tie), Schoofs Prize for Creativity (large image)

Universal Defibrillator Adapter

Universal Defibrillator Adapter, fourth place (tie), Schoofs Prize for Creativity (large image)

The invention and prototyping competitions featured 16 teams comprised of 52 students. Judges awarded prizes to those student ideas and inventions they deemed most innovative and most likely to succeed in the marketplace.

Other Schoofs Prize for Creativity winners include:

 

  • Second place and $7,000 — William Gregory Knowles, for the OmniPresent Community-Based Response Network, a personal, business or industrial security system that draws on networked users and devices to more efficiently verify burglar alarms, fire alarms or medical emergencies.
  • Third place and $4,000 — Garret Fitzpatrick, Jon Oiler, Angie Franzke, Peter Kohlhepp and Greg Hoell for the Self-Leveling Wheelchair Tray, a stowable working surface for wheelchairs that self-levels, even when the wheelchair is tilted or reclined up to a 45-degree angle.
  • Fourth place and $1,000 (tie) — Emily Prewett, Jesse Gudmundson, Brian Shanley and Brian Boeckmann for The Hand-Righter, a device that makes it easier for people who suffer from a variety of hand tremors to grip and write with a pen or pencil.
  • Fourth place and $1,000 (tie) — Brad Hotle, Josh Rocholl, Tim Riley, Brad Schultz and Shawn Enright for the Universal Defibrillator Adapter, a connective piece that enables emergency medical responders and healthcare staff to attach virtually any brand of defibrillator to virtually any brand of defibrillator electrode pad.
Easy Quench

Easy Quench, third place, Tong Prototype Prize (large image)

Other Tong Prototype Prize winners include:

 

  • Second place and $1,250 — Garret Fitzpatrick, Jon Oiler, Angie Franzke, Peter Kohlhepp and Greg Hoell for the Self-Leveling Wheelchair Tray.
  • Third place and $700 — Kyle Jansson for Easy Quench, a hydration system for outdoor enthusiasts that draws on pressurized air, rather than the user's suction, to push water out of the bladder and into the user's mouth.

In addition, Nick O'Brien, William Leffert and Dan Kuehn received the $1,000 Younkle Best Presentation Award for their inventions, the FlexiGobo and Light Target, both accessories that add additional features, including projected images and accuracy of placement, to theatrical lighting design without replacing conventional lighting fixtures. Matthew Younkle, a competition alumnus and current president of Y Innovation, LLC, and president and CTO of Laminar Technologies, LLC, sponsors the award.

FlexiGobo Light Target

FlexiGobo and Light Target, Younkle Best Presentation Award (large image)

Biomass Shredder

Biomass Shredder. Sorenson Design Notebook Award awarded to Tim Miller (center) (large image)

Tim Miller received the $1,000 Sorenson Design Notebook Award for his group's invention, the Biomass Shredder. With applications in countries such as Rwanda, Africa, where deforestation affects wood availability for fuel, the invention is a bicycle-powered device that shreds surplus biomass, resulting in quicker decomposition of organic waste that subsequently can be composted and pressed into fuel briquettes. Competition alumnus Chad Sorenson, a founding principal of Sologear Corp. and founder of Fluent Systems, LLC, sponsors the award.

Chemical engineering alumnus Richard J. Schoofs sponsors the Schoofs Prize for Creativity; Electrical and Computer Engineering alumnus Peter P. Tong (via the Tong Family Foundation) sponsors the Tong Prototype Prize.

 

 

WINNERS

Schoofs Prize for Creativity

 

  • First place and $10,000 — Concentrating Solar Collector for Direct Vapor Generation, Water Heating and Electricity Generation
  • Second place and $7,000 — OmniPresent Community-Based Response Network
  • Third place and $4,000 — Self-Leveling Wheelchair Tray
  • Fourth place (tie) and $1,000 — The Hand-Righter
  • Fourth place (tie) and $1,000 — Universal Defibrillator Adapter

Tong Prototype Prize

 

  • First place and $2,500 — Concentrating Solar Collector for Direct Vapor Generation, Water Heating and Electricity Generation
  • Second place and $1,250 — Self-Leveling Wheelchair Tray
  • Third place and $700 — Easy Quench

Younkle $1,000 Best Presentation Award

 

  • FlexiGobo and Light Target

Sorenson $1,000 Design Notebook Award

 

  • Tim Miller (Biomass Shredder)

 

Archive
2/10/2006