Twisting & Shouting for Clean Energy

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) in partnership with American-Made Challenges recently announced the names of 225 teams from 117 schools that will compete in the EnergyTech University Prize (EnergyTech UP) 2024 Student Track. Now entering its third year of competition, the EnergyTech Student Prize asks collegiate teams to develop actionable plans for business and commercialization opportunities around high-potential energy technologies. 

The University of Maryland (UMD) will be represented by the flexWEC team, led by first year UMD Mechanical Engineering graduate student, Ezekiel Salvo. The flexWEC, designed by engineers at NREL, provides an excellent opportunity for reliable, adaptable and accessible renewable energy generation. As over 50% of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of coastline, the wave energy captured by flexWEC is easily transmitted to communities and businesses in need. The technology uses dielectric elastomer generators that take advantage of the piezoelectric effect, a material phenomenon where mechanical stresses and strains are converted to an electric current. The result is improved power generation, less maintenance, and carbon-free electricity generation, helping to boost energy security.

Salvo learned of the EnergyTech University Prize competition from an announcement by the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute and thought this would be a great opportunity to gain exposure to the national labs and learn more about marine energy technologies.

Said Salvo, “I first heard about marine energy technologies in ENME701 (Sustainable Energy & Environment), and was immediately captivated by the idea of harnessing the ocean's motion for usable power. I'm excited for the opportunity to positively represent UMD, and potentially win some prize money!"

Teams will compete for more than $400,000 in cash prizes through three phases––Explore, Refine, and Pitch––with Bonus Prize winners also being selected along the way. The first phase will culminate in regional Explore Events on February 27th, where teams will present their proposals to a panel of judges in the hopes of being selected as a finalist.  

Finalists will be notified approximately two weeks later, and are provided exclusive mentorship to help students refine their ideas throughout February and March. The finalists will pitch their complete business plan as part of Zpryme’s 2024 Energy Thought Summit in Austin, Texas on April 15, 2024.

Published February 9, 2024