2016 Create the Future Design Contest

The 2016 Create the Future Design Contest — sponsored by COMSOL, Mouser Electronics, and Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of NASA Tech Briefs) — recognized innovation in product design in seven categories: Aerospace & Defense, Automotive/Transportation, Consumer Products, Electronics, Machinery/Automation/ Robotics, Med ical, and Sustainable Technologies. In this special section, you’ll meet the Grand Prize Winner, as well as the winners and Honorable Mentions in all seven categories, chosen from over 1,100 new product ideas submitted from a record 71 countries. To view all of the entries online, visit

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Automotive, Defense, Electronics, Energy, Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels, Green Design & Manufacturing, Medical, Patient Monitoring, Machinery & Automation, Robotics


2016 Create the Future Design Contest: Grand Prize Winner

HYLIION - HYBRID TECHNOLOGY FOR SEMI-TRAILERS AND THE TRUCKING INDUSTRYThomas Healy, RF Culbertson, AJ Emanuele, Morgan Culbertson, Wilson Sa, Pam Culbertson, Chad Saylor, Len Kulbacki, Eric Weber, Adam Faris, Kim Kasee, Roger Richter, Jared King, Phil Aufdencamp, and Tim GehringHyliion, Pittsburgh, PA "The Hyliion team is honored to be the Grand Prize winner of the prestigious Create the Future Contest. It is a tremendous validation of the impact the Hyliion Intelligent Electric Drive Axle System will have on the trucking industry, and the environment." Hyliion is bringing hybrid efficiency to the trucking industry by replacing a semi-trailer’s passive axle with the Intelligent Electric Drive Axle System. The system can decrease fuel consumption and reduce emissions by capturing wasted energy and storing it in a battery pack to help propel the trailer when needed. Currently, tractor-trailers get 6.5 miles per gallon, and on average use $48,000 of fuel annually (per tractor). The trucking industry in the U.S. spends $150B per year on fuel; 6.2% of all emissions in the U.S. comes from trucks.

Posted in: Articles, Automotive, Energy, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels, Green Design & Manufacturing


2016 Create the Future Design Contest: Sustainable Technologies Category Winner

DESOLENATOR — WATER FROM SUNSHINE “Desolenator is extremely proud and thankful to all those who voted for us. We believe that the global water crisis is a serious issue, and winning recognition from a leading publication offers great support to our efforts. We will surely return to share our progress with readers over the coming years.” William Janssen, Desolenator, London, UKThe Desolenator is a water-purification technology that decontaminates water from any source using only solar energy. The technology is a very affordable ($0.005/L) “at-source” method of water purification. It offers a combination of features and capabilities that makes it extremely well suited for household use. It is GSM-mobile enabled and is data-driven through sensors, enabling service through micro mobile payment. It is eco-friendly, has a lifespan of up to 20 years, doesn’t require filters/ membranes, doesn’t drain the main’s electricity, and doesn’t expel toxic waste into the ocean. The long-term goal is to prevent the worsening of the water crisis.

Posted in: Articles, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Green Design & Manufacturing, Greenhouse Gases


Fully Premixed, Low-Emission, High-Pressure, Multi-Fuel Burner

Applications include use in aircraft, spacecraft, and heating and boilers for commercial and residential systems.NASA’s Glenn Research Center has developed a novel design for a fully premixed, high-pressure burner capable of operating on a variety of gaseous fuels and oxidizers, including hydrogen-air mixtures, with a low pressure drop. The burner provides a rapidly and uniformly mixed fuel-oxidizer mixture that is suitable for use in a fully premixed combustion regime that has the benefits of low pollutant emissions (when operated at fuel lean conditions) and freedom from harmful flashback effects, combustion instabilities, and thermal meltdown problems that are normally associated with premixed combustion systems operating at high pressures.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Aviation, Energy


Selenium Interlayer for High-Efficiency Multi-Junction Solar Cell

This technology can be commercialized for terrestrial applications such as power plants and smart grid systems.Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a low-cost, high-efficiency solar cell that uses a thin layer of selenium as the bonding material between wafers. Selenium is a semiconductor, and it is also transparent to light at photon energies below the band gap. The innovation allows a multi-junction solar cell to be developed without the constraint of lattice matching, and uses a low-cost, robust silicon wafer as the supporting bottom substrate and bottom cell. This enables a cell that is simultaneously lower in cost, more rugged, and more efficient than existing space solar cell designs. This technology has the potential to be used in next-generation solar cells in space, and it can be commercialized for terrestrial applications such as power plants and smart grid systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Solar Power


Method and Circuit for In-Situ Health Monitoring of Solar Cells in Space

Potential applications include use in diagnostics for terrestrial solar power generation systems. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio NASA’s Glenn Research Center has developed a method and apparatus for in-situ health monitoring of solar cells. The innovation is a novel approach to solar cell monitoring, as it is radiation- hard, consumes few system resources, and uses commercially available components. The system operates at temperatures from –55 to 225 °C, allowing it to reside close to the array in direct sunlight. The circuitry measures solar cell current versus voltage (I-V) curves using relatively inexpensive electronics, a single switchable +28 V power bus, and two analog-to-digital (A/D) converter channels. A single transistor is used as a variable resistive load across the cell, rather than the large resistor arrays or active current sources normally used to characterize cells. Originally developed for space, the technology can be adapted for use in terrestrial solar power generation systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy, Solar Power


Foldable and Deployable Power Collection System

The lightweight solar power array can be used in electric vehicles, portable and field-deployable power systems, and power for emergency response operations.NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is developing a lightweight space-based solar power array with a high power-to-stowed-volume and weight ratio. The system provides power to small satellites and CubeSats that are power starved, operating on extremely limited power because of the size restrictions for housing onboard power sources. The beauty of NASA’s new solar unit is in its simplicity and packaged power density. Small satellites cannot take advantage of deployable high-efficiency solar cell arrays due to their complexity and mechanical needs; the weight and volume requirements exceed what is available in small satellites and CubeSats. The new system, for example, is compact enough to provide a 3U CubeSat with ~200 Watts, or a 6U with 500 Watts of power. NASA is developing the technology and is looking for partners to license and commercialize it.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy, Solar Power, Physical Sciences


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