Eggs, fish and drinking water captured the expert judges’ imaginations at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Innovation Showcase USA this year, sponsored by The Lemelson Foundation. Three devices that improve yields or purify water in underserved communities won the US arm of the global competition in Washington, DC, on June 13th. The devices are the drinking water filter system Aguadapt, by Caminos de Agua; Kukua, a home chicken egg incubator for Tanzanian families by Kukua Labs; and WERLWind, a wind-powered aerator for small-scale aquaculture by WETech.
The three winners won a prototype pitch and presentation, competing against five other teams of inventors. The winners will share a pot of $30,000 in seed grants and receive technical support from members of ASME’s expert design and engineering community. ASME, by the way, is a founding partner of this organization, Engineering for Change, and E4C’s President Iana Aranda was an expert judge of the US arm of the competition.
A fourth prototype won the “Fan Favorite” online voting competition: Argon Power Cycle by Noble Thermodynamic Systems, a retrofitted device that improves the performance of combustion engines while capturing carbon dioxide. Mariela Machado, E4C’s Program Manager, interviewed the teams and took short videos of product pitches and demonstrations. These are iShow USA’s winners.
WERLWind pond aerator by WETech
In the whirlwind of activity at iShow, Mariela didn’t have a chance to take video of the team behind WERLWind. She did record audio of an interesting interview with Ahmed Mahmoud and Kamran Mahmudov, from WETech, which is developing the fish pond aerator. You can listen to the interview with the audio bar below.
As the team explains, there are 18 million small-scale fish farmers in Southeast Asia, comprising 90 percent of the region’s total fish farmers. They have limited access to electricity and they earn very little. Without the means to pay for aeration, disolved oxygen levels in the ponds are low and so are the fish yields. WERLWind is a wind-powered and extremely affordable aerator for small fish ponds. It can increase yields without the requirement of electricity or large financial investments.
A vertical axis wind turbine spins in any wind direction. Its motion directly operates a mixer that draws oxygen-rich water from the surface of the pond down to the oxygen-depleted bottom, and returns oxygen-depleted water on the bottom to the top where it can recharge with dissolved oxygen.
Kukua egg incubator by Kukua Labs
Kukua Labs is developing a solar-powered egg incubator for use in off-grid homes in Tanzania. The octagonal device is about the diameter of an outdoor cafe tabletop and is designed to hatch eggs more consistently than nature would allow. It can reduce the inherent volatility in egg hatching and stabilize a popular food and income stream for the roughly 70 percent of rural Tanzanian homes that raise chickens.
Nick Azpiroz at Kukua Labs explains the impetus for developing the device and shows it in the video below.
Aguadapt, a water filtration system by Caminos de Agua
The Caminos de Agua team works in Central Mexico and developed Aguadapt, a modular ceramic water filtration system. The ceramic filter can fit onto a standard plastic water jug and other water containers. It filters water as it leaves the container, removing microbes before they can enter a water glass and cause disease. The base of the filter has threads where the user can screw on a second filter designed to remove specific contaminants. Whatever materials a user places in the second filter can work to remove a known contaminant in the water, such as arsenic or lead or pesticides. Aaron Krup explains and demonstrates the device. Aaron also gives the demonstration in Spanish.
The crowd favorite: Argon Power Cycle by Noble Thermodynamic Systems
The Noble Thermodynamic team wooed the crowd and won the most online votes.
As the team explains, Argon Power Cycle is a closed-loop monatomic gas-breathing power system that increases the efficiency of internal combustion engines up to 10 percent, while capturing all of the carbon dioxide emissions. operating engines.