VentureWell Award Helps Student Researchers Market Wastewater-Treatment Technology

Achievement date: 
2016
Outcome/accomplishment: 

Student researchers into wastewater-treatment technology received a $5,000 VentureWell E-team award for their ElectroSan system. The award provides funding for immersive workshops and specialized coaching to help the students proceed with more competition and market their inventions under the sponsorship of the Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Re-inventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt), an NSF-funded center with its headquarters at Stanford University.

Impact/benefits: 

Besides helping the students prepare for the next round of competition, the award helps encourage their technology’s application in rapidly-growing megacities. The team has begun to develop links to entrepreneurs in Dakar, Senegal, who are interested in applying the technology to recover nutrients from their network of waste-collection stations.

Explanation/Background: 

ReNUWIt researchers Will Tarpeh and Ileana Wald received the award from VentureWell, formerly known as the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, for their ElectroSan technology. The $5,000 funds immersive workshops and specialized coaching to student STEM innovators to help them prepare for a second phase of competition while also preparing their technology for the marketplace.

ElectroSan recovers nutrients from wastewater, with the recovered resource providing income to support distributed-sanitation efforts while providing less-expensive, local fertilizers. Deployment of this approach could improve public health and advance development activities for millions of people worldwide. Creating a business plan and competing for funding also provided ReNUWIt students with valuable experience in moving technologies into practical applications.