UCAIR, Chevron, Zions Bank Award $45K to Clean Air Innovators

Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR), Chevron, and Zions Bank announced the winners of their “Bright Skies” Utah Clean Air Innovation Contest at a recent public awards ceremony.

Three winners were awarded 45,000 cash for their innovations that could help improve Utah’s air quality. 

The awards ceremony was a culmination of a contest that began three months ago. Across the state, applications were sought from innovators, entrepreneurs, businesses, and non-profit organizations which have developed innovations with the potential to immediately improve Utah’s air quality. Nearly 40 entries were submitted with eight finalists being selected from amongst them. 

On November 16, the finalists presented their ideas to the judges at a public event. Three winners were then selected and awarded a share of the $45,000 cash prize. The grand prize winner received $22,500 and $11,250 was awarded to each runner-up. The contest was organized and hosted by UCAIR, Chevron, Grow Utah and Zions Bank. The cash prize was provided by Chevron, with Zions Bank sponsoring the contest operations. Additional support was provided by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah. 

The selected winners were:

  • Grand Prize: Idle Free Heat — A device that drastically extends the time a vehicle’s heating system can provide heat inside the cab without the engine on.  This reduces the need to idle the engine in order to keep the air warm while waiting inside the vehicle. www.IdleFreeHeat.com
  • Runner-Up: ShareLift — A ridesharing app for skiers and snowboarders to carpool to and from the resorts. Automatic payment, ranking, pickup locations and other features are all built in.www.shareliftapp.com
  • Runner-Up: Nikola Motor Company — The first company in the world to engineer and develop a 100% zero emission, electric power semi-truck. www.nikolamotor.com

The other 5 finalists were: 

  • Echelon Engine — A new combustible engine with a modified crankshaft that ignites when the connecting rod is past top-dead-center.  This leads to higher efficiency requiring less fuel to get the same power, thus reducing heat and harmful emissions. http://echelonengines.com/technology/
  • Mobilight Hybrid Light Tower — A mobile lighting tower that integrates a combustion engine with the latest solar, LED, and battery technology. Compared to straight diesel generator lighting towers, it reduces emissions and fuel consumption by 83%. www.mobilight.com
  • GasPro — A filtration system that filters hydrogen sulfide and siloxane contaminants from by-product bio-methane gas at county sewage plants. When the gas is then burned, less PM2.5 particulates are spread into the air which may improve air quality by 5% along the Wasatch front.www.biogas-conditioning.com
  • Ecotrike16 — An innovative solar electric vehicle.  It uses so little power that a single roof panel provides enough power for urban travel. www.sunzeecar.com.  
  • Cold Start Emissions Eradicator — A device that captures the emissions from catalytic convertors on cold vehicles and stores the emissions until the convertor is hot enough to safely burn them.  This significantly reduces the emissions caused by cold engine starts.

“We’re really excited to win this contest,” said Joel Ewell of Idle Free Heat. “We’ve been working on this idea for a long time and we believe it will make a real difference in our air quality. We know people care about air pollution, but they idle their cars simply to stay warm, which is understandable.  This is why we created our device in the first place. It allows them to turn off their, still stay warm, reduce emissions, and save money on wasted fuel at the same time. It’s a total win-win!”

Community partner and prize sponsor, Chevron, expressed similar excitement about the winners. “The innovations we saw today were exactly what we were looking for,” said Mikal Byrd, Policy, Government, and Public Affairs Representative at Chevron’s Salt Lake Refinery. “They were innovative solutions that can make a real difference in Utah’s air quality.  Chevron is thrilled to support them in bringing their innovations to fruition.”

“Although we selected only three winners, this is a win for all of us”, said Ted Wilson of UCAIR. “It’s a win because capable people are picking up the challenge to improve air quality. It’s a win because our younger generation feels their innovations and ideas are welcome. And it’s a win because we are finding new and innovative solutions for improving air quality. That’s what this Bright Skies contest was all about- a win for us all.”

The contest organizers and sponsors plan to host additional clean air contests next year.