A team of four undergraduates in the UH Cullen College of Engineering have been named semi-finalists for the MIT Clean Energy Prize, an energy innovation competition. This is the first time that UH has been represented in the business plan challenge.
Mechanical engineering majors Mario Laposse, Eduardo Jasso, Andres Paez and John Vu developed several ideas in the category of Deployment and Infrastructure, choosing carbon sequestration as the most viable. Their company, Envir Energy, aims to solve cost assessment problems in carbon capture, transportation and storage systems by commercializing new methods in carbon sequestration.
“The issue with carbon sequestration is that a lot of the projects are underestimated or under-budgeted to attract investors,” said Laposse. “There’s a lot of technology being developed with nanomaterials that could lower the real projected cost. We can reduce the cost by researching and developing membrane-based capture methods, and we hope to provide a tool that gives companies an idea of what actual costs are.”
The top three teams in each category of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and deployment and infrastructure will receive $20,000, and out of those top three, a grand prize winner is selected. The winning team will receive $200,000 and travel to Washington D.C. to present their business plan. The winner will be announced in late April.
The UH team of engineering undergrads are the only such group to place in the semi-finals. Their competitors comprise those with PhDs, MBAs and other professionals with several years of business experience. The team plans to meet with legal, technical and entrepreneurial mentors to improve their market and technical analysis, research intellectual property and patents, and become incorporated and publicly traded.
The four team members are the founders of the UH Clean Energy Initiative, an organization established to promote collaboration between engineering and business students in clean energy issues and ideas.