Dean’s Challenge: innovative solutions in the water, on land, and in the air

On Friday 26 October, the Nova students' association held the final of their case competition Dean’s Challenge at Science and Technology for the fourth time. Over 29 days, students had developed innovative solutions to three different cases to help achieve three of the UN Global Development Goals.

2018.11.01 | Hanna Bak Andersen

Team ProBio Baby: Niels Hvenegaard Hinrichsen and Kristian Skriver Andersen together with the dean, Kim Andkjaer Harrit from Dupont and a Nova representative (photo: Hanna Bak Andersen)

Team ProBio Baby: Niels Hvenegaard Hinrichsen and Kristian Skriver Andersen together with the dean, Kim Andkjaer Harrit from Dupont and a Nova representative (photo: Hanna Bak Andersen)

Team Water of Good Hope: Jasmine D. Baets, Jaime G. Gracia and Diogo S. Martins, the dean, Maria Würtz Nielsen from Grundfos and a Nova representative (photo: Hanna Bak Andersen)

Team Water of Good Hope: Jasmine D. Baets, Jaime G. Gracia and Diogo S. Martins, the dean, Maria Würtz Nielsen from Grundfos and a Nova representative (photo: Hanna Bak Andersen)

Team Wind2Water: Kim J. Paulsen, Janus Kramer Møller and Tiffany Williams together with the dean, Martin Dam Sørensen from Vestas and a Nova representative (photo: Hanna Bak Andersen)

Team Wind2Water: Kim J. Paulsen, Janus Kramer Møller and Tiffany Williams together with the dean, Martin Dam Sørensen from Vestas and a Nova representative (photo: Hanna Bak Andersen)

Half an hour before the start of the final, the first finalists quietly began slipping into the cool auditorium. The temparature rose as more expectant participants packed the auditorium. To mark the occasion, the boys had swapped t-shirts for smart shirts and the girls had changed from their sneakers into shoes. Tensions rose and there was an eerie quiet. A hushed whispering could be heard now and then among the finalists, like the gentle rustling of the autumn leaves outside. A nervous finalist fiddled impatiently with his USB chip before handing it over to Nova. As the start of the final approached, the finalists fell into conversation with new friends and acquaintances. This time they weren’t talking about calculus or quantum physics, but instead their conversations dealt with innovation and entrepreneurship.

The jury consisted of Dean Niels Christian Nielsen, Martin Dam-Sørensen from Vestas, Maria Würtz Nielsen from Grundfos, Kim Andkjaer Harrit from Dupont and Mikkel Trym, who has vast experience with entrepreneurship and start-ups. The judges' difficult task was to select the three best solutions to the three cases the finalists had been asked to work on. The first case was from Dupont Nutrition and Health, who work on innovative solutions in the food industry, and it addressed how probiotics can reduce infant mortality in developing countries. The case from the water pump manufacturer Grundfos was to secure more clean water for Cape Town, which is currently experiencing serious water shortages. Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas had a case about using wind energy to create value for an isolated community. 
Last Friday, the hopeful finalists stood ready to pitch their solutions to the astute jury in their endeavour to win the first prize of DKK 10,000 (EUR 1,300).

The main goal is to save lives

Probio Baby confidently pitched themselves to victory in the Dupont case with their clear message; "The main goal is to save lives". The students behind ProBio Baby, Niels Hvenegaard Hinrichsen and Kristian Skriver Andersen, had developed a bottle to store probiotics. Probiotics are a dietary supplement containing micro-organisms, corresponding to those we have in our intestines, and they have to be stored in a bottle that can withstand high temperatures and ensure a healthy environment. Probiotics are released into sterilized water by pressing down on the bottle lid, after which the contents are ready to drink. In India 27.7 babies out of every 1,000 die within their first 28 days, compared with only 2.5 in Denmark. Probiotics can help to reduce infant mortality, and that's what ProBio Baby hope they can do with their bottle.   

Cells that clean water

In the Grundfos case, an alternative desalination idea was well received by the judges. Jasmine D. Baets, Diogo S. Martin and Jaime G. Gracia, also known as Water of Good Hope, had further developed the idea of purifying water in microbial desalination cells (MDCs). By stacking the cells, it is possible to separate the salt from the water more effectively, so that water can be used for agriculture, for example. Combined with reverse osmosis, the water can be made pure enough to drink. This method is also less expensive and takes up less space than a desalination plant. Cape Town is suffering from a shortage of water, and the law says that citizens may only use 70 litres a day. "If you’ve taken a shower this morning for 5 minutes, you’ve probably already used more water than a person from Cape Town can use in a whole day," said Water of Good Hope, who hope that their idea can provide clean drinking water for Cape Town.

Water from a wind turbine

Wind2Water, a project by Kim J. Paulsen, Janus Kramer Møller and Tiffany Williams, blew the judges away and won the Vestas case with their idea to utilise the unused space in a wind turbine tower to produce clean drinking water. By using the high air humidity at sea, they can condense water in the tower and then transport the water ashore. In addition to producing both energy and water in the same wind turbine, they will also use the excess brine to make baking powder and salt. Their solution will be of particular help to isolated island communities in need of sustainable infrastructures to produce water and electricity, etc.

The audience award blew over to Wind2Water

As if victory in the Vestas case were not enough, there was also general agreement among the audience that Wind2Water should have additional recognition for exploiting a wind turbine to produce more than just energy. The students behind Wind2Water can now share a kilogram of chocolates and 3 litres of champagne. 

Staff
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