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Elite Eight Plus Two Announced in $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge, Will Vie to Reach Final Four

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Eric Schurr
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COLLEGE PARK, Md.—The $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge, a new business plan competition supported by the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) encouraging students from universities in the southeastern United States to develop business plans for new clean energy companies, today announces its Elite Eight Plus Two, eight winners from eight different ACC schools and two winners from the at-large non-ACC pool of entrants. 

The Elite Eight Plus Two will compete first to advance to the Final Four and then for a $100,000 grand prize at the $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge Finals, held at the University of Maryland Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on April 25, 2012. The winner also will move on to compete in the DOE National Clean Energy Business Plan Finals in Washington, D.C., in summer 2012.

The ACC Elite Eight Plus Two, listed after the technologies they are developing, include:

  • Zonal Cooling for Reduced Air Conditioning Compressor Energy Consumption
    AMat (Clemson University) is developing thermoelectric technologies to improve vehicle fuel efficiency and reduce energy consumption in the cooling of commercial building workspaces.

  • Efficient Biogas from Food Waste
    Biodomes Inc. (University of Miami) is developing technologies to convert human food waste into biogas coupled with an efficient byproduct disposal system.

  • Micro-Gas Turbines for Off-Grid Power Generation
    Dynamo Micropower (Duke University) is developing a novel ultra-micro gas turbine architecture to provide a miniaturized power plant for off-grid power generation.

  • Energy Capture and Reuse for School Buses
    EcoAssists (Georgia Tech) is developing a hybrid vehicle technology for school buses that captures and reuses energy using clean hydraulic fluid power.

  • Fun, Affordable Home Energy Automation
    GreenStar (Virginia Tech) is developing an affordable, modular and fun solution for energy management and home automation

  • Energy-Scavenging iPhone Cases for Long-Term Power
    PowerUP Inc. (North Carolina State University) is developing iPhone cases that scavenge renewable energy and manage and extend the devices' battery life.

  • Flexible Lithium Batteries
    SafeLiCell (University of Maryland) is developing a novel, patent-pending battery electrolyte material, called Lithium Flex, that provides for a lighter, safer, and flexible lithium based energy source.

  • Next-Generation Lubricants for Efficient Power Generation
    Synco Energy (University of Virginia) is developing novel lubricants for power generators that dramatically increase their efficiency and reliability.

  • Precision Manufacturing for Lithium Ion Batteries
    Mesdi Systems Inc. (University of Central Florida) is developing precision manufacturing modules for lithium ion batteries that could increase production capacities and reduce costs.

  • Microbial Fuel Cells for Marine Sensors
    Mud Power Inc. (University of South Florida) is developing microbial fuel cells to continuously power ongoing marine sensor platforms for applications such as port security, environmental monitoring, and tsunami early detection systems.

The finals will also feature keynote speakers Kate Brass, Ecomagination Program Manager at GE Energy, and Henry Kelly, Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Sponsors of the $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge include: BechtelFish & Richardson P.C.Lockheed MartinNixon Peabody LLPSAIC, and Smart Energy News.

As part of the Obama Administration's effort to support and empower the next generation of American clean energy entrepreneurs, the Department of Energy awarded $360,000 for the ACC Clean Energy Challenge and a total of $2 million to the ACC and five additional regions in the U.S. as part of its inaugural nationwide network of student-focused clean energy business plan competitions over the next three years.

Additional regional winners included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Northeast Region; the California Institute of Technology in the Western Region; Rice University in the Western Southwest Region; Chicago-based Clean Energy Trust in the Eastern Midwest Region; and the University of Colorado in the Western Midwest Region.
The University of Maryland's Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) was selected as the principal lead for the Southeast competition.

For more information and to register to attend the finals, visit:

About Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland educates the next generation of entrepreneurs, creates successful ventures, and connects Maryland companies with university resources to help them succeed. UMD is ranked as one the nation's top schools for entrepreneurship and innovation as a result of 25 years of collaborative effort from the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship in the Robert H. Smith School of Business and the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) in the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Highlights include: three experiential entrepreneurship learning programs and 30 entrepreneurship and innovation courses serving more than 1,200 students at the pre-college, undergraduate, graduate and executive education levels; monthly entrepreneur office hours and mentoring/pitch programs with experienced entrepreneurs-in-residence; a global entrepreneurship program with partnerships in China and Israel; a technology incubator/accelerator startup program with more than 100 graduates including billion dollar companies such as Martek Biosciences and Digene; and an on-campus angel network of more than 40 active, accredited angel investors and venture capitalists for early-stage capital. UMD has had a $25.7 billion impact on the Maryland economy and helped create or retain more than 5,300 jobs. Top-selling products such as MedImmune’s Synagis®, which protects infants from a deadly respiratory disease, and Hughes Communications’ HughesNet®, which brings satellite-based, high-speed Internet access to the world, were developed through or enhanced by UMD programs.
About the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
The DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Learn more about DOE’s efforts to promote a new generation of energy entrepreneurs at:

About the A. James Clark School of Engineering

The University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering is a premier program, ranked among the top 20 in the world. Located just a few miles from Washington, D.C., the Clark School is at the center of a constellation of high-tech companies and federal laboratories, offering students and faculty access to unique professional opportunities.

Our broad spectrum of academic programs, including the world’s only accredited undergraduate fire protection engineering program, is complemented by a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, early hands-on educational experiences, and participation in national and international competitions.

The Clark School is leading research advancements in aerospace, bioengineering, robotics, nanotechnology, disaster resilience, energy and sustainability, and cybersecurity. From the universal product code to satellite radio, SMS text messaging to the implantable insulin pump, our students, faculty, and alumni are engineering life-changing innovations for millions. Learn more at



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