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Energy/Environment Prize Roundup: Automotive, Plane, Airship, Biofuels, NASA Centennial Challenges

Energy/Environment Prize Roundup: Automotive, Plane, Airship, Biofuels, NASA Centennial Challenges

By Astiles  on August 29, 2009

Note from the guest blogger: On the Space Prizes blog, every now and then I'll post on innovation prizes in fields other than space, such as health/medicine, environment, energy, computers, or transportation. This is one of those cases, although as often happens there's a healthy dose of space and aerospace in the mix, too.

Future NASA Centennial Challenges

As I mentioned in an earlier post, NASA Centennial Challenges is looking for Ideas for New NASA Prize Challenges. One of the "Criteria for Selecting New Prizes" noted on the NASA Centennial Challenges site is "Links between NASA Needs and National and Global Needs". Three of the six examples listed in this section strike me as particularly relevant to the subject of this post, energy and environment:
  • Energy - Alternative sources, transmission, storage and conservation
  • Food and Water Supplies, Life Support, Recycling, Hazard Remediation
  • Climate Change, Earth Science, Space Weather

Many of the specific "Prize Challenge Ideas" listed on the same page also seem relevant to energy and environment innovation prizes, including the following:

  • Electric aircraft - increasing range and speed
  • Improved safety and efficiency of aviation systems
  • Lunar greenhouse
  • Closed loop life support
  • Efficient clothes washing machine for space station
  • Lunar Night power source and/or power storage
  • Recycling of materials
  • Solar power systems (size, mass, performance, cost)
  • Power beaming - solar rover or airship
  • Space solar power demo
  • Power beaming to the lunar surface from space-based solar power systems
  • New applications for Earth observation data
  • Improved wind power systems (aeronautical technology, Earth or Mars application)
  • Closed loop life support systems and resource recycling
  • NASA Technologies to Meet Human Needs

All else being equal, it makes a lot of sense to me to go after innovations that help solve multiple problems at the same time, such as space technology improvements that also are improvements in energy, environment, or other important domains.

Progressive Automotive X PRIZE

Now Only 90 Official Teams Listed - X PRIZE Cars

Kinetic Vehicles MAX Withdraws from Automotive X Prize - X PRIZE Cars

Calculating MPGe - Progressive Automotive X PRIZE

An Update on Design Judging - Progressive Automotive X PRIZE


TTXGP: Isle of Man electric motorcycle race - MIT? - MIT Electric Vehicle Team Blog

The Electric Acid Test - On the Isle of Man, the beginnings of a marketable electric motorcycle. - MIT Review

One Gallon Challenge: 164 MPGe - MIT Electric Vehicle Team Blog

One Gallon Challenge: alt-fuel "race" cars get up to 164 MPGe - AutoBlogGreen (link from the MIT team blog post above)

One Gallon Challenge - Boston GreenFest 2009

Gallons in an electric car? - MIT Electric Vehicle Team Blog

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from One Gallon Challenge - MIT Electric Vehicle Team Blog

Prize Capital/Biofuels Prize

Eyes on the prize - David Strom’s Web Informant

The California Algae Fuel Prize (PDF) (draft/working copy) - Prize Capital - The concept includes a prize for the most fuel per acre (including farm and facility area) as well as a series of races with prizes. It also includes an advanced market commitment (10M gallons).

Algae Fuel Prize Workshop (PDF) - Prize Capital

The Algae Fuel Prize Draft V11 (PDF) - Prize Capital

CAFE Foundation

The The 2009 CAFE Foundation Electric Aircraft Symposium presentations includes this one on what is now called the 2011 CAFE Green Flight Challenge: The AGP: Aviation’s Green Prize—The Flight Competition for 100 MPG Aircraft: Brien Seeley M.D. President, CAFE Foundation. It includes some ideas for the challenge in later years, too.

The Green Flight Challenge has been getting a lot of media coverage.

PADA Awards at AirVenture 2009 - 2009: Burt Rutan


Unmanned German sperm dirigible ‘to fly within days’ - Airship Z Prize - No, this isn't from an Austin Powers movie.

Win a pair of tickets to ride in world’s largest airship OC (Orange County) Register (link from Airship Z Prize site):

The tickets will go to the person who best answers the following question: “If you could fly over anything you wanted to in the world in Eureka, what would it be?” ... The flight will travel over Orange County, from Long Beach.

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