In June 2017, Professor Ernesto Julio Calvo won the DSM Bright Minds Challenge for Inquimae. Traditionally, lithium - the lifeblood of battery technology - is available through one source and one source only: extraction from giant salt lakes or ‘flats. It’s a very slow process that wastes millions of gallons of water while releasing sodium chloride and magnesium sulfate waste into the air and soil. Or at least, it was. Ernesto’s revolutionary electrochemical method uses solar power to extract the lithium…but with zero environmental impact.
Alright folks. You understand that if the world transitions to 100% renewable energy fast enough, the worst effects of climate change can be headed off, right? Now, we are going to tell you a little bit more about the Bright Minds Challenge and the different brilliant submissions we have received. In fact, we have identified key themes emerging from the submissions that could deliver significant societal and environmental benefits.
Check them out below. The themes will help you find your favorite and cast your vote.
2. Healthy communities:
We often take health for granted and we are wrong. We need to make sure everyone has access to things like clean water, medical supplies, healthy nutrition etc. SOLAIR, Solar Ear, Tenkiv, MG Energy Systems, World Food Programe Colombia
This is not about your usual crowded Monday morning bus or stinky subway. We are talking about cool, innovative, environmentally friendly transportation. Solar Boat Twente, Clean2Antarctica
5. Social inclusion and connectivity:
Support unconnected communities which may be remote or damaged due to crisis or natural disaster. Cellulike Tanzania, Innovative Power Consultants, SOL SciTech, Secvitel, LUCI by MPOWERD, SUNSALUTER, Liter of Light - MyShelter Foundation
6. Force of nature:
Simulating nature and making smart use of the Earth’s incredible natural characteristics and attributes, can help protect our planet and make our lives more sustainable. Enetion, ENVIRO by Wibicom, INQUIMAE and University of Buenos Aires, Carbon Negative Water Solutions, Swedish Algae Factory, Blue Battery by Aquabattery, CRUX Engineering
8. Affordable and efficient:
Refining materials or enhancing existing systems to store more or produce more usable output making processes more accessible, affordable and efficient. Unitenrg.com, Fast Development, EndeF - ECOMESH, Sunrayker, Cumulus Energy Storage, United Sun, Systems, Triple Solar, ALCOR Energy Contracting, Hatem Essaddam, Building Science Innovators
We know what you are thinking now. It’s very difficult to make a choice. Feels like having to choose between a cupcake and a macaron. Tough one. That’s why we encourage you to spend some time exploring all solutions.
Only 10 solutions will go through to the next round of the Challenge – to face the judges and have a chance at winning over $100,000 worth of tailored support. Remember, we want to make sure you select a solution based on the impact it will have on society rather than technical elements that require a science degree. So please ask yourself: which solution do you think is the most-ready to scale?