This year's Breakthrough Awards, chosen by Popular Mechanics, will be honored today in a ceremony at the Hearst Tower in New York City. The list of honorees includes many innovators and products that were inspired by nature or have the potential to greatly improve the environment. Here's a look at some of them:
West Philly Hybrid X Team: Next Generation Award
The team built a hybrid electric car that gets 100 mpg on the highwayproving hands-on education can outperform teams of professional engineers.
High-Altitude Wind Turbine
Corwin Hardham, Kenny Jensen, Damon Vander Lind (Makani Power) created a turbine that takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane, enabling it to reach winds that blow stronger and more consistently.
Matt Keennon, Karl Klingebiel (AeroVironment) and Todd Hylton (DARPA) engineered a tiny, remote-controlled vehicle that flies (and looks) like an actual hummingbird, pioneering a new form of robotic flight.
Tod Sizer and team (Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs) shrank the functions of a cell tower to fit a device the size of a Rubiks Cube, eliminating the need for new towers in urban areas.
Opposed-Piston, Opposed-Cylinder Engine
Peter Hofbauer (EcoMotors) reinvented the internal combustion engine by making it 15 to 50 percent more energy-efficient, while also reducing emissions.
Osorb for Water Treatment
Paul Edmiston (College of Wooster, ABSMaterials) developed a reusable glass powder capable of cleaning toxic water, such as wastewater from natural gas fracking sites.
BoralPure Smog-Eating Tile
Boral Roofing tiles with a titanium-dioxide coating that can react with and neutralize nitrogen oxide particles in smog.
Solaria Photovoltaic Panels
Solar panels manufactured with 50 to 70 percent less silicon than traditional panels, dramatically reducing the cost to consumers.
Philips AmbientLED Bulb
A light bulb that uses just 12.5 watts of power and is rated to burn for 25,000 hours, proving to be the first credible replacement for the 60-watt incandescent.
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