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Northwestern Student Team Wins $100,000 in Clean Energy Challenge

McCormick graduate student Christ Wilmer speaks Thursday after his team won the Clean Energy Challenge.NuMat Technologies, a materials-based start-up comprised of three Northwestern graduate students and a research professor, has won in the student team division of the Clean Energy Challenge 2012, an annual business competition that awards cash prizes to top Midwest clean-technology entrepreneurs.

The team received a $100,000 prize and will go on to compete in a national competition in June.

NuMat Technologies developed a proprietary computational screening tool for rapidly identifying and testing metal-organic frameworks. The process was developed in the lab of Randall Q. Snurr, McCormick professor of chemical and biological engineering.

“A major energy challenge today is figuring out a way to store fuels that are clean and eco-friendly,” said Chris Wilmer, a graduate student in chemical and biological engineering. “We’ve developed a plan to identify the right material to store clean fuel, synthesize them, test them, and produce them on a large scale for industry.”

NuMat Technologies’ members include Tabrez Ebrahim, Omar Farha, Ben Hernandez, and Chris Wilmer. (Watch a video about NuMat Technologies’ screening tool.)

Earlier this week, NuMat Technologies won $10,000 in the Clean Energy Challenge for having the best pitch from Illinois.

SiNode, a Northwestern student team comprised of students from the NUVention: Energy course, made it to the final round of the competition. SiNode commercialized an anode for lithium-ion batteries that allows the battery to charge more quickly and hold a charge 10 times longer than current technology. The anode was developed in the laboratory of Harold Kung, professor of chemical and biological engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering.

SiNode members include Peter Hamann, Zhenyu Hou, Joshua Lau, Nishit Mehta, Samir Mayekar, Guy Peterson, and Thomas Yue Yang Yu.