Prize-Winning Enertia Team Begins Long Climb To Commercialize Clean, Portable Energy

University of Michigan business student Adam Carver says he is a “mountain climber at heart.”

Maybe that’s why he’s going for two degrees at once. Last summer, he conquered the Matterhorn. Yes, the actual Matterhorn in Switzerland.

This year, he set out for the foothills of a longer, perhaps even more ambitious journey-to bring to market what he considers breakthrough technology that could completely replace today’s electrochemical batteries in portable devices.

And he is not a lone explorer. Together with colleagues Tzeno Galchev and Ethem Erkan Aktakka, both Ph.D. Fellows at U-M’s Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems, the three recently picked up the top prize of $50,000 in the 2009-2010 DTE Clean Energy Prize business plan competition.

Their project goes by the name of Enertia, and this prize could be the beginning of a long climb toward commercialization of a clean, renewable source of power. The invention is a device that can harvest energy from arbitrary vibrations in the environment, then run them through a little converter to general electric power.

Carver, who is simultaneously working toward his MBA at Michigan’s Ross School of Business and a master’s degree from U-M’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, set out specifically to look for a business project over at the engineering department. So, he went to an on-campus event that was open to entrepreneurs from the local community.

“I really wanted to get involved in cleantech. And I had this feeling that the real breakthrough technology was coming out of the school of engineering,” Carver says.

He immediately saw a great deal of possibility in Galchev’s and Aktakka’s project.

“What really attracted me to the project was the compelling technology, itself-the idea that we can utilize this ambient energy around us in the form of tiny vibrations and make renewable power,” Carver says.

“I felt that there was a very good environmental reason for this, there’s a very good economic reason, and it’s a scalable solution-that we will be able to reproduce, at high volume with quality assurance,” he says.

Carver, 28, is talking like a true entrepreneur, anyway. He even has a target year of … Next Page »

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